A Trient Glacier Trip to Remember

Trient Glacier

On Day 9 of the Tour du Mont Blanc, the trail winds past the jaw-dropping Trient Glacier. It’s no surprise that the Swiss glacier offers magnificent views, but what about the flora and fauna in this area? Are there any interesting animals or flowers to be found? Yesterday, I decided to answer those questions and explore what this area has in store. So, I packed my bivouac bag to spend the night next to the impressive Trient Glacier. I’ve just got down from the mountains and I am so excited about all that I’ve seen, that I can’t help but write about it immediately!     

Colourful flowers

At that start of the hike on the Col de la Forclaz (1527 m), I immediately admire the flora right next to the trail. Although it’s still quite early in the season (mid -June) a wide range of flowers are in full bloom. At lower elevation it’s the iconic yellow globe flowers that stand out the most, but a bit higher on the mountain it’s the violet-blue flowers of primroses that are stealing the show. To top it all up, butterflies are frolicking around in the sunshine. It’s simply stunning!

Primrose flower
Primrose flower. Photo by Simone van Velzen.

Grazing together 

I soon totally forget about the beautiful wild flowers though. At an altitude of about 2100 meters the views of the Trient Glacier ask for my full attention. It’s just so breathtakingly pretty, that I decide to stop hiking. Instead I roll out my bivy bag and lay down to soak up the views. It turns out that even the glacier doesn’t hold my attention for too long. While the sun slowly sets behind the mountains, a true wildlife spectacle starts. It begins with the arrival of a single alpine ibex; he calmly starts grazing in the meadow right above me. Soon, two other ibexes join him, and shortly after two chamois add some variety to the group. When a massive alpine marmot emerges from its underground burrow, it turns into a situation I’ve never seen before: Ibex, chamois and marmot all grazing together, side by side in the same meadow. A wonderful image to fall asleep with!

Ibexes and chamois grazing
Ibexes and chamois grazing not far away! Photo by Simone van Velzen.
Bivy spot
Bivy spot. (A bivy is a small, weatherproof shelter for a sleeping bag.) Photo by Simone van Velzen.

Birds singing

Rain drops on my face wake me up in the morning. I quickly pack my stuff together and head back down to the Col de la Forclaz. Although I follow the exact same steep path down as I came up yesterday, it is a totally different experience. The colourful flowers from yesterday are closed, due to the rain, but the birds are singing. They’re noisy today, despite the bad weather. It’s not hard to recognize the different songs of chiffchaffs, European finches and chickadees. As I’m descending, I’m letting it all sink in, the bird sounds, the colourful flowers, the magnificent views, and of course the ibexes, chamois and marmot; three of the most iconic mammals of the Alps, all together in one spot! I just can’t believe how much flora and fauna I’ve discovered during this little trip. There is no doubt: the Trient Glacier definitely qualifies as an absolute nature highlight of the Tour du Mont Blanc!

Trient Glacier close up
Trient Glacier close-up. Photo by Simone van Velzen.

Links to other nature highlights on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve – May 5, 2019

Lac de Goillet – April 28, 2019

Lacs des Chéserys – April 21, 2019

Links to learn more about alpine ibex, chamois and alpine marmots

Ibex or Chamois – January 14, 2019

Simone van Velzen

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