tour de mont blanc mountain huts

5 Lessons I Learned Running the 100-Mile Tour de Mont Blanc “It‘s incredible what you can accomplish ... in the company of amazing people.” By Kristin Armstrong Monday, July 24, 2017, 11:43 am Photograph courtesy of Kristin Armstrong

I have been reticent to even sit down at my desk and put this experience into words. Normally this is the first thing I want to do when anything happens. Not this time however. This time I have wanted to take my time, soaking the experience and the lessons into my bones before I attempted to share it.

I just spent a week in the Alps, running around Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland with 16 beloved friends.

I thought this would be a great trip, a chance to speak French again, and a physical push to run around the base of a mountain. I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the effort or the experience when I agreed to go, or when I got on the plane, or even when I put my pack on and set off.

Photograph courtesy of Kristin Armstrong

As it turns out, we weren’t really taking a leisurely lap around the base of a mountain. Instead, we were running up and down peaks surrounding the highest peak in Europe: Mont Blanc. It was over 100 miles of climbing, descending, crossing streams and suspension bridges, using cables and even ladders. Training in Austin did not prepare me at all for the altitude, the climbing, the descents, or the terrain.

And yet, it’s incredible what you can accomplish with good attitude and gratitude in the company of amazing people.

We ran for six days, ranging in mileage from 14 to over 20 miles per day. But this does not really equate to the time that the terrain warranted, some days we ran and hiked for over 9 hours. Each day two or three people were designated leaders, so we had reconnaissance meetings after dinner each night and the crew in charge of the next day would explain routes, predicted elevation and feet of climbing, availability of water and nutrition, and expected weather. We stayed in simple hotels and little mountain huts called  rifugios , rinsing our clothing out at night and hoping it was dry enough in the morning.

Instead of reminiscing over our adventure with a day-by-day account, I’m going to stick more to my nature and create a list of lessons learned instead. 

RELATED: Meet the Man Who Ran 7 Ultras on 7 Continents to Raise Money for 7 Schools

  Photograph courtesy of Kristin Armstrong I Am Stronger Than I Ever Imagined

This was my biggest takeaway and I imagine my fellow ultrarunners would say the same about themselves and each other.

I will never forget trudging straight uphill (and I mean straight uphill ) for hours with my trekking poles—step, poke, step, poke—and listening to the sound of my wheezing breath, stopping to wipe my sweat or runny nose on the Buff wrapped around my wrist. Suddenly someone would come out with a joke, a most-embarrassing story, or belt out an old high school fight song (“I’m a beaver, you’re a beaver, we are beavers ALL….”) and we would all crack up and time would pass and effort would evaporate.

The collective energy of a group is incredibly powerful. On a particularly steep climb, Jamie, Katie and I distracted ourselves by playing a little alphabet word game. Taking turns shouting out words to describe us. Ready, Go: A is for Awesome. B is for Badass. C is for courageous…

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  Photograph courtesy of Kristin Armstrong We Have to Break to Build

We created a whole rating system for our accommodations, spending copious time discussing the humorous aspects of our previous night’s stay. One particular night bonded us for life. We refer to it as “what broke us.”

I won’t name the place because one Italian girl who worked there was very nice. So it’s the end of a long ass day. I mean long: Nine and a half hours of running. We are getting close to our rifugio when the storm starts coming. Temperatures are plummeting as fast as our moods, the wind is whipping across the mountain, and it’s starting to rain. We still have at least a half-mile straight uphill to get there. All I could think about was a hot shower, food and a glass of wine.

We got there and it was jam packed with weary hikers from all over the world, humming with different languages and odd smells—especially in the reeking “shoe room.”

I got in line for the shower, and pieced together enough conversations of the people in front of me to finally understand that there was no hot water. So we took a glacier-cold shower (I stood in the water for two seconds, screaming obscenities just to survive) and dried off with our tiny chamois travel hand towels and pulled on our hut clothes over ice cold damp skin, shivering. We slept 13 people in a bed, in sleep sacks with a thin mattress over wooden planks.

