Chalets de Sales, Col de la Portette, and Dérochoir
Located in the heart of the Fiz Massif between the Désert de Platé to the west and the Rocher des Fiz dominating Lac d’Anterne to the east, Chalets de Sales, set in the plain of the Grand Pré, constitute a little haven of tranquility that will delight the hiker.
Though somewhat steep in the first part of the route, the steep trail of the GR 96, alternating between rivers and waterfalls, offers a continuous flabbergasting landscape.
The itinerary described here proposes a loop that first reaches Chalets de Sales, then the Col de la Portette at the southern end of the Désert de Platé before returning to the Passage du Dérochoir to begin the long descent towards the Lignon. There is no notorious difficulty to face, if not just the length of the trail (18 km) that can intimidate beginners.
- Difficulty: Hard
- Altitude: 1,877 m at the Chalets de Sales ; 2,354 m at the Col de la Portette ; 2,220 m at the Dérochoir
- Route: 2 hours 00 min to get to the chalets (5 hours 30 min in total)
- Elevation Gain: 700 meters to get to the chalets ; 1,330 m in total
- Round-trip: 17.6 km in total
- Map: IGN 3530 ET
- Restrictions : Dogs (even on a leash) and gathering prohibited. Bivouac allowed between 7 pm and 9 am.
From Samoëns, reach Six-Fer-à-Cheval and turn right on a small bridge in the direction of the Lignon and Cascade du Rouget. Park at the end of the road near the chalet restaurant.
GPS Coordinates (WGS 84) of the Starting Point: 46.021014, 6.768419
From the parking lot of the Lignon, take the pathway that gets into the forest. Further, this trail gives the right to observe the Cascade de la Pleureuse and the Cascade de la Sauffraz. Leave on the left the road in the direction of the Lac d’Anterne and continue towards Chalets de Sales on the GR 96. After a few very steep switchbacks, one gets to the Torrent de Sales on an entirely flat trail. Follow either on the bridge on the right or on the left path to arrive at the Gorges de Sales as well as the Cascade de Sales. Short bends reach Casacade du Trainant further upstream before coming to the Refuge and the Chalets de Sales located a few minutes away.
Continue to get to the heart of the prairie of Grand Pré and, at the sign, turn right towards the Col de la Portette. The progression takes place in wide rocky blocks as well as on the lawn quickly reaching the Désert de Platé and the small lakes of the Laouchets on the right. After a brief effort, the Col de la Portette is won.
From here, go down towards the Passage du Dérochoir indicated on the right by the sign at the foot of the pass. The trail gets through several screes under Pointe de Platé and the Dérochoir and arrives at the eponymous passage where a beautiful panorama on the Mont Blanc Massif is exhibited to the hiker.
Take the road again and go straight on towards the Grand Pré to return to the parking lot.
Photos of the Chalets de Sales, the Col de la Portette, and the Dérochoir
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