Pointe noire de Pormenaz
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Pointe noire de Pormenaz
Passy

Pointe noire de Pormenaz

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An extension of the Lac de Pormenaz walk to enjoy a superb panorama!
The summit of Pointe de Pormenaz offers a 360° panorama. To get there, you will first have to find the starting point of this unmarked trail, located at the lake. The trail is more obvious after its starting point. It crosses complex formations mixing limestone and crystalline rocks forming the Aiguilles Rouges massif, of which the Pormenaz Mountain is one end.

35 points of interest

View on Le Dérochoir

Le Dérochoir is the result of successive landslides. The first known and documented dates back to 1471. The second and last, at least for the moment, occurred in 1751. At the foot of the cliff stands a huge landslide cone which forms an unstable slope.
These various landslides created a passage making it possible to cross the Fiz ridge.
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Peak

The mont Blanc before mountaineering

Many mountaineers dream of climbing mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe. But it has not always been that popular. In the past, the inhabitants of mountain villages were scared of the mountains environment which led to numerous superstitions, as you can tell from the names given to the summits (“Mont Maudit”, meaning Damned mountain, Aiguilles du Diable, meaning Devil peaks, etc.). Only shepherds, chamois hunters and crystal miners (mining rock crystals) frequented these hostile environments. The first ascents were made by daring "outsiders" who employed these mountain experts as guides.
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Fauna

The Griffon Vulture

It visits the Haute-Savoie region during the summer. The species is monogamous, that is to say that couples stay together for their entire life!

This bird lives in colonies of different sizes, the closest of which are located in southern Vercors. Especially the young individuals who explore new territories. To feed, this bird is also able to cover hundreds of kilometers thanks to its gliding technique, depending on favorable weather conditions.
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Fauna

The Common Raven

It is the largest of all passerines and corvids!
Alternately feared or venerated, it is the hero of myths and legends in many cultures. Persecuted for a long time, it is now protected. The size of a buzzard, it can be specifically recognized by its diamond-shaped tail and its hoarse call. It is an omnivore, which means that it feeds on carrion, eggs, chicks or berries!
The couples, which are united for their life time, carry out aerobatic courtship rituals! Apart from humans, the Golden Eagle is its only predator.
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Fauna

The Golden Eagle

Everything about this bird is exceptional! With a wingspan up to 2 meters, each couple controls a territory as big as 10 000 football pitches! Its X-ray eyes detect prey movements for over 1 kilometer of distance. Its eyes are like magnifying glasses that magnify 6 to 8 times what its perceives and it has a 240 degrees field of vision. In addition to colors, it is able to detect ultraviolet light, a major asset for this great hunter who can swoop down on its prey at a speed of 350 km/h. But no one is perfect: it misses 9 prey out of 10!
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Fauna

The Black Woodpecker

It is the largest of the 8 woodpeckers present in France. Originally an exclusive mountain species, it is now also found in the valleys! Indeed, it adapts to both deciduous and coniferous forests, as long as they cover large areas and include dead wood and old trees with large diameters.
It is easily recognized by its entirely black plumage enlivened by a bright red spot, limited to the nape on the females and more extensive on the males.
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Fauna

The Hazel Grouse

It is the smallest and most discreet of the mountain Galliformes species.
It is much less known than the Black Grouse or the Rock Ptarmigan because it lives exclusively in the forest!
But it is as important as the others from a biological and scientific point of view: it is an indicator species of environmental changes. Its specific demands in terms of vegetation and diversity of tree species ask for an adapted forest management. Bad preservation management of this habitats is one of the main causes of regression of the species.
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Flora

The Mountain Ash

It is a small tree growing in forest edges. Its fruits are red orange berries loved by thrushes and blackbirds.
The fruits can be used to make to make brandy, jelly or jam. But be aware that they are toxic at maturity, so you have to pick them earlier!
In the nature reserve, the Mountain Ash is part of a participatory science program intended to measure the impact of climate change on the ecosystems of the mountain.
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Flora

The Downy Birch

There are four species of birch in Europe and the one growing here is the Downy Birch. Its sap and bark have many medicinal properties, and is useful for natural drainage and as a remedy against rheumatism, fatigue or allergies!
In the reserve, birches are monitored as part of the "Phénoclim" program implemented by CREA and intended to measure the impact of climate change on plant cycles.
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The 'Ayères'

Originally, the word "Ahier" comes from a roman patois meaning Sycamore Maple. The words "pierrières" and "roc" are references to the numerous boulders, evidence of the landslides of Dérochoir, including the one in 1751 which killed 6 people and a few domestic animals. All these cabins were alpine cabins for agricultural use. They are now used as holiday cottages.
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Architecture of mountain pasture chalets

Some of the alpine cabins are more than a century old.