Our rained on, sweaty clothes would never dry if we washed them so we hung them up like stinky sachets on the clothesline across our bunk. Across the room were 15 more strangers sleeping together, snoring and tooting. Jamie was so tired she used a dirty sock as an eye mask. We got the giggles so bad no one could sleep.

Photograph courtesy of Kristin Armstrong

The thing is. We did have fun. Later we determined this was the place that broke us, and we had to break down in order to build back up. We will never take a hot bath, a large fluffy towel, a clean pillow, or a good night sleep for granted again. Little luxuries.

Photograph courtesy of Kristin Armstrong We Need Less Than We Think

We each had one 15L pack for six days of stuff, with all of our items squished into compression sacks in order to fit it all in: Long sleeve shirt, hiking poles, cozy thermal hut clothes, flip flops, underwear, extra sports bras, socks, sunscreen, toothbrush, toothpaste, phone, charger with adaptor, rain jacket, gloves, beanie, passport, money, ohuhnpng. mont blanc pen price list in uaefood, two soft water bottles, and chapstick.

I felt odd at first, with all my necessities on my back—like I was forgetting something. After about a day I felt liberated. My pack started to chafe my pokey collarbone. Jamie had the brilliant idea to use a Lulu bra pad as a shoulder pad, so we channeled our 1980’s fashion mojo and rocked that pack.

In the photo above you can see us showing off, doing forearm planks wearing our packs.

Photograph courtesy of Kristin Armstrong F Is for Facing Fear

Okay so day 6 I met my demons. They came in the form of ladders.

Let’s be clear—I do not like heights . I do not even like to use a ladder to change a ceiling bulb or put the star on the Christmas tree in my own house. I especially do not like iron ladders drilled into rock cliffs that I have to scale using wobbly legs and pole-weary palms, with a pack on my back to throw off my balance ever further. I was praying and shaking and looking only at the rung in front of me. Thankfully I did not have a panic attack. I almost cried with relief when I got to the top.

The lesson for me: When an obstacle or situation comes up that flares my fear, there is no turning back and no other way. Breathe. Focus. Do the next thing. Then the next thing after that. Courage, like sweat, is made in the moment you get to work.

RELATED: Here’s Why One of My Favorite Words Is “Grit”

    Photograph courtesy of Kristin Armstrong Sharing an Experience Makes It Real

Having people to sweat with, laugh with, tell stories, take photos, commiserate, and triumph with makes it a real experience. The sharing of it authenticates it for me.

Like designated drivers, we all took a turn carrying each other safely to the next destination. This may come in the form of sharing food, salt pills, ibuprofen, sunscreen, or water. This may mean having a smile when someone else is cracking. This may mean another set of eyes on the map, helping to navigate. This may mean helping get poles out of your pack, or stopping with you while you pee or put on a rain jacket. Or helping you up when you fall. Or enduring a sleepless night in a shared bed. Or buying you laxatives in a foreign pharmacy after you have eaten your weight in cheese.

Ultimately, surrounding yourself with incredibly strong people makes you stronger. Having the right people to share the journey, especially the beer and French fries at the end of a long day, is absolutely everything. It’s a rare gift to find a group of friends who agrees on the concept of earned pleasure, whether it’s a view, a meal, a well-deserved rest, or a cold glass of rosé.

Thank you to my 16 fellow ultrarunners for sharing these sacred days on the mountain with me. Thank you, Terra and Chris for all your planning, advice and encouragement. Hopefully we all picked up some essential lessons and beautiful memories—and left behind some things out there that we no longer need to carry around. I miss you, beavers all, already. Until next time.

 

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pens scoreboard August 2010 Fr-It-Sui: Tour Mont Blanc in 9 days

Enjoying a walk around the Mont Blanc: horizontal 150 km, vertical 19 km going up and down.

