Refuge du Couvercle : Balcons de la Mer de Glace

Refuge du Couvercle : Balcons de la Mer de Glace


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Associated waypoints

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  • Swisstopo - 46 - Val de Bagnes
  • Swisstopo - 282 - Martigny
  • Swisstopo - 292 - Courmayeur
  • Swisstopo - 1344 - Col de Balme
  • IGN - 3531ET - St-Gervais les Bains - Massif du Mont Blanc
  • IGN - 3530ET - Samoëns/Haut-Giffre
  • IGN - 3630OT - Chamonix - Massif du Mont Blanc
  • Escursionista - ESC01 - Monte Bianco, Courmayeur



route_types: return_same_way
durations: 1 day(s)

quality: medium

Download track as




elevation min/max : 1075 m / 2735 m

height_diff: +1877 m / -225 m

route_length: 10.804 km


glacier_gear: glacier_safety_gear


A great way to the Couvercle hut visa the true right bank of the Mer de glace, using ladders etc.

Route 4 to 5h

Descent to the Mer de Glace 30min
From the Montenvers railway station, follow the path (S) towards the Mer de Glace ladders, (signposted). Climb down the ladders to reach the glacier, can be busy.
Crossing the Mer de Glace 30min
Pick out a large white square painted on the rocks in the middle of some vegetation and another less easy to see lower down to the left. Cross the glacier towards these (SW). Depending on the season (e.g. late summer) the route may well be lots of cairns and/or a good track.
Climb the ladders 30min
Go up a series of ladders, the first of which is steep.
The "Balcons" 3h
Follow the path which passes underneath the Charpoua (and the hut of the same name).
A succession of ups and downs and short, easy ladders make up the long traverse to the Couvercle hut.
Variant : refuge de la Charpoua
To reach the Charpoua hut, go up the moraine and then overcome a rock band equipped with ladders and ramps to the hu
Do not linger while under the seracs of the Charpoua glacier.

Descent/return 3 to 4h

Two options :
1. By the same route
2. From the hut go down to the Leschaux glacier by the very steep Egralets ladders (near the junction of the Leschaux/Mer de glace).
Go down the Mer de Glace to reach Montenvers.


• A long day, be careful not to miss the last train.
• The surface of the glacier can change from one day to the next.
• The Montenvers ladders are in double, (sometimes in triple) to avoid ascending and descending parties causing a jam. This is not the case with the Egralets or Balcon ladders.
• The Egralets ladders are long and vertical Being roped up or using via ferrata gear is recommended.
• The GPX track was made form the map and aerial photos so may not be 100% accurate.
• For less experienced parties increase the time given by 50%.

Sensitive areas
There are sensitive areas on this route. Please refer to the map.


• For « non-alpinists » a rope is recommended. The Montenvers ladders are equipped with special karabiners. The Egralets ladders are equipped with “pig’s tails”. The rest are not equipped for easy protection. A helmet is recommended for everybody.


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