Construction features at high altitude are strongly related to the immediate surroundings: stones for the walls, basic – but resistant to winter conditions! – framework made out of spruce.

Originally, the roof was covered with ‘tavaillons’, a kind of wooden tiles.

These buildings, used for agricultural activity during the summer, were of rudimentary comfort and housed the shepherd and its owner’s family.
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The alpine cabin

The alpine cabine is a small building which, gattered with others, forms a small hamlet. These constructions were originally intended for the organization of agricultural life in the mountains. These cabins were used in the summer to shelter the shepherds and their family. They were also used for milking and the production of cheese and other dairy products.
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Fauna

The whistled language of groundhogs

Groundhog is the favorite meal of the Golden Eagle and an important item in a fox diet.
Always vigilant, standing up, it surveys its environment to avoid to be caught. Thanks to a very wide field of vision, and excellent hearing and smell abilities, nothing goes unnoticed. In case of alert, it warns the others with an alarm call: very high-pitched and brief for a danger coming from the sky, whistled and repeated for a danger on the ground. And that danger may be you!
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The history of the Passy nature reserve

During the 1970s, the wealth of the natural areas of Haute-Savoie were highly conveted. The appetite of promoters and the many tourist development projects raised increased protest. The French State responded by the creation of 9 national nature reserves.

The national nature reserve of Aiguilles Rouges was created in 1974, and a few years later in 1977 the Sixt-Fer à Cheval / Passy nature reserve.

A small territory, settled between these two areas, will become the nature reserve of Passy in 1980.
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Livestock guardian dogs

These are livestock guardian dogs, their presence is allowed in nature reserves. They defend sheep and ewes from larger predator attacks, such as wolfs. Often large sized dogs, qualified as "molossoid", they spend their lives protecting herds to which they are very attached.

When approaching the herd, it’s very important to observe carefully the dog’s behavior and to take it in account while respecting the following instructions:
- Stay away from the herd (bypass it if possible) - Announce your presence by speaking out loud to avoid surprising the herd and dogs
- Keep calm and avoid sudden movements, keep walking without running. Talk gently to the dogs so that they get used to your presence and accept it.
- Avoid looking straight into the dog’s eyes and hold an object between you and the dog.
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Fauna

The wolf

The wolf made his return in France, on its own, since the 90’s. Coming from Italy, the species first colonized the southern Alps, then the whole alpine region.

Since the summer of 2019, there is evidence of its presence in some of the nature reserves of Haute-Savoie, which explains the presence of livestock guardian dogs watching over several herds.

Indeed, the wolf is carnivorous. It feeds mainly on wild animals such as Chamois or Roe Deer. But it can also consume ewes or sheep, especially from unprotected herds.

So in order not to interfere with the work of the dogs, please follow the instructions!
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Mountain pastures, a mountain tradition

The mountain pasture is a mountain meadow intended to feed livestock (cows, sheep, goats, etc.) during the summer, while the meadows in the valley, which are more accessible, are used for mowing (cutting the grass). The grass, once dried, becomes hay that can be kept for a long time. Livestock will be fed on hay during the winter.

The breeding of milk producing cows was once a tradition. Nowadays, in the Passy Nature Reserve, you can find rather large herds of sheep for meat production.
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Flora

The Great yellow Gentian

This large perennial plant, more than 1m high, is found in meadows, moors or forest clearings of the mountain and subalpine levels.
Used in phytotherapy, it should not be confused with the highly toxic False Helleborine – also called White Hellebore-, next to which it grows and which looks very similar!
Only the flowers are not alike, those of the Gentian are yellow. When not flowering, you can use the leaves to distinguish both species: Gentian is opposite-leaved, while the leaves of the False helleborine borne along the stem alternately (alternate-leaved plant).
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Tintins cabin

This cabin, which is more of a shepherd's shelter, was built under "La Pierre à l'Ours". It served as a shelter for a shepherd looking after his herd here until the 1960s. In 1959, the shepherd was 14 years old and watched over 2000 sheep. But where is the bear? To find it, move to the side of the stone and look carefully, it's there!
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Fauna

The Alpine Ibex

This protected species almost disappeared from the Alps at the end of the 19th century, mainly due to hunting or poaching.
Various successive reintroductions in the entire Alps region have made it possible to increase the numbers of the populations although the stability of these populations is still threatened.
In the nature reserves of Haute-Savoie, Ibexes are included in the monitored species and research programs intended to study its health conditions or to improve the management of its populations
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Fauna

