Tour du Mont Blanc September 9-18, 2021

 

A long-postponed trip, first planned before Covid up-ended everyone's lives, finally came to be! Present were John Lashbrook, Barbara Hermann, Jeff and Nancy Ray, with Kathy.

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Our first day, from above Les Houches to Contamines Montjoie, featured more downhill than up, testing our knees!

 

At the top of our final climb of the day, we are ready for our happy hour!

 

The cozy Hotel Gai Soleil, our port in the storm.

 

Day 2, we begin at the beautiful chapel of Notre Dame de la Gorge.

 

Creative wood-stacking graces the farm buildings along our road.

 

No views at the Col du Bonhomme! But at least the rain held off for a couple more hours!

 

The next morning dawns clear and calm as we prepare to set out on our day 3.

 

Leaving our mountain hut behind.

 

We climbed for the better part of an hour, to the Col des Fours. Mont Blanc comes into view on the left.

 

And it's another long descent through pastures and rocky slopes.

 

We are now deep in cow country, in the land of the famous Beaufort cheese. The herds and the sound of their bells follow us high up the mountains.

 

At last we reach our high point, and our passage into Italy, the Col de la Seigne.

 

Followed by a long descent into the Val Veni, as the breeze turns biting even in the autumn sunshine.

 

Our lodging for the night comes into view (No, not in the foreground! Back right!).

 

On the brand new terrace of the Elisabetta hut, we relax after a long day's walk.

 

Great views from the new dining room too.

 

A beautiful morning dawns for our day 4.

 

Seeing the "serious" side of Mont Blanc, steep and rocky, the summit hiding in clouds.

 

Looking up the massive, rubble-strewn Miage glacier toward Mont Blanc.

 

Around every corner a new glimpse through shifting fair weather cumulus clouds.

 

Another view, and a warning!

 

The empty plate club. Apparently Kathy was too hungry to take a photo BEFORE she ate her lunch!

 

We took a rest day in Courmayeur, at a very welcoming and comfortable family - run hotel, whose owners are fans of creative wood carving by local artists!

 

All too soon, it was time to put our walking shoes back on. Climbing quickly out above Courmayeur, we are rewarded with views back up the Val Veni, and over the Mont Blanc tunnel complex, far below.

 

The high mountains were hiding in the gathering storm clouds, but the views were still impressive from the terrace of the Bonatti hut.

 

Our day 5, as forecast, was wet and gloomy from the start. Hard to leave a warm, dry hut behind!

 

Serious rain gear is called for as we begin our climb out of the Val Ferret and toward the Swiss border.

 

The Col Ferret, and it's into Switzerland! In the most unwelcoming of weather!

 

Kathy testing out a slightly different rainwear strategy. Review: mixed.

 

Truly wet by now, we are glad to be descending on the last leg toward a warm dry hotel and bed in La Fouly.

 

Leaving La Fouly on day ... I've lost count! The livestock is exotic. Sodden yaks take our passage in stoic stride, though we are quite impressed to see them here.

 

Passing through the next few villages, it seems the locals are creative!

 

Beautifully preserved chalets line our path.

 

Skipping ahead quite a bit, the weather did not cooperate for photos of our stay in Champex Lac nor the following day's hike into Trient. But here we are leaving Trient, on our final day of hiking. The weather once more promising for our passage back into France from Switzeerland. Trient's famous "Pepto-Bismol" church with the glaciated peaks behind.

 

Another long climb rewards us with sunshine and panoramic views as we leave Switzerland behind.

 

We made it! We're back in sight of Mont Blanc, and heading down the last stretch.

 

But first, a welcome lunch in the sunshine, with a fabulous view.

 

One last climb, over the ridge of the Posettes, to savor the beautiful weather while it lasts.

 

And it's farewell and the end of a long, eventful journey through the mountains with good friends, and good cheer through the good weather and bad, the challenges and the satisfaction; and always beauty. Thank you Barbara, Nancy, Jeff and John, for an unforgettable time together!



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