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Mont Tondu: Tré la Tête - Lacs Jovets glacier traverse

Day 1: Climb to Tré la Tête refuge (1970m, 750m HD) or to Conscrits refuge (2605m, 1400m HD). The two days are more equal by climbing to Conscrits refuge. From Cugnon follow the summer trail of Tré la Tête hotel (via Les Plans). Altitude 1970m. 2h00. It is also possible to leave from Notre Dame de la Gorge (see note below). Continue on the SE side which dominates Glacier de Tré la Tête arm and climb up 70m of HD. Go towards the flat area and then go down to reach the base of the final arm of Glacier de Tré la Tête. This place is known as Mauvais Pas. It is often necessary to take off your skis.  Then go back up the centre of the glacier then its right bank. At the level of the ramp marking the ascent trail to the summer refuge, go towards the rocks to avoid a zone of crevasses (seracs of Tré la Grande). You arrive on a flat area that you go up for a distance of 200 or 300m. Here you can see the roof of the refuge on the right bank of the glacier perched 200m above the glacier. You reach it by two scoops. The one located before the spur on which the refuge sits, or the one located after the spur (less steep than the first). It takes 2h30 from Tré la Tête. Altitude 2605m.

Warning: on the old maps, the refuge indicated is the old Conscrits refuge (at 2730m, 750m further to the east than the new one). The old refuge was demolished.

Day 2: From Conscrits refuge, go back up the Glacier via the scoop taken the day before, or pulling to the left towards the SE if the snow cover allows it. Traverse the entire width of the glacier (almost 500m to the altitude of 2450) in the direction of the foot of the slope leading to Col des Glaciers (on the right of the Bosse). Climb to the right under this bump. By an ascending traverse on the right (SW) you reach Mont Tondu glacier. Go back up it (passing over the small croup in its centre, to avoid the sluffs coming from Pointe des Lanchettes) until the small pass between Pyramide Chaplan and Pain de Sucre. Go up the ice cap leading to Pain de Sucre on foot. Continue as far as the first summit (3169) requiring a few meters of easy climbing. The real summit (3196), 250m further to the S, is seldom climbed (difficult mixed climbing).

Descent: Go back down the ridge NW of Pain de Sucre until the pass before Pyramide Chaplan. Pass to the western face. First descend on the right then straight on the slope for 150m (S4) then diagonally on the left to avoid the steeper slopes which descend directly to the lakes (this section is possible with good snow cover, but more difficult). By traversing well to the left under the western face of Mont Tondu, until passing the spur 2506, you avoid all the rock barriers. Then descend to the Lacs Jovets by less steep slopes. Skirt the left bank of the lakes (SW) and descend to Plan Jovet (W) to reach the very popular Col du Bonhomme route. You reach an electric pylon by going slightly back up to the north, descend to the Balme chalets, then reach Notre Dame de la Gorge via the broad Roman trail. You reach the Le Cognon via the road or pedestrian path. NB : To avoid the latter section it is possible to climb to Tré la Tête refuge from Notre Dame de la Gorge: Take the Roman trail until Nant Borrant. Leave it on the left, at the beginning of this hamlet, passing Pont de la Laya, Laya chalets, the bridge at the foot of Cascade de Combe Noire and climb the steep trail to the refuge. This route is also less exposed to the avalanches than the route of Cugnon.

Overall timespan for the second day: 6 hours

  • Difficulty: S4 - Difficult (<45°)
  • Danger/Exposure: E2 - Medium/High
  • Total climb: 1969 m
  • Total elevation drop: 1969 m
  • Highest altitude: 3196 m
  • Lowest altitude: 1200 m
  • Extra gear: None
  • Lift access: No



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