29.07.2010 - 08.08.2010 24 °C View Tour Mont Blanc August 2010 & Alaska 19 June - 18 July 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Our Tour Mont Blanc

The Tour the Mont Blanc

Georgia wanted to hike the Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB) and was looking for a guide. I was very happy to serve as one and so we took off together to hike around the Mont Blanc where you are actually not really seeing the Mont Blanc that often ;-). It is a very varied hike in which you pass many valleys, cols and are being spoilt with many glaciers. Within Europe I have never seen so many glaciers together which was really nice. Since we were not sure if we would find accommodation (we did not reserve) and it was mentioned everywhere that you had to make bookings if you were going in August, we took my tent. It was really nice camping and in general the mountain huts let you put your tent next to the hut (except in Italy where it is forbidden by law below 2500m), but it would have been absolutely unnecessary since everywhere there were still beds available. However, it gave us the choice to avoid very cramped dortoirs. As I had to take my computer as well for some work I ended up carrying ca 16-18 kg. If you would have to do a part of the Tour Mont Blanc, we absolutely loved the 2nd and 3rd day (the south part and southeast part of the TMB. Also the last day was very beautiful where we had the full day the view of the Mont Blanc.

Since we were going through three countries (France, Italy and Switzerland) I was already looking forward to exercise my French, Italian and German. However, basically anyone is saying 'bonjour' along the TMB. In Italy (Valle d'Aosta) they speak French as second language and in the Swiss part they speak French as a first language. It is funny to notice that as soon as you have a slight accent, most people swap to English which would definitely not have been the case 20 years ago. The food is however immediately italian in italy (polenta) and as soon as you are in Italy you can order a capuccino, which is not a success if you try to do so in France. The savoie flag is very much similar to the Swiss flag. People feel much more acquinted with their mountain region than with the central government. In the French part you hear mostly complaints ("in the Italian and Swiss part the roads are great because they are dealt with regionally/locally, but in the French part it is all neglected because the 'bobo's' from Paris come only in winter to ski and do not care about good roads in summer"). It was nice to come across a cross-border project funded by the INTERREG programme of which I am expert. It was a bit funny though to find this very new and well kept building with an exhibition on the Mont Blanc after having hiked up the mountain. Not really what you expect in the middle of nowhere...

Below a description day by day with some of our experiences

Day 1 : Friday 30 July 2010. Hiking 5h15, +700m, -1310m, total 2010m, ca 15km. Good weather. First glaciers.

Train Lyon - Les Houches: A very friendly conductor sold us a ticket since the machine could not sell us the ticket due to the fact that according the time plan we would have to change trains 3 times which is too complicated for the machine (!) and as the train was leaving within 10 minutes: long live the machines 'a la con' Les Houches (950m): Supermarket and télépherique Bellevue (nice start… ) Bellevue (1786m): Lunch in the sun (even better start ). Quite urban through also a tram going up next to the glacier to 2372m. Col de Tricot (2120m): Surrounded by glaciers (Glacier de Bionnassay, Glacier de Miage, Glacier de Covagnet). Steep descend where we met a girl who was afraid of height… Chalets de Miage (1559m): Very good 'tarte aux myrtilles & framboises' Chalets du Truc (1720m): The chalet looked very nice. Is next to Mont Truc (hihi), which apparently means round mountain Les Contamines (1150m): Almost there…. but not yet, endless road Le Pontet (1190m): Very nice camping with very nice hosts, good cheese and closed restaurants. Great picknick. Quickly we were surrounded by Alicia (from Indiana, USA) and Zofar (Pakistan) and 2 exhausted Polish girls. Next morning we woke up in a soaked tent due to the heavy condensation in the Alpes. As the sun peaked over the mountains rather soon, we could leave though with a dry tent.

these cute 'houses' you see everywhere

Glacier de Bionassey and Glacier de Miage

Col de Tricot (2120m) and view from it

the start of our trip, still smiling...

lots of flowers

flowers

flowersss

Chalets de Truc with some strange effects...