The Bearded Vulture

A wingspan of almost 3 meters, a bright orange body, a red circled eye, black feathers on either side of its beak forming a goatee, were enough to scare the alpine populations who considered the Bearded Vulture as the incarnation of the devil!
Exterminated from the Alps at the beginning of the 20th century, this harmless and majestic bird is back in the alpine skies thanks to the largest animal reintroduction program initiated 30 years ago in Europe.
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Refuge

The refuge of Moëde-Anterne

It has been the property of the Didier family since a long time. Originally (in 1946), the refuge was located in the old building which still exists! In 1994, the new refuge was built. Today it is the biggest refuge on the trails of Tour des Fiz and Tour des Aiguilles Rouges. It is also located on the hiking trails GR5 and Grande Traversée des Alpes.
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Lake

The "laouchets" of Pormenaz

These small, shallow bodies of water are mistakenly called lakes.
Locally they are called "laouchets", which means "small bodies of water". Shallow, these bodies of water are home to a rare and protected species, the Sparganium or Narrowleaf Bur-reed, as well as to significant biodiversity. Eventually, these “laouchets” will fill in and become peat bogs.
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Flora

The Narrowleaf Bur-reed

What you see on the surface of Laouchet is not an algae but a flowering plant with long narrow leaves, like ribbons with changing reflections, that float on the water. The Narrowleaf Bur-reed grows in calm, cold and shallow waters of mountain lakes and ponds. It has, below the surface, stems filled with nutritive reserves called rhizomes. With the natural filling process of Laouchet, the Narrowleaf Bur-reed spreads, intensifying the process by the accumulation of its wilted stems and leaves each winter.
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Bogs

Probably small bodies of water in a distant past. In this place, the filling-in of these former small water bodies created a bog. Archaeological excavations on its perimeter revealed evidence of human occupation dating back to the Bronze Age (-2200 years BC), the Iron Age (-800 years BC) and Antiquity (-52 years BC). It is thanks to the human made fires and their carbon 14 dating that we have been able to go back in time.
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The 'Lac sentinelle' program

Emblematic environments of the mountains, high altitude lakes are fragile ecosystems. The extreme climatic conditions of their environment generate a specific system that is not well known. Recent studies call in question their representativeness of preserved nature. The "Lacs sentinelles" program, implemented by the manager of the reserve, was set up in order to coordinate research and observation of alpine lakes. The challenge of the program is to improve the understanding of these lake systems and the threats they face, in order to preserve them better. The Lac de Pormenaz is thus one of the studied lakes.
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Geology

The Fitz ridge, a cliff that came from the sea

This impressive rock wall was created in a tropical sea. Over the millennia, marine organisms with shells or skeletons of limestone sedimented on the seabed. These sedimented organisms added to debris of eroded rocks formed different layers depending on the era.

As Mont-Blanc uplifted, this stack of layers creased and broke. Erosion then exposed this magnificent wall, the fossils of which testify to its oceanic origin.
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The mines of Pormenaz

The mountain of Pormenaz is hosting several mines which were exploited from Gallo-Roman times until the 12th century. Argentiferous lead, auriferous and copper pyrites and antimony were extracted from these mines. It was mainly lead and silver that were sought after. About 125 kg of lead and 1 kg of silver were extracted from one ton of ore.
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Fauna

Odonates

Odonates, more commonly known as dragonflies, are insects.
There are two stages in their lifecycle: a "larva" (or nymph) stage which is aquatic followed by a terrestrial stage, when the adults are grown to adults.
Dragonflies are predators: they are carnivores that feed on different types of prey depending on their stage. They eat other insects as well.
Their distribution is strongly linked to climate conditions and any change has a strong impact on their presence. Destruction of their wetland habitats is one of the main threats to dragonflies.
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Fauna

The Grass Snake

Semi-aquatic, it mainly frequents wetlands but also drier environments hosting its main prey, such as amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders or newts).
It's a protected species, like all reptiles!
It can be identified by its round pupils, its olive grey color and its double black and white or yellow collar shaped pattern. Or by another special feature: when it feels in danger, it spits out a foul smelling liquid and pretends to be dead, revealing its two-colored piano pattern on its ventral surface!
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Lake

Lac Vert

This amazingly colored lake was probably formed by the landslide of the Dérochoir rock (Fiz ridge to the north) in 1471.
There are several explanations for its emerald green color, including the surrounding vegetation consisting mostly of spruces, which are reflected in its waters. But the presence of blue algae or cyanophyceae in the lake is also a probable cause.
The water comes from sources providing the lake by its surface and underground.
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Fauna

The common Toad

Kissing a toad transforming it into a charming prince is a myth! You must not touch this protected species, which is sensitive to diseases that humans could transmit.
But you can look it in the eyes to observe its horizontal pupil and its orange iris. You will also notice its parotid glands on the back of its head. They are used to secrete a venom, the "bufotoxin" intended to keep away any possible predator.
The toads and frogs are not the same species; toads live mostly in the forest, out of the water, joining it only during the breeding season !
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Fauna

The Common Minnow and the Common Chub

Minnows are very common in highly oxygenated waters. Its presence in high altitude lakes is due to trout fishing activities. Used as bait by fishermen, it colonized these mountain lakes.

