Glacier de la Martin
This hike on the vertiginous east face of Mont-Pourri, will lead you from the world of men, with the hamlet of Gurraz and Chevril dam up to the ""eternal"" kingdom of the glaciers, where only the ibex ventures."
From Chantel car park, follow the path which gœs to the left. Follow it for about 280 m, then continue on the trail leading off it to the first hairpin bend. Cross the Mont-Pourri stream with EDF water intake. The trail enters the shrub vegetation and meanders. Once out of the forest, you arrive at Crêt (chalet). Follow the path into the mountain pastures. Cross the Savinaz stream over the wide footbridge. Continue until Refuge de la Martin. From the refuge, head in the direction of “Glacier de la Savinaz 0h20” The trail ends in the midst of moutonnées and moraines rocks. To return, follow the path in the opposite way.
- Departure : Chantel car park, Hamlet of Gurraz, Villaroger
- Arrival : Chantel car park, Hamlet of Gurraz, Villaroger
- Towns crossed : VILLAROGER
At the end of the trail, it is not recommended to venture further without being accompanied by a mountain professional (guide). In the summer, ice blocks can come loose from the glaciers without warning. Ÿou can take your dog with you, but only up to the Refuge de la Martin. Beyond the refuge, you enter the heart of the National Park. Please ensure you respect the park’s special regulations.
Access and parking
10 points of interest
Balcony overlooking Mont BlancTo the north, beyond the summits bordering the right bank of the valley of Col du Petit St Bernard, rises an imposing glacial massif. At a height of 4,810metres, Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, looms over the steep Italian slope. Glaciers and rock walls block the horizon in an awe-inspiring, wild landscape which proves difficult to access. It is the domain of the exceedingly high mountain.
The spotted nutcracker, guest of the conifer forests.Amid two trees, an enormous figure passes by discreetly, with a sharp beak, mottled brown plumage and white-striped tail. Then, from the top of a spruce, the spotted nutcracker launches its discordant, raspy cry. This sedentary corvid lives in the coniferous forests where it feeds mainly on coniferous seeds. In the autumn it will bury its provisions although will sometimes forget them.
Barbs and woodpeckers"The spruce flourishes on the ubac slope, dominating the hardwoods of the mountain zone. Often wrongly called ""fir"", it is easily identified by its cones which hang under the branches, with needles laid out around the twigs, prickly to the touch, while the tree is supple and soft under the hand. The trunk of the spruce is sometimes bored into by woodpeckers, in search of larvae or to house their brood."
The hamlet of GurrazUnder the protection of Saint-Roch and its church, the hamlet of La Gurraz nestles behind an old moraine, sheltered from the dreadful avalanches that sometimes hurtle down the north slope of the Mont-Pourri massif, causing windows and chimneys to rattle. In 1990, the village was cut off from the world for four days. Narrow alleys, stone houses with wooden balconies opening on to the hay barns, bread oven… infuse this alpine mountain village with authenticity and character.
The alder groveIt is a forest-vegetation dominated by the green alder, also called “arcosse” in patois. Its highly flexible branches bend under the weight of the snow without breaking and allow it to establish in the avalanche slopes. The alder is often accompanied by plant formation that grows in fresh environments such as eutrophic tall herbs, recognised by their tall plants (Alpine sow-thistle, Adenostyles alliariae). Difficult to access by man, the alder grove is an area of tranquillity for many animals (deer, dunnock…).
The panorama over the Nantcruet valleyFrom the cross looking eastwards, you can see the very steep-sided stream of the Nant Cruet, with the Aiguille de la Grande Sassière at the bottom of the valley, culminating at 3,747 m. The left bank of the torrent on the cold and humid ubac slope (north-facing side), is little exploited by man, which has allowed the forest to establish. By contrast, the right bank, located on the adret slope, testifies to the strong agricultural activity characterised by numerous hamlets, hay meadows and mountain pastures.
The orange lilyWhile hiking on this part of the trail from June to July, scour the cliffs upstream and your eye will be drawn to the flamboyant colour of the orange lily. Ÿou will easily recognise it with its long angular stem more than 25 cm high, adorned with one or more bright orange flowers at the top. Present up to 2,200 m in altitude, it is particularly fond of these rocky terraces on limestone soil well exposed to the sun.
- Small heritage
The Passerelle des BalmettesComposed of 4 wooden structures of approximately 600 to 700 kg, this footbridge is dismantled every autumn by helicopter and assembled at the end of spring. It provides hikers with access to the heart of the Vanoise National Park by allowing them to safely cross the Savinaz stream which is impassable in times of high flows. The footbridge was also designed to allow access to the farmer’s pastures and his herd of heifers.
The alpine pastures of Savinaz"Agriculture has been declining for several decades in the municipality of Villaroger because the sloping terrains are not favourable to mechanisation. The alpine meadows of Trousse (called the ""mauvais prés"") and their upper part, which are dependent on the mountain pasture of Martin, illustrate this reality. Where once hay was formerly used, agriculture is still maintained today with herds of goats and heifers which make it possible to prevent these alpine pastures from being filled with green alder."
The Chevril damFrom the cross looking south-east, you can see the Chevril hydrœlectric dam, established on the Isère river below the ski resort of Tignes, which is the only access road. At the time of its construction in 1952, it was the highest arch dam in Europe at 181 metres high. Its impounding caused the engulfment of the old village of Tignes, populated back then by 387 inhabitants. The expropriated families were relocated to the new village of Boisses (village located at the foot of the dam).