Hiking The Grand Balcon Sud Towards Index

Grand Balcon Sud, French Alps

Hiking along the Grand Balcon Sud in the Chamonix valley was the highlight of my summer exploring the French Alps on foot. The 90 minute trek from the Index cablecar to Lac Blanc and the Lacs des Chéserys was full of incredible views no matter where I turned.

But the hike along the same path in the opposite direction was even better, with Mont Blanc in view almost the entire time. I took this shot just after I started hiking back to the cablecar station to head home. I really can’t recommend this route enough!

On the right you can see one of the Lacs des Chéserys, a beautiful collection of small mountain lakes at an altitude of 2111m. To the left in the distance is Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe at 4810m. From here I spent a bit more time shooting at the lake, before continuing my journey back up the rocky face behind it.

20 thoughts on “Hiking The Grand Balcon Sud Towards Index

  1. Helen C

    Lovely!!! (I am jealous, can you tell?)
    Question: I find all of your photos are extremely sharp (I like them very much!). I know using tripod is one. Is it ok for me to ask for the rest of the info like what camera, lens, F-stop, ISO… all the details? I am so curious… 😉 Helen

    Reply
    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks Helen! Haha, I’m certainly very lucky to be so close to these mountains. If you click through on the photo it will take you to Flickr and all the shot details are there 🙂 When I’m out hiking I’m normally in aperture priority mode, leaving the ISO on auto. Most of my landscape shots will be around F11, although I may go lower in dark light to help bring the shutter speed up a bit. Currently I’m shooting with the Sony NEX 6, 10-18mm lens, but most of the sharpness will come from the post processing I do on the RAW file in Lightroom. The Clarity and Sharpening tools are pretty handy. Hope that helps!

      Reply
      1. Helen C

        It’s very helpful, Ben. Thank you so much! Sorry it took me so long to find my way back here. I have looked for it, but I couldn’t remember which post I asked the question since all of your photos are excellent. Thank you! Helen

        Reply
    1. Ben Post author

      I can’t say I’ve been tempted to climb Mont Blanc just yet, that would require a whole new skillset! Still, it’s nice to dream big 🙂

      Reply
    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks Amy! I just spotted the view as I came over the ridge. I had to wait a while for the trail to clear a bit. There were a lot of people on this hike!

      Reply
    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks Mel! I didn’t have any problems on this trip, around 2500m seemed to be ok. I’ve never hiked higher than that though! Have been to 3800m and had some light altitude sickness there, but no hiking involved 🙂 It’s important to take it slowly and and drink plenty of water. If you try and walk around at normal pace you’ll feel it pretty quickly!

      Reply
      1. ifollowislands

        Thanks that’s good info Ben and glad you managed the hike without altitude sickness 🙂 Only hiked once in the Alps so far, that was when I was still living in Germany and didn’t have to go so far to get there. Now living in Ireland everything requires a flight and usually I spend all my annual leave somewhere scorching hot with a cocktail in my hand to escape the Irish weather! 😉 But I will hopefully make another trip to Switzerland or Austria soon.

        Reply
        1. Ben Post author

          Haha, I don’t blame you! It’s nice to go somewhere completely different to really get away from it all. But you should definitely make the trip to Switzerland, we actually have quite nice summers here too. Perhaps not the place to be drinking cocktails though given the expense of everything!

        2. ifollowislands

          Yep, alcohol is quite pricey in Switzerland but hey, it’s actually not that much cheaper here in Ireland. I’ve been to Switzerland in the summer once, it was beautiful! I think I was too young to enjoy hiking though. Fast forward 15 years and I’m a huge fan now so I’ll have to return 🙂

        3. Ben Post author

          Summer is definitely the time to visit! And I’m completely with you on hiking, not something that ever appealed to me in the past. But over the last few years living in Switzerland I have really started to enjoy it. For me it’s the best thing about being here, and I can’t imagine being without it now.

    1. Ben Post author

      That’s great you’re living here, what a fantastic opportunity! Let me know if you have any questions about anything, more than happy to help people discover the area 🙂

      Reply

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