Peck's personal Web site
big bump on the Jura ridgeline
Mont Sâla sits smugly on top of the
Swiss Jura ridgeline between Marchairuz and Givrine, barely 1500m
above sea level but nonetheless, at least in bad weather, with a
There's a decorative
cross on the summit, visible in the TIFF version of this
photo but lost in the JPG alas.
This is seen from the Swiss side, near Le
Bassine at 1250m, at the top of the road up from the village of
Bassins. The normal hiking trail wanders up through a break in
the cliffs off to the right into the Combe de Begnines, past the
farm of Le Couchant, and up the back side of the ridge. It's also
possible, with suitable care, to go up the front.
Late in the day on a blustery 21 January
2007, that looks like snow but it's not really, just a frosty
sort of excrescence all around the decorative
cross -- it's been springtime here in Switzerland so far,
that's all down to Mr Bush's Global Warming, but we've still maintained
our profound faith in January snow on the heights, and a week
later we were vindicated at least in some small measure.
Mont Sala (not so much a "Mont"
as a high point on the ridge) towers proudly at 1512m and frowns
down upon Lake Geneva when the sky lowers like this.
That's the view southwestward from Mont Sâla,
over the bare unnamed knob at 1515m to Mont Pelé with trees
That's the unnamed 1515m knob in the middle
there -- down to the right is the nasty Cimetière aux Bourguignons,
the "Cemetery of the Burgundians", where Charles the
Bold's mercenaries, fleeing their catastrophic invasion attempt
on Switzerland in 1476, got stuck in the limestone cliffs and
holes and perished miserably. Just as we frequently almost do
when we wander off the trail. Mont Pelé squats up there
just a bit higher (1532m) with only a little break in the trees.
The area between them is as treacherous a porous limestone mess
as you'll find anywhere.
From Mont Sâla looking northeast up
the Combe des Begnines, one of the almost-undiscovered wonders
of the world, a hidden valley at about 1450m accessible only at
three or four points. That's the farm of Le
Couchant down on the left.
Looking SE towards Lake Geneva, that's the
farm of Les Pralets, 1271m. Les Pralets lies about halfway along
the cross-country ski-du-fond trail from Marchairuz to Givrine,
and hearty souls often pause along the 18km track to sample the
bonne fondue or big ham sandwich before continuing on their way,
or going back. Not yet, though -- no snow so far this year.
Gazing farther out from Mont Sâla,
we're looking past Les Pralets at the Mondion farm (1270m) and
Lake Geneva (Lac Léman, 380m) in the background.
Mere moments later, 21 January 2007, we've
popped up on the 1515m unnamed knob and we're viewing Mont Sâla
right through the tree, and wondering how we're going to get down
out of here before dark.
Mont Sâla from the 1515m knob just to
the southwest. 21 January 2007.
Mont Sâla from the 1515m knob just to
the southwest. 1 January 2007 on a grey day.
Mont Sâla autrefois
That's the decorative
cross (right), and Dr Alison Peck (left) eating snow, in
And here's the decorative
cross again, with Marlowe Peck in the foreground, late September
And here are Marlowe and Kristin on Mont Sâla
in October 1995. [Camping on Mont
Kristin on Mont Sâla, October 1995,
La Dôle on the horizon.
Marlowe Tyson Peck crawling round near the
Mont Sâla summit, September 1999.
Mr D. Peck, not too far from the decorative
cross, September 1999.
Dr. J. J. Pirri striving towards the decorative
cross of Mont Sâla, not surprisingly approaching
it from the worst possible direction, straight up through the
cliffs on the southeast side.
Dr Pirri, about 3/4 of the way up, wonders
why it should be so hard to find a decorative
cross in this age of robust, resurgent christianity, but
Dr Pirri is not easily discouraged, especially when . . .
his hiking companion signifies that the decorative
cross is in sight (November 2001).
Dr Pirri, encouraged by this news, wraps up
against the chill and perseveres.
Surmounting the shrubberly rockbands on
the front side of Mont Sâla, Dr Pirri is blessed with
a vision of the decorative cross,
which, like many other things, affects him deeply.
Here's the view from Mr Pirri's stance in
the photo above: the wonderful hidden valley of the Combe des
Begnines on the left, the Grand Cunay on the horizon in the center,
and the least recommended route to the top, just completed by
Dr Pirri and unwitting hiking companion, dipping precipitously
away to the right.
From the Carte National de la Suisse,
25,000 scale: 1241, Marchairuz.
(Some views of Le Couchant farm
(Some views of Marlowe T. Peck
camping on Mont Sâla, 1995 and 1999, here.)
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 1 September 2002,
revised 4 April 2008.