Five Early Season Hikes in Lake Tahoe

Some consider Lake Tahoe the spring skiing capital in the US and conditions can be mixed with sun, snow and rain. That being said, spring is also one of the best seasons for hiking in this. region. While snow will stay up high for quite a while, there are plenty of options at lower elevations for hikers of all abilities. The other nice thing about spring is that the crowds die down for a couple of months before the summer ramps back up. Here are five trails that you can hike in the early spring season.

Emerald Point

One of the most beautiful spots in all of Lake Tahoe, this trail get a decent amount of sun and can melt out pretty quickly in the spring. This moderate trail will have you down by the lake staring out at Emerald Bay, with snow covered peaks in the distance. One thing to be aware of is how popular this trail is. If you’re heading here on a weekend, you’ll want to get to the parking lot early to secure a spot.

Legacy Trail

Not only does this path get plowed in the winter, it gets plenty of sun to keep it dry as soon as spring hits! Take the paved path out and back for eight ish miles with minimal elevation gain. Another option is to pop down, even closer to the Truckee River, and hike on a faint dirt path right on the water’s edge. A great trail for the family, the dogs, and bikes.

Emerald Pools

This trail is just west of Truckee and because of its lower elevation, you can head down here as early as march. From the parking you can choose from a mixture of trailheads that pass through thick forest and some rocky terrain. Along the way you will see multiple watering holes that are great summer hangouts. Additionally, you might see rock climbers scaling the cliffs all around.

Emigrant Trail

This trail will likely have spots of snow in the early season, but for the most part should be manageable. A nice cross-country path that take you out and back for around 17 miles, and you will cross through creeks, thick forest, and rocky terrain. Make sure to pack some snack and water as it can take half a day round trip.

China Cove Trail Loop

A nice trail at lower elevation, this one features the beautiful Donner Lake. This area is used for cross country skiing in the winter and melts out pretty quickly in March or early April. A great trail for dogs and overall, very moderate. This trail is great for packing a picnic as you will reach the shores of the Lake after a short while and will have expansive views of Donner Summit.

A month ago, we sent you a satisfaction survey. Many of you answered us.

Before going any further, we remind you that this questionnaire was anonymous: this means that we cannot identify those of you who informed us in the questionnaire of the bugs encountered in the app. We invite you to contact us directly by email at info@whympr.com , on Facebook or Instagram  with any other feedback.

To our last question “What else would you like to see on Whympr?” We had varied feedback but also elements that came back several times. Let’s answer it together.

“When you type in a locale it would be good if your search engine suggests the spots nearby

It’s already available ! On iOS as well as Android , you just have to go to the Cards tab and enter your search as you can see below.

  “A tutorial …? Maybe that will encourage me to finally try it and prefer it to others…

They are in production. We invite you to consult them here .

“Where can I see where I buy detailed topos from the app?  » 

The pro topos already available on iOS (marked with a star in the app) should appear on Android in 2021.

On Android as on iOS, you have a “Store” area available in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.

“You should be able to see the last outings made on a summit when you click on it . »

The last outputs made by summit are already available. They do not appear in the summit sheet but on those of the routes attached to it (see video below)

We are thinking about improving these

“Is it possible to contact people who have gone out to ask questions?

To chat with another user, you can comment on their outing. No chat functionality for the moment!

” IGN maps should be free.

You heard it: “IGN has been making its maps free since January 1, 2021!” . We find this statement everywhere except that it is partially false. In fact, cards “including third party rights or protected by copyright” are not affected by free access,  as the IGN writes in its press release . The IGN maps that we sell are part of these maps.

Where can we access 3D, the degree of inclination of the slopes, the satellite view?

As said just above, you can access these features in the “Select Map”  area by subscribing to premium.

The inclination of the slopes is available on IGN France with the button at the bottom right.

We hope this article answered your questions. If, however, you still have questions or dissatisfaction, write to us and we can even arrange a time for us to call to discuss it.

