Hiking to the Orny Hut guarantees a sense of wonder and is a good introduction to the Alps. Situated opposite the Orny Glacier and surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the hut offers a stunning panorama.
Departure for Orny Hut in Wallis
“We have families coming with their children,” tells us the person on the phone when we are trying to find out how difficult the hike is. Decision taken, this weekend we are going to the Orny Hut in Wallis. Three friends join us, including a couple, who has never done real hiking in the mountains.
“Do you have a sleeping bag? You have to buy one,” Olga gives a final advice before our departure. “Don’t forget to take warm jackets. Even if it’s hot, it can quickly get cold in the mountains,” we make sure to cover all the basics with our friends so that our hike goes well.
We leave Geneva. We make sure one more time that our friends have everything they need. “You didn’t forget your jackets, did you?” Olga makes the final check. It seems it’s all good, and we are leaving for Wallis.
Hiking from Champex-Lac to Orny Hut
Once arrived at Champex-Lac and parked the car, we visit the village and linger a little bit on the shore of the lake before going towards the summits.
From Champex-Lac we have two choices – go to the Orny Hut by taking the Breya cable car or entirely on foot. Errol suggests we go on foot, without taking the cable car. Serious mistake but we don’t know it yet…
We begin our climb from Champex-Lac though larches and under the cable car line. The hike proves to be long and monotonous, without too much interest.
Once we reach the Breya upper station with its restaurant, we start our ascent to the Orny Hut. We take the path above the Combe d’Orny. It starts as a gentle slope, and during the first hour we are gaining little altitude.
The hiking trail becomes very narrow, with very steep slopes, and the void is very marked. Some passages require certain skills, and some among us don’t like too much the narrow passages with the void. This trail is an introduction to the alpine world – some passages are equipped with chains for a better grip.
Along the way we encounter the groups of well-equipped climbers, who are here to conquer the cliffs, with ice axes and crampons tied to their bags. We think we are the only ones, who don’t carry this kind of equipment.
The view opens, but the sky closes.
As we move forward, the weather is getting worse. The mist gradually appears, and the visibility becomes limited. Thunderstorm is on its way.
When we get to one of the passages with the chains, the visibility is almost zero. The path is too narrow to sit and there is no shelter to wait for the storm to pass. We have no choice but to move forward.
We put on our fleeces and Gore-Tex jackets. Our friend also puts on her “jacket”… which appears to be a long-sleeved cotton shirt in addition to a skinny plastic as a layer.
The rain is pushing us to the limit. We are completely soaked …. Some of us are colder than others.
Olga would like to take photos to recall this moment but the camera doesn’t focus as the mist is too dense. We keep walking. As if fog and storm weren’t enough, a violent hail arrives. Our jackets barely provide any protection.
After walking for some time in these conditions, our friends want to turn back. But we don’t know if we are closer to the Orny Hut or to our point of departure. We call the hut to check but they are unable to help us as we cannot tell where we are exactly – somewhere in the mountains, on the way to the hut, near the bend with some big stones… No, that doesn’t help.
With this inclement weather and the cold, we feel lost in the middle of nowhere. The person on the phone asks us if we have walking sticks. “Yes,” we are proud to be well equipped, at least one person among all of us, without really understanding the why of his question. “Well, you have to leave them behind… Metal can attract lightning,” is his straightforward advice.
This is what we do right now. We will have a bit of trouble on our way back to locate the cluster of stones, where we have hidden them.
We decide to continue walking to the hut. Lightning is very close, flash and bang are almost instantaneous. Very impressive!
The trail becomes steeper before reaching the moraine of the Orny Glacier. Still no hut.
The visibility is very limited but every step counts. The expectation to see the Orny Hut miraculously emerging from the fog gives us an impression of eternity, and we feel that our ascent has no end.
We are tired, we are cold and we are somewhat lost hope to see this hut one day. We feel our friends’ despair … This is their first real hike. Maybe the last one too …
But luckily, this ascent is the last one. Now we are close enough to finally see the silhouette of the hut. A great relief!
After our last efforts to climb a few remaining meters, we are finally reaching what we could call a refuge for survivors.
We are well welcomed! By the time we arrive, everyone has already eaten. We are wet and numb with cold but happy. Our hosts serve us dinner and give a portable heater to dry our clothes and especially, to warm us up.
The next day we get up a bit late, but it doesn’t matter. It’s going to be a good day. Most people have already left the hut to climb the rocks. We can see them from the distance.
As for us, we take it easy and go for a small walk near the lake before getting ready to start our descent to Champex-Lac.
Today the weather is beautiful, and we admire the Orny Hut and its splendid panorama.
Located at 2,811m, the area around the Orny Hut is amazing, set between two small lakes and in front of the Orny Glacier with its crevasses. The first stone hut with the space for 10 people was built in 1876 and was replaced in 1893 by a wooden hut. The current Orny Hut was built 150m higher in 1975, and its capacity was increased in 1985 to accommodate about 90 people.
We say goodbye to our hosts, thank them again for their warm welcome and begin our descent to Champex-Lac.
The way back follows the same road. We mustn’t linger as the cable car to Champex-Lac is open until about 5pm. This time we take the cable car.
The hike to the Orny Hut is a wonderful walk when the weather is nice and when you can admire the Orny Glacier and the panorama of the snow-capped alpine peaks. We would love to do it again.
Access: The Orny Hut is situated in the canton of Wallis in Switzerland, in the Mont-Blanc massif. Located at 2,811m, it’s accessible from Champex-Lac by taking the Breya cable car or entirely on foot via Combe d’Orny.
Hike to Orny Hut from Champex-Lac by Breya cable car: 2h30
Hike to Orny hut from Champex-Lac on foot via Combe d’Orny: 4h30
Hike from Champex-Lac using Breya cable car: T3 (demanding mountain hiking), with about 600m altitude difference.
Hike from Champex-Lac via Combe d’Orny: T3 (demanding mountain hiking), with about 1’300m altitude difference.
The Orny Hut is open all year but guarded only in summer – from early June to the end of September.
Dormitories with mattresses, pillows and duvets provided.
For hygienic reasons, all visitors are required to bring a sleeping bag or linen to spend the night.
Reservations required – half-board (dinner, overnight stay, breakfast).
The Orny Hut belongs to the Swiss Alpine Club (CAS), offering a discount to its members.
Experienced hikers can continue from the Orny Hut to the Trient Hut, located at 3’170m, by bypassing the lake behind the hut. There are passages with firn and one passage with a ladder.
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Written by ANYWAYINAWAY
Olga and Errol are the Swiss-Russian couple behind ANYWAYINAWAY. Passionate about unique culture and traditions, they decided to take career breaks and explore the world with the intention to expand awareness and provide new perspectives to the understanding of ethnic minority people, customs, traditions and culture. They also show the beauty of our planet and try to find something interesting in the ordinary.