Ascent of Puy de Sancy on 1985-06-28

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, June 28, 1985
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Tram
Peak:Puy de Sancy
    Elevation:6184 ft / 1884 m

Ascent Trip Report

I woke up at 8 AM after a solid 14.5 hour sleep. I got dressed and went up to the hostel’s common room for breakfast. There were about 8 other guests, and I talked to another American while munching on crumbly rolls during my first continental breakfast (I was expecting more to eat). Leaving behind my umbrella and other things in my room (I planned to return), I shouldered my pack and left the hostel.

I walked the short distance to the cable car (telepherique) base station, and bought a 25-Franc ticket to the top. After a wait, I, along with restaurant workers, took the first trip of the morning to near the top of the Puy de Sancy. I climbed up to the summit again—a short 10 minutes from the cable-car terminal—and it was totally deserted. I was struck by the irony of having central France’s apex to myself after a cable car ride and yesterday I had hiked all day to find it crowded. After view admiration—I was disappointed that distant clouds obscured Mont Blanc, which the summit plaque said should be visible—I descended to the northwest through the area of ski lifts and equipment, ugly without snow to cover the scarred ground.

The trail led around a loaf-shaped peak and then climbed up to the Puy de Cacadogne, then up almost to the summit of the Puy de Crebasses. The ridge again covered by short grass, so it was easy to detour from the trail and climber to the Puy des Crebasses real summit and return. The trail next descended to a deep col and then climbed up steeply for a while to the Roc de Cuzeau (1737 m), which has steep cliffs dropping off to the west to the valley floor. I rested here and the edge of a crag and ate some of my food. I then started a long descent down to the Col de la Croix St. Robert, which had a road through it.

I “bushwhacked” down, since I had trouble finding the trail. Although all gentle downhill through a huge field, it took me a while as the footing among the tussocks and scrub was difficult. I reached the road, and started up the trail to the Puy de l’Angle. It passed a rusting Volkswagen as it steeply climbed to a minor col past lots of droppings. After the grueling climb to the col, an enormous herd of sheep became visible above me, just below Puy de l’Angle’s summit on either side of the trail.

The climb was awfully steep, I resting frequently. As I approached the sheep, I left the trail to try to get around them, but then tried to force my way through a less dense area. I, exhausted, made it to the top, where a shepherd with his dogs had just finished talking to two hikers. I apologized for cutting through his herd, and a little further on talked to the two hikers, asking the husband the name of the animals below in French—“mutton”, or course.

My hike then led along a largely level grassy ridge north from the Puy de l’Angle over the Puy de Barbier, Puy de Monne, and finally Puy de la Tache. Here the trail plunged downhill, paralleling a ski lift, very, very steeply. The tussocks were like steps on a staircase. At the bottom, the Col de la Croix Morand, there was a road and a picnicking family. I started walking east on the road for a short ways to where the trail picked up again. I decided, however, to abandon my hiking and take a train into Paris this afternoon instead of tomorrow, since I had already hiked most of the Monts Dore range, and the train tomorrow got me to Paris sort of late for the Bruce Springsteen concert.

Therefore, I hiked on the roadside of Route D966 southeastwards toward the town of Le Mont Dore. It was hot, weary going. Since I had to go to the youth hostel to pay and retrieve my stuff, I decided to attempt a shortcut. I took a short path from the highway which led shortly to the Cascade St. Laurent , in a densely vegetated glen. I climbed up through the dense plants on the muddy ground to one side of the waterfall, finally pulling myself up to a fenced field at the forest’s edge. Carefully climbing over the barbed wire, I then followed another fence quickly across the field to another road, my objective. At this road was a regular wire fence, but when I tried to climb over it I was given a shock—it was an electrified fence. With care I was able to maneuver myself over it, and started hiking along this road into the town.

I hiked quickly in the hot afternoon. The road slabbed into town, then I continued south for 3 miles to the youth hostel, utterly tired and sweaty but worried that I might miss my train. I retrieved my things in the deserted hostel, checked out, and started hiking back north, with 30 minutes until my train and 3 miles back to Le Mont Dore. Therefore, I started hitchhiking, but without much success. The cars came in clumps, probably because of the cable care arrivals.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:361 ft / 110 m
    Total Elevation Loss:574 ft / 174 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:361 ft / 110 m
    Start Trailhead:Telepherique Summit Station  5823 ft / 1774 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:574 ft / 174 m
    Route:GR 4
    End Trailhead:5610 ft / 1709 m
Ascent Part of Trip: 1985 - Puy de Sancy II

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Puy de Sancy1985-06-28 b361 ft / 110 m
2Puy de Cacadogne1985-06-28 c246 ft / 75 m
3Puy des Crebasses1985-06-28 d122 ft / 37 m
4Roc de Cuzeau1985-06-28 e292 ft / 89 m
5Puy de l'Angle1985-06-28 f984 ft / 300 m
6Puy de Barbier1985-06-28 g89 ft / 27 m
7Puy de Monne1985-06-28 h154 ft / 47 m
8Puy de la Tache1985-06-28 i439 ft / 134 m
Total Trip Gain: 2687 ft / 819 m    Total Trip Loss: 5000 ft / 1524 m

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