Ice Climbing Lake Tahoe and the Eastern Sierra

California might not be the epicenter of Ice climbing, but that doesn’t mean this sunny, coastal state doesn’t have a few frozen drips up its sleeve. Form Lake Tahoe, to the Eastern Sierra there are plenty of winter wonderlands to explore with frozen falls waiting to be climbed. We will share a few hidden gems that are worth the walk for some California ice!

Lake Tahoe Region

Cold Stream Canyon

This canyon is well known among Truckee Rock climbers in the summer with great steep granite. In the winter, Ice forms, but like most ice climbs around the Tahoe area you’ll need consistent cold temps to whip these routes into shape. With a variety of options from WI 3- WI4+ there can be plenty of options for the beginner and advanced alike. The approach can vary. Drive pretty far back during dry-ish winters or ski tour for about 5.5 miles if the road is blocked with snow. If you’ve got a snowmobile access become a lot faster!

Eagle Lake Ice

If you’re looking for top notch views to compliment an ice outing, look no further than Eagle Lake Ice. Located near Emerald Bay, you’ll get some of the best Tahoe views from the moment you park your car. The routes are a mix of ice curtains that range from WI3-WI4 and can have some mixed climbing depending on conditions. Generally thought of as a good place to bring beginners, this area is a great place to spend a day when the powder is all dried up.

Lee Vining/June Lake

Chouinard Falls

One of the busier areas when seeking out Ice in California, this area has top rope access, allowing all levels of climbers to enjoy this cold climate sport. The majority of these routes fall between WI2-3 and the wall includes around 8 routes if the ice is formed well. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging there are other ice walls nearby including the Main Wall and the Bard-Harrington Wall.

June Lake Loop

Another great area for beginners the June Lake Loop is known for Horsetail falls. While this area has easy climbing, you’ll still have to put in the effort of a 45 minutes approach. This area is a great way to spend a day if you’re skiing at Mammoth ski resort nearby. On weekends, this area can be busy with guided parties so mid-week might be your best bet.

Eastern Sierra

Mendel Couloirs

There are two classic Eastern Sierra Couloirs on Mt. Mendel which rises, 13,710ft into the sky. Mendel Right is considered to be the true ice classic of the Sierra and is to be taken seriously. You’ll cover 1000 ft. of snow, ice and rock and there will be objective hazards including rockfall to be aware of. Mendel Left or “Ice Nine” is it’s more challenging neighbor route. The route length is similar to the right couloir but the terrain is much more technically challenging. You can expect ice up to WI5, mixed rock and snow and again rockfall can be a serious issue on these routes. If you’re looking for a big day out in serious mountain terrain, Mt. Mendel will fill your cup.

*Bonus* – Yosemite Valley

Widows Tears

Ice climbing in Yosemite Valley? It’s true, there is ice to be had on these famed rock walls, but finicky can be an understatement for these flows. When it’s in, it is considered the longest continuous ice climb in the US and is truly classic. This is a demanding route that when formed, can cover the spectrum of great ice to thin and scary smears. You’ll want a mixed bag of gear including  screws, cams and slings for this 1000ft + route. If you happen to check this one offd the list you can claim an ascent of one of the harder classics to conquer, in a setting that is hard to beat.

While most California’s seek out ice when the snow is lacking, there are still plenty of options throughout the winter. You won’t find the concentration of ice that Montana or Colorado have to offer but Sierra ice has something special to it, and many enjoyable days lie ahead for those willing to seek out these frozen falls.

The Via Alpina: A Modern Day Adventure

Geography teacher, mountain guide and Whympr ambassador, Vincent looks back on his incredible experience : 119 days alone (or almost) on the longest route in Europe.

The Via Alpina in a few words for you?

The Via Alpina has two aspects for me: institutional and symbolic.

First of all institutional because it is the first route that crosses the entire Alpine Arc, the 8 countries of the Alpine convention (Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco , Slovenia and Switzerland). Then, the Via Alpina traces a symbolic route from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean: it goes in the direction of globalization.

I was seduced by the idea of ​​long-distance roaming next to the house, I wanted to show that it was possible to go on an adventure close to home: you can reach the Via in just a few hours by train from Geneva.

