Tour Val de Bagnes with Thomas Heaton
Vero and I are just back from a fast paced and fun recognisance trip with Thomas Heaton, a really talented photographer from the UK and something of a YouTube phenomenon. We hiked a part of Tour Val de Bagnes over three days and had a great time – just as hiking trips are supposed to be – easy steps, spontaneous chatting and many laughs.
Tom came down from the UK to “test hike” the Tour Val de Bagnes from a photography perspective, as we are planning a group tour together to merge together hiking and landscape photography - two activities that goes beautifully well together.
First thing we noticed as we picked him up at the train station was that Tom is just as insanely passionate about landscape photography and being outdoors as he appears in his YouTube videos. The perfect match with us. From the days we travelled together I can tell that this is not just his work – this is his passion.
I must admit, I was a bit worried about the weather forecast… Rain, rain and rain…oh and then some more rain. Well, that’s nature and there was nothing we can do about it except pack rain clothes and lots of chocolate. We started in good spirit and surprisingly good weather at the Mavousin Dam and headed towards Cabane Pannossaire. It was a long day with 14 kilometres, a vertical gain of 1,400 meters and 500 meters descent. At the highest point (around 2,900 meteres) we were all feeling the altitude, it started raining, the low clouds appeared from nowhere and our energy levels started dropping – thankfully we were all expecting this and could keep enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Otane pass (Col des Otanes). Heading down the other side of the high pass, we were rewarded by the impressive views of fog and then some more fog and finally the impressive Glacier de Corbassiere and, when reaching the Cabane Pannossaire a well-deserved beer. Looking back at the challenging day we couldn’t but agree that you just can’t get tired of the vistas in the Swiss Alps, wherever you look is unique and beautiful.
The impressive Glacier de Corbassiere was one of the many highlights of the tour, with its monochrome shades of white, grey and black. Thomas got some pictures at sunset, whilst fighting bravely with the pouring rain. After a challenging day, we were all early to bed, with alarms set for 5.15AM to catch the sunrise.
Sunrise the second day looked disappointing, but Tom got a window to the Grand Combin that lasted a few minutes (see his video for this moment!) The second day then took us towards the Corbassière suspension bridge, which at 210 meters across the glacier moraine is both terrifying and makes you want to jump to make it swing (do not do this!) and then around Becca de Sery to Cabane Brunet where we enjoyed lunch.
After lunch we headed to Les Golassons, which offers such beautiful meadows, streams and lakes perfect for photography, but at this moment it was absolutely pouring down so we headed up the ridges towards Col de Mille and Cabane Mille, which (initially) really disappointed Tom with low hanging clouds and rain. However, the third morning offered blue skies and 360 degree panoramas around the hut and the ridge line, including the Mont Blanc Massif. The sunset photography turnout to be stunning and the sunshine lightened our moods for the final day’s hike alone the beatutifull ridges and over the top of Mont Brûle (2,572 meters).
We headed down towards La Côt, picked up the car and drove down for lunch in Le Châble and then it was time for Tom to head back to the UK – he will be back soon!