Great tarte aux myrtille, soaked tent!!! + condensation and nice slow breakfast

Day 2 : Saturday 31 July. Hiking 6h48, +1610m, -910m, total 2520m, ca 20km. Great weather, very sunny: great and stunning scenery

Le Pontet (1190m): We took a slow breakfast. Georgia became good friends with her futur mari Jean-Claude Notre dame de la gorge (1210m): We met again the two Polish girls, busy with taping knees and treating blisters. Chalet-refuge du Nant-Borrant (1460m): Nice view Le Balme (1706m): We had a great picknick enjoying ourselves with looking at the people suffering while climbing. Most were happy to stop and chat with us, especially speedy gonzales (who was running up and down (!!), well, mostly downwards actually, and who likes funny accents from Dutch girls). There is actually a competition in which they are running the Tour Mont Blanc... 20 hours seems to be the record for 150 km going up and down 18 700m... amazing.

Today was also the first time that we could use MJs toy: the UV water filter: worked great!!!.

Col du Bonhomme (2329m): We met a japanese group with two local guides who seemed impressed by their speed since they were not too young (oldest was almost 80). Georgia knew 'sajonara', but we had no idea what it meant. They seemed happy though when we said it. Lateron we learnt that it meant 'goodbye' Col de le Croix du Bonhomme (2483m): Super view at 'La Grande Casse' (covered with snow), Crete de Gittes and Roches Merles, with river meandering. Col des Fours (2665m): Absolute great and stunning variant which goes past orange coloured rocks, goes through (old) snow and continues to have a stunning view. MJ continued with her hobby: collecting rocks (very handy when you are trying to travel lightweight). La Ville des Glaciers (1789m): MJ is happy chappy since it is a 'route' and not a 'path' which meant that it is not as well kept as a path and more difficult. We saw a 'steinbock' (chamoix) at the very top of the mountain. Lateron, on the 8th and 9th day we saw many more. MJ got the crazy idea to do another variant which luckily we did not do (would have been many more hours and another 1500m difference). The descent was great. there was a very impressive riverbed where the curves in the stone followed the river. At another point we turned around and saw a beautiful waterfall. At ville des Glaciers the path had been largely hidden due to the work of the farmers Refuge Les Mottets (1870m) Almost there… friendly hosts who were willing to feed us and let us put up our tent next to a ruin in between cow shit (slept perfect! Very soft). We also discovered that after a very nice and nourishing soup that there were still three more courses to go... (goooood food). Great view at the Dome de Miage (3672m).

Notre Dame de la Gorge: baroque style

Nice weather, nice views, nice lunch.... mmmmh

flowers

At the right is the Mont Tondu

view south from the col the Bonhomme. Some beautiful mountain formations

Col de Bonhomme (2329m) and view from the col

Col de four! with the beautiful colours (2665m), coming from les contamines montjoie (1150m)

Georgia getting down from the col de Fours: this was a 'route' and not a 'path'. Really not that much difference: just a bit steeper

the structure of the rock carved by the water, us at the col de bonhomme (2329m)

Amazing geological structure with the help of water

stooonnnnees

Dome de Miage, and our hike down from Col de Four (from 1150 to 2665m to 1870m)

View from the col de Fours

Every evening we are being welcomed by the cows and here with the Dome de Miage behind... nice....

Day 3 Sunday 1 August. Hiking 6h15, +1265m, -1180m, total 2445m, ca 18km. Great weather, very sunny and hot. We saw many marmottes and absolutely stunning scenery