Griess Pass - Via Alpina
Griess Pass – Via Alpina

What is it like to go alone for 119 days?

It’s hard. Until then, all my trekking and expeditions were done in teams.

I wanted to find myself facing myself. I didn’t want to be confronted with notions of time or feats. My stages were prepared beforehand but I progressed mainly according to my physical form.

The loneliness was very hard to deal with: both in difficulty and in joy, both internally and geographically. I spent a maximum of 6 days without meeting anyone.

It was not totally confined solitude as friends sometimes joined for a few days on the way.

Physically and mentally, how to properly prepare for the Via Alpina?

It is not possible to prepare for a project like this. The real training? The 20 years of experience in the mountains is what provided the techniques, the little things that make the difference. I was of course meticulous with the gear and took a minimum of it. 

Vincent Tornay in the Dolomites - Via Alpina
Vincent in the Dolomites

What do you remember from this adventure?

It was an initiatory adventure: I needed to find myself alone in the mountains and heal my mourning. Finishing the Via Alpina gave me confidence in the events of life.

I drooled over it and said to myself “  never again  ” but barely 2 months later, I wanted to leave again. This journey was extended by writing and compiling video in order to document the journey.

I was able to take a step back from the events, realize what I really need in life.

If you had to redo the Via Alpina, what would you change?

I wouldn’t do it again like I did because I have a lot of other projects. Why not do it in winter?

The Via is a symbolic red thread, I will remake pieces of it separately: for example, ten days in the Dolomites instead of 2-3 days. I would often be frustrated to leave a massif too early without taking full advantage of it. 

A budget ?

In 2007, I had planned 5,000 to 6,000 euros, counting absolutely while being very large: that is to say about sixty euros per day. Sometimes I spent time without spending: I slept in a tent or was sometimes graciously invited by the guardian of the refuge.

Talk about disconnection / reconnection. What do we disconnect from and what do we reconnect with?

I am very sensitive to the effervescent side of life so going to nature is essential for me. With young people, it should be part of a compulsory course because it helps them gain confidence. I see it when I take a class every year for a few days. They are no longer the same! One of them told me: no need for discipline here because nature imposes it itself.

As a guide, I have met all the profiles! Retirees, working people… Belgian customers at 75 adore trekking like my 16-year-old students. They all have the same desire to “slow down the movement of the head”.

Valais - Via Alpina
Vincent in Valais

It is said of the mountain that it is neither good nor bad, that it quite simply is. What place does fear occupy for you during your most demanding climbs?

I am more and more afraid but it is a healthy fear, which makes you think. Anticipation, take the parameters. My races are more and more prepared.

Today, we are afraid of the unforeseen, because society no longer accepts it in the same way that it rejects the random.

With the years of practice that you have behind you, what has the mountain allowed you to learn about yourself?

In my opinion, this is the best school of life. It has built me, rebuilt me, given me confidence in myself, in others. The mountains gave me a discipline and a framework in life that I would not have found elsewhere. I learned there respect for nature and wonder as well as confidence in life.

You walk it during the day, you dream of it at night.

Find the detailed topos of the Via Alpina by Vincent on the application.

Mountain Biking Lake Tahoe

Mountain Biking in Lake Tahoe covers the spectrum with dreamy lake views, technical downhills, and cross country tours. The Tahoe mountain biking community is flourishing, so you can expect to meet an energetic crowd ready to hit the trail at any local honeypot. If you’re in need of gear upon arrival, you will find plenty of local bike shops ready to assist with repairs, gear, and info.  

No matter what part of the Lake you are visiting you will high quality trail systems at your fingertips. We are going to breakdown a few of our favorite trails around Lake Tahoe and Truckee to help you hit the ground running (or biking).

North Lake Tahoe

Hole in the Wall

You’d better be in shape for this one! A classic 17-mile loop, Hole-in-the-wall offers of a scenic tour off Interstate 80. It starts with a lung buster climb and brings you to top notch vistas of Castle Peak and surrounding ridgelines. Rocky and Technical, you will want to be prepared for anything on this ride. One bonus – you’ll pass some alpine lakes along the way to cool off during the summer heat.

