Now that I am surrounded by mountains again, it is time to pay them a visit. This week-end, I went to Grand Veymont with my dad. This summit is the highest mountain in the Vercors range, which lies to the west of Grenoble.
I have made a map showing the path we took.
The walk started in Gresse-en-Vercors, down the slopes of the ski resort. The village resided down high cliffs created by erosion. It was intimidating, especially since I knew we had to go up these very cliffs. In the beginning, we were sheltered from the sun by the forest, but we were assailed by hords of flying insects. This, and the quite warm atmosphere, made it an unpleasant walk. Oh, and it was steep. Very steep.
We left the flies behind us when we reached the line between forest and pastures. The path zigzaged on the mountainside, between some scattered fir trees. Soon, as we approached the pass named Pas de la ville, it turned abrupt again, but it was nothing compared to what awaited us after the pass. We turned left and followed a rocky path wandering not far from the ridge. It was steep, and I often needed to grasp rocks with my hands to secure my ascent. The wind turned nasty, especially in some kind of natural corridor that preceded a flat area from which I got nice shots of other mountain ranges, including Ecrins, Belledone and Chartreuse in the distance.
The last ascent was much easier, as we were on the side of a slope. Our efforts were rewarded by a band of Alpine ibexes (Capra ibex), youngs and females altogether, grazing in the fields a few meters from the path. They were obviously used to human presence, as two of them crossed the path right behind us. It was not too hard to take pictures!
At some point, I saw a bird of prey high in the sky, gliding in the warm air above the cliffs. Another one then many others followed it, flying north in quest of a carrion. These were obviously Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus). It had been a long time I had not spotted this species, probably one year, so that was an appreciated sight. No Golden eagle (Aquile chrysaetos) this time, unfortunately.
The summit of Grand Veymont was chilly, because of the wind, but we ate our pic-nic nonetheless, enchanted by the vista and by the aerial ballet of Alpine choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus) and Alpine swifts (Tachymarptis melba). The former were playing in the wind, folding up their wings to go against it and unfolding them when it was blowing from behind. They were no wilder than the ibexes, and clearly expected some food from the hikers. They got none from us, food is too precious!
We did not linger too much in the descent. It was steep and rocky, therefore very hard on knees and ankles. We crossed path with another ibex at the pass, where it was grazing next to the path, standing on it. It barely moved when walkers passed by; had I extended my hand, I could have touched it.
Click here to see the full photo album.
The Mont Aiguille is a mesa separated from Vercors situated in the area. It is quite unusual to see the meadows topping it, but from the summit of Grand Veymont, we were above.