The Chub is a rather large fish, very widespread in France. It is an omnivore, which means that it eats everything. In many European countries, especially in the east, it is of highly culinary interest.
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The history of Plaine-Joux

From forest to mountain pasture, Plaine-Joux has not always been a ski resort as reflected in its name, which would mean "forest on a flat space".

As early as the 1930’s, the inhabitants of Passy were already practicing ski activities in this location enjoying a magnificent panorama. It was around 1965 that it officially became a communal ski resort. Even nowadays, Plaine-Joux remains, as well in summer as in winter, a popular family resort for skiing, hiking, paragliding... and contemplation.
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Geology

The mont Blanc

Beneath the snow and the glaciers, two main rock types form the Mont-Blanc Massif: the sharp edges and the highest peaks are made of very hard granite (from the left to the right: Aiguilles de Chamonix including Aiguille du Midi, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Mont Maudit, summit of mont Blanc) while the rounder - because softer - parts are in gneiss (from the left to the right: Dôme du Goûter, Aiguille du Goûter, Aiguille de Bionnassay,...).

These two so-called crystalline rocks come from the core of the Earth in fusion.
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Description

Departure in front of Maison de la Réserve naturelle de Passy.
  1. Take the paved road in front of the restaurant "Lou Pacheran".
  2. Direction Moëde-Anterne refuge, Col et Lac d'Anterne. Take the track up towards the refuge of Moëde-Anterne, Col et Lac d'Anterne. Beacon 102.
  3. At the orientation table, continue straight ahead on the track towards the refuge of Moëde-Anterne, Col et Lac d'Anterne. Beacon 103.
  4. Continue on the track towards the refuge of Moëde-Anterne, Col et Lac d'Anterne.
  5. Continue on the track towards Ayères des Pierrières, Col et Lac d'Anterne. Beacon 16.
  6. Cross the hamlet of Ayères des Pierrières.
  7. Take the track on the left towards the refuge of Moëde-Anterne, Col et Lac d'Anterne. Beacon 121.
  8. At the basin, stay either on the track that goes up to the left, or take the path straight ahead. Caution, aerial passages! Beacon 134.
  9. Stay on the track towards the refuge of Moëde-Anterne, Col d'Anterne.
  10. Stay on the track towards the refuge of Moëde-Anterne, Lac de Pormenaz.
  11. At the refuge, take the track towards Lac de Pormenaz. Beacon 124.
  12. Take the track straight ahead towards Lac de Pormenaz. Beacon 125.
  13. Take the track on the left towards Lac de Pormenaz. beacon 99.
  14. Take the track on the left along the lake of Pormenaz in the direction of the chalets de Pormenaz, Pointe noire de Pormenaz. Beacon 127.
  15. At beacon 128. Head towards Pointe Noire de Pormenaz. Follow the track which is marked with yellow-tipped stakes.
  16. For the return, go down to point 13 - beacon 99. Either take the direction of Chalets du Souay par les Argentières. Aerial track. Either take the direction of the Moëde-Anterne refuge and go down to Chalets d'Ayères. Then head towards Le Châtelet d'Ayères - Le Lac Vert.
  17. Beacon 97. Head towards Châtelet d'Ayères - Lac Vert.
  18. Beacon 95. Direction Lac Vert.
  19. Take the direction of Plaine Joux. By paved road. Beacon 94.
  20. Beacon 93. Take the track to the right towards Plaine Joux.
  21. Take the direction of Plaine Joux by the road, on the left.
Departure : Maison de la Réserve naturelle de Passy
Arrival : Maison de la Réserve naturelle de Passy
Towns crossed : Passy, Servoz

Altimetric profile


Recommandations

Always be careful and plan ahead when hiking.
Asters, CEN 74 can not be held responsible for the occurrence of an accident or any inconvenience on this itinerary.
The trail les Argentières has aerial passages on the way back. An alternative trail to go back down is possible.

Transport

Bus SAT Mont-Blanc L85

Access and parking

Reach the Passy-Plaine Joux resort by road D43.
Parking at the entrance of the station.
Bus line L85 (SAT Mont-Blanc).

Parking :

Plaine Joux

More information


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