Tahoe Rim Trail

A classic for many reasons, with the most obvious being a trail the circles Lake Tahoe in a stunning 168 mile loop. The first think to note is that bikes are not allowed on all segments of this trail system so study up to find what works best for you and your location. This trail really has it all – from cross country sections to burly downhills requiring complete control, the Tahoe Rim trail may be the most well-known trail system in this region.

South Lake Tahoe

Mr. Toads Wild Ride

Get Ready for an epic and technical 6 miles descent on Mr. Toads. Dropping from the Tahoe Rim trail you will be rewarded with rock drops, well built berms, and a forested setting straight out of a book. This is a classic in South Lake Tahoe and one not to miss if you’ve got what it takes to keep your wits about you.  

Corral

Maybe South Lake Tahoe’s most popular Mountain Biking Trail, Corral is ready to offer up the goods. Features are the name of the game here and you’ll be hit with banked turns, rock hops, table top dirt jumps, log rides and much more. If you’re in the South Lake area this is the trail not to miss, so get your crew together and get ready for a few laps on this gem!

West shore

Paige Meadows

More cross country in nature, this trail is best known for its fall foliage. Accessed from Tahoe City, you will weave and wind your way through a thick pine forest before entering into wide open, aspen filled meadows. Hitting this at the right time in the fall is key to catch those fiery reds and oranges we all love! You’ll be glowing on the downhill as you descend back to the car after this one.

Stamford Rock Loop

This trail, outside of Tahoe City,  has recently been re-worked and made into a mountain bike focused single track. Accessible for any level, there are alternates for more advanced riders to enjoy more technical features. A trail that was once overlooked, is now a local favorite after its recent makeover. Go and get it!

East Shore

Spooner to Marlette

If you’re not quite ready to tackle the 14 mile trip on the flume trail you still have some great options starting from Spooner. Marlette lake is a beautiful alpine lake and a great destination for shorter rides. Still expect some climbing at the beginning, but this out an back will give you a good sense for what to expect on the Flume trail proper.

Flume Trail

If you’re looking Lake Tahoe vistas as you ride – look no further. While this 14 mile (one-way) trail does start with a decent climb, you’re mainly in for a cross-country style ride once you plateau. The trail is stacked with East Shore views that will keep you coming back for more. Coved beaches, aqua marine water, and 360 views, make this trail our favorite for Lake specific riding.   

Truckee

Jackass Trail

You’ll find the locals running post work laps on this 4 mile loop, and for good reason. Jackass is accessible, quick, and contains a variety of well-built features. After about 2 miles of moderate climbing, it’s time to drop that seat and get ready for a fast, flowy, and featured filled downhill. Although there are some more technical features on this trail, most can be ridden around, which allows for a group with mixed rider levels to enjoy. Want to add some milage? Get the local intel on many extensions including Yogi Bear and Jellystone.

Donner Lake Rim Trail

The younger brother to the Tahoe Rim Trail, the Donner Lake Rim trail was an obvious, yet recent addition to the Truckee trail system. A mix of flowy and technical, this trail offers a nice variety while soaking in views high above Donner Lake. While not 100% complete, this trail will offer a 12 mile loops around Donner Lake, offering a 360 view of Truckee’s Alpine vistas.

Trail Running in Lake Tahoe

Photo Credit: Jonathon Fox

Trail running in Lake Tahoe is hard to beat and a great way to cover a lot of ground. Another thing it’s good for, training at higher altitudes. So next time you’re running down low you’ll feel like you’ve got lungs with endless capacity!

You’ll have the chance to cover a wide array of environments including, expansive ridge-lines, thick forested single track, serene summits and of course, views of the majestic Lake Tahoe. So strap on those running shoes and tackle some classic trails recommended by local trail runners!

Truckee

Sugar Bowl to Squaw Valley

Classic for many reasons, this 14-15 mile trail run from Sugar Bowl ski resort to Squaw Valley takes you along a portion of the famed Pacific Crest Trail. Gaining 1,600 feet in the first 8 miles you’ll get your heart rate up in a hurry. Once you get your rhythm you’ll start to enjoy the lichen covered trees, lupin flower fields and frequent mountain meadows. A good route for people looking to cover more distance, this Truckee classic is one to come back to time and time again.

