Beautiful forest trails leading to secluded clearings containing oh, so climbable boulders of many shapes and sizes. If you’re thinking Fontainebleau you are mistaken this is Les Songenaz near or in the village of Les Bossons. I’m calling it Les Bossons as it’s a very short walk from Les Bossons Train station.
The problem with I’m finding with Chamonix and Mont Blanc in general is the lack of boulderers, that’s right not climbers, boulderers. This isn’t a dis though. If I had the money and resources to trail thousands of pounds of hardware and rope, a team of equally skilled climbers and the money for guides to assist us touring the various must do’s of Mont Blanc, you bet I would. But I don’t, plus I like the instantaneousness and purity of bouldering. Just you, your shoes (not vital), some
chalk (again not vital) your trusty mat/s (not vital, but risky) and the rock face, everything else is just creature comforts.
I’ve been struggling to find people who know the area enough or have even heard of places to boulder. I often find the local people telling me the nearest place is the climbing centre in Les Houches. A climbing centre!?! We are in a valley surrounded by Thee Alps, it literally takes around 20 minutes maximum to walk from the foot of one mountain to another. The shops in Chamonix village sell bouldering mats. Quite a large selection too, Snap are based here, even Grivel make bouldering mats here! I passed one guy while I was on the train, he had a bouldering mat. If he had got on the bloody train I would have grilled him for answers, language barrier on not. Scouring the UKC website states there are bouldering sites, I’ve found the directions a little vague and ropey. So I went looking myself.
Les Bossons boulders how to get there:
Forget driving, get a train or bus to Les Bossons train station, leaving the train station entrance walk diagonally across the street towards the entrance to the road heading up towards the mountain side. The Hotel Aguille Du Midi is further on up this road. At the end of this road there is a junction and a sign saying Les Songenaz, take the left and follow this road all the way. This road has houses all along it and takes a sharp right half way along, it continues on a fairly steep ascent up the
mountainside. During this you will come pass a slight fork in the road with a small dark wooden hut in the centre of the fork, keep to your left you are nearly at the forest entrance. Pretty soon you will come to a curve in the road to the right, on this bend there is a small barrier of rocks and a sign set so high up (Le Cerro) that you might miss it. This is the forest entrance, nearly there! Follow the trail through the forest. When I was there a few trees had what looked like small England flags and white circles red dots painted on them, I don’t expect these to last but if they are there follow this route.
The path comes to another sign stating Le Cerro & Les Songenaz, as you look up the pathway, (which by now is a picturesque tree thronged corridor) you will see the tip of the 1st boulders overhang.
At this point I didn’t think I would find any boulders and was just overjoyed to find this massive and really difficult beast. I couldn’t see the forest for the boulder if you will. On further investigation I found this area is littered with many boulders comparable to this monolith. Most of the boulders I found had at least a lightly trodden path to them. Many were on the well carved paths of the walkers and ramblers, just following these will get you to most of the juicy ones. The biggest boulders I found were 10 feet tall and up, have nice clearings and are well lit by the sun, so they are fairly clean and dry. I doubt this area gets much regular bouldering action so many of these rocks have a fairly mossy side or two. No big deal and you can always give it a quick touch with a brush.
You could literally spend days working on routes here, it would take many extensive visits to do most of them so you won’t get bored easily and the scenery is outstanding, as expected from the alps. For anyone looking to visit the Les Bossons bouldering area I would suggest a couple of rock brushes to clean the mossy ones up a little. There are not many easy routes so take your time scope out a few boulders don’t just bounce yourself of one boulder all day and get sick of it there are loads to chose from, I would advise a something to wipe your feet dry and you will definitely need mat/s and a spotter as some of the tricky routes have a very uneven landing zone that run down hill.
Take a few hours, a few friends and a picnic, the scenery and location is spectacular but you are a good 20min walk from the nearest restaurant, there are no shops. Finally, as always have a care about the area you’re visiting, don’t leave it in a mess and try to make as minimal impact on the environment as possible. This isn’t some eco speak, but it will be nice when you get there and you will want it to be nice when others visit and for your return.