It feels like years since I’ve travelled overseas… actually, it has been years! This hike in Switzerland is from a few years ago, when pre-pandemic overseas work trips provided frequent opportunities to walk a bit further afield. This hike in the Swiss alps starts near Lac d’Émosson, at le barrage d’Emosson – Switzerland’s second largest dam. (The dam was build between 1969 and 1975 and is the second largest dam in Switzerland in terms of its capacity, and the third highest dam in the Valais canton.)
The trail follows Lac d’Émosson, climbing to the Cabane du Vieux-Emosson above the lake before reaching the Lac du Vieux d’Émosson.
Towards the end of the second and higher lake, the trail climbs up steeply towards the the Col de Terrase. HIgh above Lac du Vieux Emosson is a signposted fossil site.
Fossil footprints were discovered in 1976, and years later in 2008 Marco Avanzini (an Italian palaeontologist) identified the species that left the track.
Dating back to 240 million years, the site predates the emergence of dinosaurs with the footprints left by primitive reptiles belonging to the Archosaurian groups (they include the ancestors of both dinosaurs and crocodiles). Resembling dinosaurs, these reptiles looked like short-muzzled crocodile, about 1.5 metres high when standing erect on their feet.
From the fossil site we climb steeply (again) up the Col du Vieux Emosson to just below Le Cheval Blanc (2,831m), where there is a great view over both lakes. (Being mid-September there’s no snow left at this elevation; the fossil site is generally free of snow from July.)
The final ridge to Mont Buet from Pointe du Genévrier is steep and narrow, with a vertiginous drop on both sides – the “passage de la Chaïne”, which is the most difficult section of the walk. A chain provides safe passage and it’s not quite as dangerous as it looks… but you wouldn’t want to have a fear of heights! (In winter Mont Buet is used as a training climb for Mont Blanc, and ‘Mont Blanc Des Dames’ or Mont Blanc for the Ladies!)
From the top of Buet at 3,096m above sea level, there’s a 360-degree panoramic view over the French alps including the Mont Blanc massive and Matterhorn.
There’s still some snow on the peaks, and many snow-covered peaks and glaciers in the distance.
We return the same way; you can also ascend/descend Mont Buet from the south to form a longer
More information on Mont Buet and the Dinosaur Footprints
- Family Earth Trek – Hiking to the two Emosson lakes and the dinosaur footprints
- Vallee du Trient – Vieux-Emosson Geological Trail
- Summitpost – Mont Buet