Mt. Judah Loop Trail

This 5 mile loop on the peaks high above the town of Truckee boasts great views, moderate elevation gain and a dog friendly option for those bringing their furry friends. This trail is great for an after work jaunt in the summer and you’ll be rewarded with great views of Donner Lake. Beware that in the Fall and Spring this trail can still be covered in snow, making a moderate run a bit more treacherous.

North Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Rim Trail

A 169 mile loop that circles Lake Tahoe, this is probably the most well-known trail in the area. Don’t be put off by the length as most people choose to do sections of the trail  – and it can be a fun summer project tick off one at a time in order to complete the whole thing! With sweeping views of Lake Tahoe for much of the trail it doesn’t really get more “Tahoe” than this. Be aware that some sections are open to mountain bikers, while others are only for foot traffic.  

Castle Peak

Topping out at an elevation of 9100’, this can be another lung buster of a run. While this outing is considered moderate overall you will come across steep rocky sections, keeping your speed in check as you ascend. Castle peak is a prominent feature as you approach Truckee/Tahoe from Interstate 80 and its mass and beauty reflects a castle in the mountains.

South Lake Tahoe

Echo Lakes Trail

Its good to get to this trailhead early as it can be busy throughout the day and parking can be tricky – and for good reason. Amazing views, alpine lakes and moderate terrain make this 5.3 out and back trail perfect for a quick trail run. More cross-country in nature, with minimal elevation gain, you’ll still come across technical sections as you go. If you’re in South Lake Tahoe and looking for a trail run for people at all levels, this is a great starting place.

Marlette Lake

Starting from Spooner Lake on the South end of Lake Tahoe, this trail run is not only beautiful but allows you to add distance on classic extensions such as the Flume trails and Tahoe Rim Trail if desired. You’ll cover a little over 10 miles and 1700’ of elevation gain as you pass through an alpine dream. Be prepared for crowds on weekends as this can be a hotspot for families, bikers, hikers and beyond.

Along the Shore – West and East

Rubicon Trail 

This trail gets our vote for the most beautiful trail in Tahoe Basin! I know, that’s a big statement, but the ground you cover during this 12 mile out and back trail run is hard to beat anywhere in the US. Passing by iconic locations such as Emerald bay and Vikingsholm, you’ll wind in and out of the forest and right along the shore of Lake Tahoe. If you only have time for one trail run while in the Tahoe basin – put this at the top of the list.

Incline Village Joggers Trail

While not technically a trail run, as this trail is paved, you will still be rewarded with lakeside views the entire time. Three miles each way, this newly finished trail offers runners, bikers, and walkers a nice option with easy access and it’s our vote for most family friendly. Enjoy!

Backcountry Skiing Tips: #1

Whympr has been working with the AMGA to bring you high quality content so you can continue building your mountain skillset while staying safe at home. You can continue to follow this weekly series on our Facebook page with a couple bonus videos on Instagram weekly as well.

Climbing Skin Care:

Your skins need love too! Store them properly, wax them if needed, and make sure the glue is in tact. These quick tips will make your backcountry skiing outing that much more enjoyable and

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Emergency Shelter Preparation

It’s important to be prepared for anything when heading out into the backcountry, especially when spending the night would mean freezing temps. Build your emergency shelter skillset so you are prepared for any scenario that might keep you out in tough conditions.

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/385061186" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href="https://vimeo.com/385061186">Emergency Shelter</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/user18761024">American Mountain Guides Assoc</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Avalanche Beacon Check

Are you beeping? This should be common practice with you and your backcountry partners, in order to make sure everyone has their beacons and that they are working properly. Take some tips from this AMGA video for beacon check procedures to keep your crew safe.

