WALKING THE PATHS OF ONE OF MOST FAMOUS PEAKS IN THE ALPS – GRAND COMBIN, YOU’LL GO THROUGH QUIET AND UNSPOILT NATURE, YOU’LL EXPERIENCE THE SERENITY OF HIGH MEADOWS WHERE EDELWEISS GROWS, AND WALK BESIDE THE IMMENSE GLACIER DE CORBASSIERE, ONE OF THE LARGEST GLACIERS IN EUROPE.
Name: Grand Combin
Height: 4,314 metres (14,154 ft)
Location: The western Pennine Alps, Switzerland, near the Italian border
First Climbed: August 14, 1851 by Gottlieb Samuel Studer with the guide Joseph – Benjamin Fellay
Climb Time: 7+hrs.
Best Season to Climb: March – September
The Grand Combin is a huge glaciated mountain massif in the western Pennine Alps in Switzerland. Its highest summit, Combin de Grafeneire, is one of the highest peaks in the Alps and the second most prominent of its range. The massif consists of several summits, three of them being above 4,000m (13,000ft): Combin de Grafeneire 4,314m (14,154ft), Combin de Valsorey 4184m (13,727), Combin de la Tsessette 4141m (13,585ft).
Above the glacier there is Great St Bernard’s pass and the monastery, famous for the huge dogs with a barrel of brandy on their collars, going out into the mountain in severe weather conditions to help mountaineers in trouble.
The massif of Grand Combin is south of the village Verbier in south-western Switzerland between Val d’Entremont and Val de Bagnes. Its north-western side is always covered in snow and glaciers, but the southern and eastern slopes are steeper and don’t have any snow. Between these two valleys, there are two almost parallel ridges diverging from a third one which is short but high. Surrounded by these three ridges, there is a huge elevated plateau where snow accumulates and forms the Corbassiere Glacier which extends about 10km further to the north. The glacier is surrounded by Petit Combin, Combin de Boviere and Combin de Corbassiere from the west, and Grand Tave and Tournelon Blancon from the east. The farthest point in the south-east is surmounted by the two highest summits: Grand Combin de Grafeneire (4.314m/14,154ft), and only less than 60m lower Aiguille du Croissant (4,260m/ 13,976ft). The other two lower peaks: the Grand Combin de Valsorey (4,184m/13,727ft) and the Combin de la Tsessette (4,135m/ 13,566ft) are located on the ridge. The plateau gets considerably lower on the western side where the Col des Maisons Blanches (3,418/ 11,213ft) is.
CLIMBING guide for grand combin
Grand Combin offers an exceptional flora and fauna and a wild atmosphere ideal for nature lovers. It has attracted climbers ever since the firs ascent in 1851. But this massif can be very demanding, even for the most experienced climbers, with its rocky peaks, sharp crests and countless crevasses.
Climbing Grand Combin requires fitness and endurance, as well as mountaineering equipment for winter conditions. The paths are well worn and usually visible even in bad weather conditions. Despite the size of the mountain there are only few routes for mountaineers, and the most popular ones are:
The West Ridge of Combin de Valsorey route is the most popular route from Valsorey hut.
The route leads to Meitin crest over north-west face from Panossière or over south face from Valsorey. The route follows the west ridge to the summit. To avoid ice, it is often best to climb in spring and summer.
The North-west Face of Combin de Grafeneire route leads over the Plateau des Maisons Blanches, a steep slope of snow and ice and finally all the way up to the summit.
The North-West Face route follows a broad icy face that leads directly to the Combin de Valsorey summit. It is better to climb in spring and early summer to avoid hard ice. Usually in spring you can approach it on skis or in early summer it can be approached on foot. The route is simple but relatively long.
hiking around Grand combin
The area is rich with wildlife and offers impressive views of snowy peaks, white glaciers and green lowlands. The surrounding valleys and higher ridges have ideal hiking conditions and are an excellent alternative to the much busier trails around Mont Blanc. The path crosses the historic Great St Bernard Pass with a centuries old travellers hospice. The only equipment you need are telescopic sticks, trekking boots, warm clothes and, of course, food.
The Tour of the Combins is a hiking tour that starts at Bourg Saint-Pierre. It is also possible to start from every stop of the tour:
- Bourg Saint-Pierre - Col de Mille
- Col de Mille - Pannosière
- Panossière - Chanrion
- Chanrion - Col Fenêtre - By-Ollomont
- By-Ollomont - Etroubles - Saint Oyen - Saint Rhémy
- Etroubles (or Saint Oyen, or Saint Rhémy) - Great St Bernard Pass - Bourg Saint Pierre