Refuge les mottets (1870m): Together with Jill (from Colorado) we had a nice slow start. The Dutch lady left very early (why do they say that we leave late?? We leave relaxed, they leave very early…) Col de la Seigne (2516m): French - Italian border where we saw the Mont Blanc (4808m) in its glory. Alpe inferieure de la Lée-Blanche (2035m): To be able to reach the mountain hut Elisabetta you have to climb up from some ruins of buildings. Refuge Elisabetta (2200m): Great lunch (italian food!!!) with polenta. Enjoying the sun and italian language around us. Jill stayed there and enjoyed the view at the Glacer de la Lée-Blanche. Lac Combal (1975m): Nice wetlands, while we were drewling over the view of all the glaciers: Glacier du Miage (with the two beautiful little lakes at the bottom and the jardin de miage), Glacier du Brouillard, Glacier de Freney Arp-Vieille supérieure (2303m): Nice big group of cows, watched over by a man who was probably wondering why we are doing this hike (we were wondering too…). We were melting in the sun and very happy with the little river Maison Vieille, Col Checrouit (1956m): Received by friendly staff. Since in Italy you are not allowed to camp below 2500m (outside a camping) we took a cute room, had a great meal (mjummie dulce) and discussed my watch with the owner (marie-jose, thats the name of a princess, isn't it... ah those Italian charmeurs...). Rain and thunder in the evening.

Having a relaxed start from Refuge des Mottets, going up to Col de la Seigne - view at Mont Blanc!! (going that day from 1870m to 2516m to 1900m to 2400m to 1900m)

Panorama to the south. We came from the Col de Fours which is in the middle of the picture

Glacier du Miage

Some prayers before you have to hike uphill to get some lunch from Refuge Elisabetta with Glacier de la Lee Blanche in the background

View from refuge Elisabetta

People enjoying themselves at some remains of snow

Lac de Combal

Glacier du Miage with the Jardin du Miage (the two green longs at the bottom)

Some are doing the Tour Mont Blanc by mountain bike which becomes often a mountain hike...

Lac Combal

on the road to Maison Vieille

Glacier de Miage with lac de Miage

Do cows actually know stress?

Enjoying life and pasta in Italy: Courmayeur: not a bad place to live.... dream on MJ

Day 4 Monday 2 August. Hiking 5h15, +1045m, -561m, total 1606m, ca 17km. Clouds+sun, lateron some rumbling thunder

Maison Vieille (1956m): The Spanish couple asked several times where we would go, and each time we did not know… We started by walking down first part and taking the télépherique in the second part (1 télépherique par jour, ca suffit!) Courmayeur (1226m): After walking up and down town twice we found internet so MJ could check work. Loooong break for Georgia who occupied herself with observing people from the bar. After a nice but not very substantial icecream we headed up in the mountains again, soon being very hungry. Refuge Bertone (1989m): Nothing special so we continued to pass the Carrefour de sentiers (2125m) La Lèche (1929m): It started raining a bit which was ok. However, the approaching thunder worried a bit. Refuge Bonatti (2025m) The best refuge ever (in the Alpes at least): beautiful, good food, great pleasant dorms, showers, drying room. Just perfect. And as a finishing touch: slippers with a nice alpine flower decoration… In our room we met Irish pride: 2 women who were planning to hike 11 hours the next day as busses were not an option... chapeau! The watch appeared again to be the jewel of the evening and got again a lot of attention, this time from a lovely Japanese couple who were travelling on their own through the alpes. The staff was also very friendly to let MJ work with her headlight in the dining room when everyone was sleeping already.

morning view from La Maison Vieille (we are in Italy but the refuge has a french name...)

Artist impression from Georgia :-)

The start of the Mont Blanc tunnel (later we saw the other end... that is.. a few days later) with the pointy Mount Chétif (2343m) and the rocky end of the Glacier de la Brenva

On the way to refuge Bonatti

purple flowers

wauw

Diner in the most wonderful mountain hut: refuge Bonatti with pictures of his trips and great footwear

Day 5 Tuesday 3 August. Hiking 5h20, +961m, -1308m, total 2269m, ca 17km. Clouds+sun, nice views