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/384873058" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href="https://vimeo.com/384873058">Beacon Check</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/user18761024">American Mountain Guides Assoc</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Backcountry Skiing in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is known for many outdoor activities, but skiing and snowboarding might be the most sought after. With over 15 ski resorts, a former Olympic destination, and endless backcountry access, you won’t have to worry about having enough terrain to explore.

We’ll cover ski resorts in the area in another article but for now let’s talk backcountry skiing in the Tahoe National Forest. We will cover ski tours all around the lake, so no matter what part of Tahoe you are visiting you’ll have the info you need for a scenic ski tour right out your front door.

The first thing to know when planning a trip to Tahoe is when to expect snow. This can be a challenge as snowstorms have been known to hit the area as early as September and as late as July. In order to have the best chances for a solid base, frequent storms, and consistently colder weather you will want to set your timing between December and March. That being said, some hardcore locals will tell you there are turns to be had every month of the year in Tahoe, if you know where to look!

Now it’s time to get into the good stuff. Below you will find our favorites broken down by area. Do your research, get your avy training and equipment, and stay safe.  

Truckee:

Lake Run:

Donner Lake is Truckee’s version of Lake Tahoe and you tend to get less crowds but equally amazing views high above the town of Truckee. Starting from donner summit you ascend to Donner Peak and drop through a notch giving you access to what can be great powder skiing amongst perfectly spaced trees. As you descend you will come to abandoned train tunnels where you will transition from skiing to walking through a pitch black, icy tunnel until there is a slight opening in the side of one of the walls. This is where you exit and prepare for another drop into playful terrain. Once you reach the bottom it’s time to grab the car you shuttled and head back up to the top to retrieve the other vehicle for an epic outing!

Sunrise Bowl:

Looking for casual, low angle powder turns where you can run laps until you’re legs are burning? Sunrise bowl has off the road access above Truckee in the Tahoe Donner neighborhood. The tour up takes 25-30 minutes and there is a wonderful bowl with fun trees during the descent. Get up early if you want first tracks as people set the skin track pretty early on this local classic.

West Shore:

Rubicon Peak

Tahoe’s West Shore has many beautiful peaks, but Rubicon’s pointed top always sticks out across the skyline. The skin track winds itself through lichen covered conifers and rolling slopes, giving you a taste for what the descent will be like. Once you arrive at the summit you have unparalleled views of Lake Tahoe and you’ll understand why skiers have been attracted to the Tahoe Basin for decades. Not only are you in for a scenic and relatively safe descent, this area can hold powder stashes for a week after a descent storm.

Jakes Peak

A great option for skiers who wants options. Multiple sun angles, and a reasonable drive from anywhere on the Lake, Jakes is popular for a reason. Prepare for steep tree skiing or open bowls on this classic Tahoe ski descent.  Be ready for crowds unless you’re there early, but even if you have to share the views with a few new friends, things could be worse.

East Shore:

Tamarack Peak

This skiing area on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe is a great destination for higher elevation skiing when other places around the Lake might be a bit too warm. Sitting close to 10,000 feet, you have ample opportunity for powder turns galore! With multiple options on decsent such as Hourglass Bowl or Galena Bowl, it’s easy to find fresh tracks while looking across to the Mt. Rose ski resort in the distance. Another accessible route, that deposits you right back at the car makes this one good for running laps.  

South Shore:

Maggies

If you want to knock out two Tahoe classic outing’s in one – Maggies (North or South) Peak should be on your list. Sitting high above the famed Emerald Bay, you’ll get better views than if you’re hiking in the State Park below. On top of getting views of this majestic cove on Lake Tahoe, the skiing is exciting, accessible, and steep in spots. Prepare for about 2 hours to ascend 2-3 miles and take in the scenery as you go!

Mt. Tallac

The Southern shores of Lake Tahoe are dreamy backcountry skiing destinations and Mt. Tallac might be it’s crown jewel. While most people descend the the North Bowl, this mountain offers descents for everyone in your party – from steep chutes to open powder fields. Make sure you’re ready to put in the work as you’ll need to push through at least 5 miles on the skin track to reach the top!

Wherever you go in the Tahoe region make sure you take the time to check the local snowpack, do you route research, check weather forecasts and bring your safety equipment. The Tahoe region offers so much amazing terrain with even better views, so get out there and find the goods!

