Tour du Mont Blanc • September 1-8, 2016

Six buddies from Sacramento (and Arizona/Bend, OR), came to trek around Mont Blanc with Kathy this early September.


From left to right: Jeff, Jim, Ettore, Denis, Greg, and Karl.


Crossing a Nepalese style hanging bridge early on day 1, we're already getting acquainted with fellow travellers.


Our first night's lodging: the friendly and comfortable Hotel Gai Soleil in Contamines Mont-Joie. Fabulous dinner too!


But perhaps most memorable and welcome: an ice cold foot bath in the fountain!


Our day 2 started with a short shuttle up the road to the chapel of Notre Dame de la Gorge, where we took to the trail once more.


It's a long, hot climb this day; here we are only about halfway through it. Expansive views north toward Contamines however.


Some beautiful orchids to entertain us along the trail.


The high point at last! On the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (say that ten times fast). It's all (steeeeep!) downhill from here.


Looking south into the mountains of the Beaufortain as we descend.


This shady garden is our recompense, at the Auberge Refuge de la Nova.


A fantastic meal! A generous slice of the local Beaufort cheese for dessert.


On day 3, the skies dawned not so blue, but still clear and dry. We come in sight of Mont Blanc once more at the Col de la Seigne.


Crossing into Italy, the skies turn characteristically bluer and the sun warmer. True to form.


Mont Blanc from each angle looks new and different.


This day ends in Courmayeur, and civilization. A stroll down the pedestrian heart of town yields wonders like this (and yes, this did sound about as odd as you would expect)....


... and this!


The next morning we head up once more into the hills. This night will be spent in a mountain hut, the Bonatti. Leaving town via the church plaza.


Near the end of the road and the beginning of the trail.


After an hour and a half of steep hiking, we find these intrepid souls!


But wait, that's not all! There is also a trail race on. 300 km, and this aid station is just one of the first.


Just above, we break out above treeline and get yet another angle on Mont Blanc as we traverse the side of a long ridge.


The ever changing vistas go on and on.


By the time we reach the Bonatti hut and our resting place for the night, the weather is changing fast with clouds engulfing the summits and the look of rain on the way.


But we have safe, dry, cozy lodging awaiting us.


And of course the typically fantastic Italian cooking to look forward to!


The next morning dawns wet and grey; it rained all night. The runners keep cycling through, some of them looking a bit discouraged but carrying gamely on.


We look back at our last glimpse of blue before the storm hits in earnest.


This was the last shot Kathy got before her camera got so wet it quit working altogether! After a couple of hours in a Rifugio waiting to see if the rain would taper off, it just got worse and windier. We sprinted over the Col de la Seigne, into Switzerland and down to safety at Ferret, soaked to the skin. Fortunately another warm and welcoming hotel awaited us at Champex.


Karl's T-shirt sums it up!


Our next day dawned clear and warm. We hiked up above treeline to a little restaurant in an old barn, surrounded by cows, aptly named Bovine. A popular spot for lunch.


The setting is spectacular, high above the upper Rhone valley and the town of Martigny.


From this rustic and tiny kitchen, they feed dozens of people quickly and efficiently.


And manage to turn out one of the best röstis I've had anywhere!


After lunch we continued our walk with the long descent into the village of Trient.


Our next-to-last day dawned hot and sunny once more. Heading out of Trient we climbed the ridge to Chatogne.


Cresting the ridge, we got to see a shepherd and his dogs at work moving their flock to newer pastures.


Over the next ridge, we are in sight once more of the Chamonix valley and the Mont Blanc massif!


A quick lunch at this place on the Col de Balme gave us the strength for the long descent to the town of Argentière.


Our last day! We ride a lift up into the Aiguilles Rouges.


Gaining the ridge once more involved some effort!


Beautiful blue lakes on the back side.


Mont Blanc again on the front side.


Watching the paragliders take off near the Brévent.


And another beautifully situated restaurant for lunch.




Our long walk in the mountains has come to an end, and it's time to say goodbye. Thanks to the crew for a wonderful week!

Your Comments - more info
comments powered by Disqus