Refuge Bonatti (2025m): Our roommates had breakfast at 7. We slept 'late' and had breakfast at 8.00. Since apparently the weather was a bit cold and windy, everyone left in the end around 9.30. Again proof that getting up early does not help… Arp-nouva Desot (1776m): Georgia and I had a nice walking stick fight Refuge Elena (2054m): Nice and warm with nice hot chocolate and super dry sandwiches. All the italians waited for lunch time at 12.30 when suddenly the restaurant filled up very quickly. They were still in worldcup atmosphere as they were selling orange t-shirts… to italians… Grand col Ferret (2537m): Great view of glacier pre de bar and glacier de triolet. The col was as a col in general is: nice but COLD. At the col we left Italy with its nice food and entered a very green Switzerland. La Peule (2071m): Great yourtes (sleeping in hay in a big round tent), nice beer and apple pie Ferret (1705m): We crossed an invasion of 50 cows being looked at by many tourists. We amused ourselves with looking at a group of 12 French people who managed to discuss for 20 minutes about how to hang up the socks and t-shirts in the window. Just like watching television: not that interesting but still amusing. Champex-lac (1460m): Since we walk the Tour Mont Blanc in 9 days we took a bus from Ferret to Champex. You would have to walk with a view at the road anyway. We were looking for the Irish ladies but did not find them. We stayed at the camping and were looking forward to some nice raclette. Instead we ended up with a not very special croute de fromage and not a very special tarte aux myritlles (did they use marmelade?). MJ found a plug for her computer though so she could comment on a report until all the lights went out in the village (22.00 oh yeah).

This represents perfectly the start of the day: it seemed rainy but actually it was really nice!!

Rainbow while most people are waiting for the weather to clear which was really not that bad at all! (I guess you must be Dutch not to mind rain and wind too much...)

Val Ferret looking back to where we have come from: one of the mountains in the back at the right side

view coming from the wonderful refuge Bonatti towards the valley that we are walking into: at the left Mount Gruetta

the 'beautiful' glasses in which we got our fendant, italian charming capuccino and strange housing in Trient...

The hike up to theGrand col ferret (from 1700 to 2537m)

At the left the Glacier de Triolet and at the right the Glacier de Pre de Bar divided by the Monts rouges de Triolet. At the left side the Mont Gruetta

Mount Gruetta and the Ferret Valley

From the Grand Col ferret (2537) to Ferret (1700m). See the yourts, MJ collecting stones

The impressive Mont Gruetta which is holding the small Glacier du Gruetta with at the right the Glacier de Triolet

on the walk to ferret there were many many blue 'kevers'.

Greeeeen

Georgia's patience with butterflies with some amazing results!

Day 6 Wednesday 4 August. Hiking 6h45, +1207m, -1365m, total 2572m, ca 17.5km. Great weather, great nice view at glacier du Trient + lake d'Emosson

Champex-lac (1460m): Great breakfast at the boulangerie: mmmmmh: tarte aux framboises et myrtilles. Luckily we went first to the supermarket otherwise we would have bought everything from the boulangerie. Meanwhile our soaked tent could dry. The alpes have a lot of condensation so take a tent that is fit for it (maybe not MSR Carbon Reflex 3p, grmbl). Fenetre d'Arpette (2671m): Steep, great, nice climb over rocks. Great picknick lunch which gave some rest to tired knees. Steep but not difficult descent with a stunning view at the glacier du Trient. You are actually walking down next to the glacier, which continues to impress each time. Meanwhile you have a great view at a lake opposite of the valley and with some nice rock piles at your right the picture is just perfect. Chalet du Glacier (1583m): We were looking forward to a nice ice cream at the unfortunately already very closed chalet du glacier… Peuty (1326m): This 'petit'/peuty (as georgia says) village lives from timber lugging, so the gite d'etape was of course of wood. We decided to search for a place with nice food so continued to Trient. Trient (1297m): When we saw the charmless dining room of Relais du Mont Blanc we left and ended up in Gite de Gardienne. Great place if you like dominant hosts. They friendly but firmly insisted that we drank a glass of fendant with them before being able to take a shower (so we were smelling verrryyy nice....). The fendant was great and the glasses with the miniature animals inside (!) were just completing the picture. As we arrived late we missed a special dinner experience in the kitchen of our host where the discussion was lead by the host. Instead we had a very nice diner at cafe Moret.