How to choose a hiking route in France

The beautiful days are back and after weeks of confinement, you have only one desire: to find your ideal hiking route to reconnect with the great outdoors. US too ! But as you know, a savvy hiker is worth two dollars so here is some advice before you set out on the peaks and lakes.

T1 or T5? Choose the level of hiking that suits you.

            Going on a hike is good. Going on the right hike is better. To avoid the disappointments of a too easy hike made for a family ” after the meal, with the parents, the young children and the dog running in the direction  ” as one of my guides said, it’s good to choose a hike that suits you.

Mountain rating - Long hike difficulty
Example of a T3 passage – Choose your hiking route

            Here, we will talk about the most common quotation and that we find on Whympr , that going from T1 to T5. The Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre offers a different rating of the routes but less frequently encountered.

T1 – Hiking: the trail is very well marked from start to finish, the terrain is flat, the risk of falling is excluded. Orientation is not a problem. The exit can be done hiking shoes.

T2 – Mountain hike: the route is not interrupted but the risk of falling is not excluded because the terrain can sometimes be steep. It is recommended to wear hiking boots and have the basics in terms of orientation.

T3 – Challenging mountain hike: The route can experience interruptions, you may have to look for it, like here . Some passages can be exposed and may require the help of the hands (lifeline). You can come across some snowfields (easy to cross) and exposed scree with risk of falling. High-top mountain shoes compulsory to ensure a safe ascent and descent. Having the habit of reading terrain and recognizing stable and unstable rock is a plus. If this is your first hike, go with a local!

T4 – Alpine hike: the route is interrupted several times and the terrain is quite exposed. You will come across steep slopes for which you will have to come well equipped: rigid shoes are strongly recommended. Pay attention to your route on the way up so as not to waste time in the event of an urgent descent if the weather catches you by surprise.

T5 – Challenging alpine hike: markings are becoming increasingly rare and you will spend more time off-trail than on a defined trail. The terrain is exposed and steep, you will come across sloping rocks. If you are prone to vertigo , do not venture there because some passages are easy climbing (2 or 3 maximum). In terms of equipment, tie-in is not necessary but be sure to take crampons. There is a risk of falling – especially in crevasses – and avalanches.

Red, white, yellow: the markup of a hiking trail.

Once you’ve chosen your difficulty, you need to know how to recognize the markup to be sure you don’t get lost.

Hiking route sign - find your way in the mountains
Example of a long-distance hiking trail – GR

GR, GRP, PR: what’s the difference?

            The best known white and red symbol is that of the GR, which means long-distance hiking route . It marks outings that can last from several days to several weeks, taking you from one region to another. Among the most famous, we find the GR 20 which takes you through Corsica or the GR 5 , which takes you from the North Sea to the Mediterranean via the Grande Traversée des Alpes .

            Yellow and red are the colors of a GRP, the great country hike . GRP trails are generally shorter than GR and guide you within the same region.

            A simple yellow line marks a walking and hiking route (PR). Identified by a name and a number, it will take you on small local loops.

            In all cases, the logic of the signage remains the same: if the markup is horizontal, you are on the right track. When there is a cross, you are going in the wrong direction. You will find these markings on panels or painted on trees, rocks, walls of shelters and sheepfolds… so keep an eye out!

            Fairly obviously a PR trail will be easier than a GR but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a GR trail for beginners.

Now that you know the rating and the difference between the different trails, you have to ask yourself the question of the duration of your outing to properly prepare your bag!

A few hours, a day or more: adapt your bag!

            If you are a seasoned hiker this will only be a reminder, if you are new to hiking, do not skip this section!

            Whether it’s half a day or a full day, we can’t say it enough, don’t forget your water, if only for a three hour trip. It may be your first hike but certainly not your first physical effort: you know your usual water consumption. Assume that it will be more important in the mountains, between heat, effort and perspiration, your body will need to hydrate regularly. For a few hours, plan to have at least two liters of water: as long as the drop is intense and exposed to the sun in midsummer sweating could play tricks on you.

