All posts tagged: TMB

Chamonix, rest and reflection…and dinner!

We’ll, we’ve finished our circumnavigation of the Mont Blanc massif, the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) and what a wonderful time we have all had, scrambling up hill then back down dale, all the while following that gliding, cat like navigator, Ismael. As a group we were very well prepared, having trained hard on the massive mountain ranges around the Mornington Peninsula(!), but it was still a tough challenge, abate with a stunning backdrop to gaze at while regaining breath and equilibrium. Here are a few reflections on the walk, and what may be required to do it in comfort, and fewer blisters! # You can’t train too much. No one ever failed from training hard, and you won’t have to worry about recovery each day. Also, train as much for going down hill as up. Down hills can be a killer on the knees, quads and hips. # Wear good comfortable boots. We saw folks wearing sneakers, and when it rains (and it will) sneakers get wet…and when they are wet guess what happens? …

Day 10 – Argentiere to Chamonix

(6 hours) Our last day, and a solid one to complete the TMB, with a climb of about 1100 metres up to Lac Blanc, then down to the chairlift and back to Chamonix. It was extremely humid, with thunderstorms predicted, making the climb all the more difficult with plenty of breaks to mop the brow! Once again the views prevailed the pain. On top of the world, sort of! The first lake was an oasis of calm, with wonderful reflections. And a photo opportunity or two… Then some iron ladders and wooden steps up to the refuge and Lac Blanc. No more climbing, it’s all downhill from here. Maddy, the inspiration for this trip, and an inspiration herself, looks very happy to be here. Tony got a new phone before this trip and has almost blown it up taking photos. Down we go towards the gondola ride to the valley. We were lucky, the predicted thunderstorms didn’t eventuate. After the gondola, a lovely, lazy 20 minute stroll along the river back to Chamonix. …then, a …

Day Nine – Triente – Argentiere

( 6 hours – 18kms) Once again our group promptly hit breakfast at 7.30 sharp, followed by the 8.30 bus to our starting point of Triente, snuggled down in the valley with ominous mountain ranges surrounding us on three sides. The weather in the valley was cool but we are expecting hot and humid conditions all day with the threat of thunderstorms and foul weather forecast for tomorrow. With this in mind there is a real chance that we may have to abandon our walk a day early, so all were very keen and excited to be hitting the track. Said track went straight up, switchback after switchback, cool breeze turning into a humid swamp, turning a rough enough climb into a sweat box challenge. Regular short breaks to mop down, before finally reaching the Col de Balme at 2191 metres, and the border between Switzerland and France. More Aussie border excitement, lots of photos, spectacular views and a lovely cooling breeze. Maybe a selfie? A leap of faith… Finally, a leisurely walk to our …

Day Eight – Champex-Lac to Col De La Forclaz

(6 hours – 18kms) Well, Hotel Spendide was just that, comfy beds, lovely meals and stupendous balcony views; we could have stayed for ever…but the trail waits for no man, or woman! The weather was fine and quite warm as we stroll around the lake, trout safely resting from vigilant fisher persons Through the forest lanes till encountering the obligatory hill to our beautiful lunch spot looking down on the Rhône Valley. We haven’t got tired of the luncheon views, that’s for sure. Another corner, another outrageous vista! Fuel for winter Morning tea! 45 minutes digesting baguettes and views, then downhill to our finish point today at Col De La Forclaz, which would normally be our pit stop for the night at the roadside refuge, but our number is too large, so we are being bussed down to the large town of Martigny, which nestles in the heart of the Swiss Rhône Valley. Martigny if famous for its local wines, the vines of which cling precariously to the side of the steep hills, winding roads …

Day Seven – La Fouly – Champex-Lac

(4 hours – 14kms) Today is the shortest walk of the tour, only 4 hours, mainly following the valley, with a short sharp 450 metre climb to our hotel next to Champex Lac. Breakfast in the boarding house dining room, a team photo on the hotel steps and off at precisely 8.19! We are nothing if not prompt! Ismael has never seen such attention to detail. All jokes aside, the Hotel was really good, serving up a different experience to what we have experienced to date, and very comfortable and accommodating. Shrugging off the ghosts of boarding houses passed, we strolled down the valley, setting a leisurely pace as we have become accustomed to the gentle cadence of the days walk, following our gliding guide, Ismael. Through Swiss villages featuring brillant wooden doors, and wonderful shutters framed with flower boxes flowing with red geraniums. Probably the highlight was the gnome garden, which from all accounts has being growing year by year. More pine forest wandering, then up the hill to Champex-Lac, and our wonderful accommodation, …

Day Six – Val Ferret – La Fouly

(6 hours – 20kms) We finally leave the Hotel Crampon this morning after three lovely nights with tremendous hosts. The highlight of breakfast was Leeanne’s statement that she was contemplating an AFD (Alcohol Free Day) today! Once the giggles stopped we settled back to our breakfast of fruit, muesli & croissants. After yesterdays shambles with the bus, Ismael organised a mini bus transfer back to the same starting point. Tick! Our route today takes us slowly up the valley and onto the ridge which climbs gradually, and consistently, up towards the saddle which marks, invisibly, the border between Italy and Switzerland. Once again, excited Australians straddling the two countries for a photo opportunity. Ismael then took us into Switzerland and up the top of a nearby hill which offered great views down the valley to our nights destination, la Fouly. After another photo opportunity, Ismael noticed the crowd of walkers strolling down towards our lunch stop at a small farm, and declared a state of emergency. We needed to hoof it down the hill, passing …

Day Five – Val Ferret back to Courmayeur

(7 hours…20kms) Today has a slightly different format as we are catching the bus up the valley to the Val Ferret, and walking back to Courmayeur. The bus ride itself was crazy, Italian style, with demand outstripping supply by a factor of about three! It’s a narrow windy road up to the Val Ferret stop so the bus isn’t big, but that didn’t deter about 80 people cramming into it, the driver pushing everyone further down the back. Talk about stacks on! Plus it was a stopping all stations, as the driver willed more passengers on, sardine style. We were pretty happy to get to the pit stop and rediscover limbs seemingly crushed by the weight of humanity!! And what a day it turns out to be! The views before us are breathtaking! Ismael stated that this was his most favourite day of the walk because of the stupendous views which astound at every turn. About an hour of meandering uphill, surprisingly not too taxing, especially after the shenanigans of the previous night! The rest …