The Pierriers d'Arpette: kind of stone lawines from the Aiguilles d'Arpette with the tiny Glacier d'Arpette peaking out

That's where we are going! Fenetre d'Arpette (2665m). Nice knee bending exercise going up 1200m over rocks: nice & steep

views from fenetre d'arpette

Going to, being at, and going down from Fenetre d'Arpette

Going up to the Fenetre d'Arpette: 2665m: going up, going up

View from fenetre d'Arpette: we are going down, down into the valley

Plateau du Trient with Aiguille du Tour peaking in the back

View from Fenetre d'Arpette with Lac d'emosson and the rough rock formations from the Arete de la Lys at the right hand

Glacier du Trient

Glacier du Trient

Close up of the crevasses of the Glacier du Trient, mmmh, nice for ice climbing??

Glacier du Trient from the valley from the closed chalet

flowers

Trient and Le Tour

Day 7 Thursday 5 August. Hiking 2h30, +870m, -50m, total 920m, ca 7km. Rain, rain, rain and in the end a resting day

Trient (1297m): As it was lousy weather we started with writing this trip down and had a nice morning at the café Moret. When leaving we got some abricots from a nice lady who wished us luck. We would need it… Refuge Col de Balme (2191m): Very rainy ascent. Famous unfriendly reception (Georgia: "quelle caricature") Lady: "leave those bags OUTSIDE" (although it was raining hard…). One guy: "Bonjour Madame, vous allez bien?" (Good afternoon, how are you doing). The lady: "pourquoi, est-ce que ca n'a pas l'air d'aller???" (=why do you ask, does it not look like it..."). We saw at least 6 people come inside and leave immediately.... However, we might have managed to get a glimpse of a smile from her... (oh yeah...) Le Tour (1463m): One advise: NEVER, but NEVER take the télésiège when it is raining hard and windy. But really NEVER!!!!!! My raining pants appeared to be leaking like hell at certain private parts. I think that the 10 minute ride down was equivalent to 8 hours of hiking in pooring rain. We ended up down soaking wet, cold, freezing and as poor little kittens. The hotel Olympique next to the télécabine proofed to be a very pleasant, comforting heaven for us poor city women...

Rain, Rain, Rain from Trient to Col de Balme with this very nice, oh so nice (not really) landlady

rain clouds hovering over the mountains

Georgia after our télésiège down in rain & wind: BAD idea!!! We were soaked!

From our super cool window in our cute room we could take stock of the weather: visibility 'nul','mieux','pire','on s'en fou'

Day 8 Friday 6 August. Hiking 4h30, +1162m, -754m, total 1916m, ca 11km. Nice weather, sunny+some clouds. Nice view at Mont Blanc Chain

Le Tour (1463m): Hotel Olympique was great and we learnt quite a bit about French politics Tré le Champ (1417m): We passed a very cute looking auberge de la Baine. Lac Blanc (2352m): Going up, going up. When arriving at Lac Blanc we had the impression to have arrived in a city: very busy. However, very efficient and friendly service. Meanwhile the Mont Blanc disappeared in the clouds and reappeared. Chalet de la Flégère (1877m): Going down. Chalet de la Flégère was a nice place, very young but good hosts (18years??) and lots of laughter on Refuge col de balme. Met a nice British-America couple (she just moved to London) and a friendly French family who we passed the next day.

nice weather, joehee!!

view at chain Mont Blanc

After rain there is sunshine!! Nice hike to Lac Blanc (wasn't it Georgia :-) with lots of stairs: climbing 900m in one go...

Mont Blanc playing with the clouds or are the clouds playing with the Mont Blanc

Climbers heaven: aiguileete d'argentiere Echelles

Mer de Glace with Mont Blanc Chain

A group of Chamoix enjoying its view (you can only see one here)

Chamonix with a bit hidden Mont Blanc Chain and the Mer de Glace

Ok, a picture without the Mont Blanc, the other side: Aiguilles rouges with really purple rocks: nice! mirrorred in Lacs des Chéserys

View from Lac Blanc at Mer de Glace coming from the Glacier de Leschau ( & Glacier du Tacul which you cannot see)

The blue 'Lac Blanc' when there were one second a bit less people than the big masses

The 'Mer de Glace' (Ice sea) going down to Chamonix, ending in a tiny tiny lake. I would not like to live in that avalanche zone...