Camelbak-type water bottles or bags, it’s up to you to decide what is most comfortable for you. Find out about drinking water points before you go, especially for a long day trip.

            The effort in the mountains will also draw on your sugar reserves, you will want to provide yourself with hiking food. So make sure you have granola bars, dried fruit or chocolate (preferably dark) on hand. Ask the hikers around you: they must have already felt the immediate effect of fast sugars when a climb started to get difficult.

            For lunch, avoid foods that are too salty (such as crisps): they will quickly make you thirsty and will not hold your stomach. Choose tomatoes, apples and a pasta salad prepared the day before: you will hydrate yourself and fill up on slow sugars.

            Finally, the weather . An easy hike can quickly become very complicated in rain and thunderstorms. The weather can change very quickly and you better be prepared: take a windbreaker to stay dry during the downpour.

2L of water, a picnic and groceries, a dry clothing, a windbreaker, a small first aid kit, a charged phone and a good mood: everything fits easily in a 30L bag .

For outings over several days, we will soon write an article devoted to treks: equipment and preparation whether for one night or more.

            The hike should be fun so go at your own pace and don’t be afraid to turn around. Whether you don’t feel good or you have misjudged the effort, feel free to come home. The mountain will always be there, whether it’s the next day or the next year.

Remember to warn relatives or neighbors before leaving and inform them of a return time slot. Risk always exists in the mountains, be careful. You can find here our article on good mountain practices.

Your first mountaineering outing: how to go about it?

Your first mountaineering trip, you will never forget it. This is the moment when you have decided to take the leap: hiking and climbing are not enough for you, you need more.

We’ll tell you right away, you will need a guide .

Mountaineering outing - Guide
Alpine tour guide

How to prepare for your first alpine outing?

            The desire to embark on mountaineering generally manifests itself through long hikes which we think could have gone even further if we had the equipment, the technique and the courage to do so. In order to travel in the mountains and the varied terrain such as glaciers, ridges, and loose rock , make sure you are ready.

If you are used to long outings and bivouacs in the mountains as well as rock climbing, and they go well, you are in the best physical condition to get started.

Your guide will inform you on what gear to bring, but here is the one that Julien Charron told me about , the guide with whom I am going to the Ecrins .

  • Mountain pants;
  • Warm underwear;
  • Warm fleece jacket;
  • Waterproof and breathable jacket;
  • Puffy jacket ;
  • 1 pair of gloves;
  • Sunglasses, face and lip sunscreen;
  • Backpack of medium capacity (30 to 40 liters);
  • Gourd one liter minimum, groceries and picnic food;
  • Headlamp with batteries in good condition;
  • Cap ;
  • Hat or band under the helmet;
  • Walking sticks.
Mountaineering excursion to Punta Innominata summit
La Punta Innominata – A race for experienced climbers

As for the rope, crampons, harness and helmet, your guide will be able to lend you some: if you are not yet sure that mountaineering or glacier racing will please you, wait before buying. Your guide can give you advice and direct you to the best equipment for your needs: after all, the mountains are their job.

How is a first alpine outing going?

            Good. You will likely find it hard to sleep the days leading up to the inevitable excitement that inevitably precedes most mountain runs. We advise you not to aim too ambitious, to be honest with your guide and to go on a simple race. Usually, you are offered two possibilities.

            A one day outing which will suppose a significant positive and negative elevation gain in a short time.

            Or a two-day outing  : climb to the refuge in the afternoon of day 1 and start in the cool (3 or 4 a.m.) on day 2.

            Since the vast majority of mountaineering outings are done first by a hiking approach, I would advise you to opt for the second solution. Not only to soak up the atmosphere as well as possible, but also to have time to chat with your guide and ask all your questions.

            Regarding the risks, we will share with you an article entirely dedicated to the dangers of the mountain and the high mountain but be confident. For a first mountaineering outing supervised by professionals, you will only have to worry about putting one foot in front of the other and starting over.

Have a nice trip!

Selé glacier sunrise mountaineering outing
Sunrise at Sélé – First mountaineering outing