Dwight Peck's personal website

An afternoon's hike to the Rochers de Naye

above Montreux, Switzerland, and Lac Léman

You may not find this interesting unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Rochers de Naye -- a little bit higher, a little bit farther away every year

Here (on the right) is the Rochers de Naye (2042m) from the west, the Lake Geneva side. But today, 30 July 2006, we're going to sneak up on the Rochers de Naye from the other side.

We're starting out at Aveneyre (1530m) in the military training grounds of Grand Ayerne in the valley of the Hongrin, not far from the lake of Hongrin, which was created by the humongous (125m high) hydroelectric dam that was built in 1969. We've motored in a leisurely fashion from the Rhône valley at Aigle, through Yvorne, Corbeyrier, and Luan through the single-lane tunnel of Sarse (the first 15 minutes of every hour, coming from the valley side).

That's Mont d'Or in the background.

As we march up through the forest, we catch a good glimpse of the Leysin Towers (the Tour de Mayen on the left, and the Tour d'Aï) from the north.

And, from a bit higher up, we have the Leysin tours on the right and the expanse of Sex les Truex left of center. Supposedly a place of Celtic veneration and sitting smack on the European continental Rhône/Rhine water divide. The Tour de Famelon is out of the frame to the left.

Emerging at last from the insecty forest, former Dean Pirri passes the farm at Les Cases (1752m) bound for the first ridge, the Pertuis d'Aveneyre up to the left.


Dr Pirri stands on the Pertuis d'Aveneyre (1846m), trying to make some important calls on his cell phone.

Today's destination, the Rochers de Naye, can be seen . . . over there a ways.

The radio (etc.) towers are on top, and the hotel and railway terminus are just downhill a bit to the right. Looks like this might take a while, so we're going to get focused now.

Our path leads pretty steeply downhill for a few hundred vertical meters, after which we can start getting on with things again and go northward towards the Col de Chaude.


Whilst picking our way along, we divert ourselves with this view of the Lake of Geneva (Lac Léman) and the town of Villeneuve at the near end of it. That's a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, at the mouth of the Rhône just beyond Villeneuve, called Les Grangettes. Lots of waterbirds, etc.

The Col de Chaude is down to the lower right, at the top of a single lane road leading up from Montreux for people who want to drive up and have lunch in the mountains. We need merely to go down there (to 1560m), and then follow that long ridge up towards the side of the Rochers de Naye.

Here are the people, just 80m down from the Col de Chaude (1621m), having a great picnic. They are joyous, and you can hear their shouts of appreciation for their grilled sausages from up here.

The route before us lies along the ridge at the upper right, so, despite the barbecue smells, we'll get on with it.

A last look down at the restaurant montagnard. See that white van on the left -- that's a Suter van. Suter is the company that makes the best bratwurst and other sausages in Switzerland. Like maybe he made a special delivery just for today, and then couldn't force himself to leave.

Dr Pirri's ibuprofen kicks in and he darts off along the ridge towards the Rochers de Naye, back there in the clouds.

Come to think of it, here at 1877m we're probably on a continental divide right now, as well. The Rhône is down to the left, and down to the right . . .

. . . there's the Lac d'Hongrin and the valley of the Hongrin flowing out to Montbovon, Gruyères, and points northward. Like Denmark.

This is the farm at Plan d'Areine, tucked in alongside the last ridge to Naye. Dr Pirri can be seen over on the left, near the cows, trying to make a cell phone call.

And that's the view behind us, the Leysin tours looming!

We're over the last ridge, way behind our scheduled time, unfortunately, and there's the hotel at Rochers de Naye and the summit, with the cog railway track from Montreux on the lower right. (Years ago, the narrator and a friend got caught in that rail tunnel in the centre, trying to avoid superdeep snow outside it, when the train came up and made us dash.)

Telephoto of the hotel, rail terminus, the yurts, and telecom towers on the summit.

Not far from the hotel is one of the oldest and most famous Alpine gardens (jardin alpin) in the world, an 1896 creation dedicated to Eugène Rambert, the 19th century poet and writer from Montreux -- it's got more than 1,000 different flower varieties and competes for range and antiquity with the Thomasia gardens (3,000 varieties) at Pont de Nant, created in 1891.

Most of these people are dedicated botanists who have come up on the cog train to view the specimens.

The hotel from near the Jardin alpin.

The yurts. This is the "marmot paradise", but oddly enough the yurts seem to be intended for people instead. The marmot HQ is that enclosure between the yurts and the hotel.

The rail station, and the marmot yards in the background

An opportunity to have your photograph taken as a . . . well, as . . . Well, as a babe on a marmot.

The paradise of marmots. That little glassy cage is not the half of it. There's a walking tour as well.

To the marmot pens. You can watch them try to hide from you in real time.

[Here's a cute little marmot, but this is from last year in the Vanoise.]

The next train load of botanists and marmoteers is arriving, as we choke down a restorative chunk of Gruyères cheese and prepare to hasten back towards Ayerne and the valley of the Hongrin.

That's where we're headed. Some years ago, I had an annual running route that went from Leysin, up past the Tours on the far horizon, over the Aveneyre range in the middle, along the ridge in the foreground and over the Rochers de Naye, down to Les Avants and down the Gorge de Chauderon to Montreux on the lakeside, in 4-ish hours. At our present pace, this small tranche of it today may well take twice as long . . . if we make it. That's the aging process in a nutshell.


Dr Pirri, of course, doesn't age, so he sort of drags us along with him until we need to lie down and moan for a while.

Dr Pirri contemplating the Col de Chaude road below, wondering whether he should have tried to get hold of my car keys before we got this far. Just in case.

The view from near the Col de Chaude, Lake Geneva and some of the French Savoy Alps. (Queen Victoria's tree can be seen at the near end of the lake.)

The last couple of hundred vertical meters back up to the Pertuis d'Aveneyre. Some years ago, this would probably have gone more smoothly, but now it takes an act of faith even to visualize our Volkswagen station wagon at the end of the walk. That's Dr Pirri up there on top, waving encouragements.

As we walk 30 steps and rest for a while, walk 30 steps and rest for a while, we pause to admire Lake Geneva in the early evening. And then pause and admire it for a while longer. And then resume, but pause to admire it a while longer, and then resume again. Dr Pirri kindly waits for us . . . as we've got the car keys.

More Rochers de Naye

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 8 August 2006, revised 17 January 2008, 26 November 2013.

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