Day 9 Saturday 7 August. Hiking 4h30, +782m, -1681m, total 2463m, ca 19km. SUNNY - no clouds at all, All day view at Mt Blanc

Chalet de la Flégère (1877m): No single cloud! BLUE sky. PlanPraz (1999m): Encountered Georgia on the road Col de Brevent (2197m): Great view, nice garlic bread (for 10€). No drinking water so again my waterfilter proofed useful. Le Brevent (2500m): Rocks, again some nice iron stairs to climb, nice and steep! Les Houches (950m): Going down, down, down to catch the train of 14.57 (Georgia) Planpraz - Chamonix (1034m): Georgia had a cheeseless lunch after 9 days of cheese and 'enjoyed' city life of Chamonix Lyon (167m): Georgia spoiled me with a nice 'tarte aux myrtilles' and abricots AND some great Beaufort (mmmmh). Our delayed train ensured that we missed our connection, had to spend some time in Annemasse (zzzzh) had a 6hour travel instead of 4hours…. (zzzzh)

I guess they run out of names as these peaks got names such as 'Aig. de fou' (crazy mountain), dent du Caiman, dent du Crocodile, Aig. du Grepon, Aig. des Grds Charmoz, Aig .de la Republique (really!)

The mont blanc at the right, with left the black point: Aiguille du Midi (3800m): a telepherique goes there!

Glacier Bossons with the... Mont Blanc

In between chalet de la Flégère and Planpraz, with in the background the ... Mont Blanc

another view of the ... Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc reflected in Lac du Brevent

From Col du Brevent to Le Brevent you better are not afraid of height... nice and steep!

And what do we see here... maybe ... the Mont Blanc

The Tour Mont Blanc and the route we walked + where we stayed overnight

Total hiking 47h08, +9602m, -9119m, total 18 721m, ca 150 km

Posted by Marie-Jose 14:10 Archived in France Tagged backpacking

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Comments

That is a very good description of the walk I plan to do this summer. We actually plan to also do it in 9 days, apart from the bus you say you caught, did you do all the rest walking or were there any other parts you also skipped. Thanks for the info!!! (as you can see I am planning my trek well in advance!)

by Jesugo

Hi Jesugo, Yes, the rest we walked! have fun, it is a beautiful hike! mj

by Marie-Jose

Hey, Great blog! Did you need to pay for the camp spot if you were next to the hostels? Thanks

by AlexAkers

Hi Alex, Thanks so much. It was a few years ago and do not recall if we had to pay. If we had to I am sure it was not too much. sorry I cannot be of more help

by Marie-Jose

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the couvercle mountain hut, high in the mont blanc massif above Chamonix and the mer de glace glacier argentiere chamonix aiguille aiguille du triolet aiguilles du plan alpine alps cabin caf climbing courtes couvercle droites dusk evening glow golden hut ice lodge massif mer de glace mont blanc mountains panorama pointe des papillons pointe isabelle refuge republique serac shutters snow sports summer talefre triolet windows Show more Show less Categories: Buildings/Landmarks Similar images An alpine hut above glacier Pasterze, in the background the Grossglockner, Austria's highest mountain. 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Large sections of the summit and face (lighter color) have famously broken away recently. the Aiguille du Tour and the glacial plateau de Trient on the french swiss border of the Mont Blanc above Chamonix and Argentiere the couvercle mountain hut, high in the mont blanc massif above Chamonix and the mer de glace glacier the 'aiguilles de chamonix' or the chamonix needles, above the mer de glace in the french alps, viewed from above the leschaux glacier The mer de glace glacier as it comes down from the Mt Blanc, with the Dent du Geant and Grandes Jorasses in the centre background. 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