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Day 11 La Flégère - Les Houches

Distance: 17km

Start altitude: 1875m

High point: Le Brévent 2526m

Height gain: 772m

Height loss: 1546m

Weather: Sunny all day, no wind, some clouds surrounding the mountains.

 

Today I started the last leg of TMB. The weather was perfect and as this is maybe the stage that has the best views ot the whole trail I was excited to get going.

 

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I started the day with this view of the Mont Blanc range

 

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 I made a lot of stops this morning to enjoy the beuty surrounding me

 

Just before lunch i reached Col de Brévent. After the Col the trail changes character and becomes more of a scramble. You have to put your "batons" away and use your hans from time to time to get up som steep passages.

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Col du Brévent

 

 

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Follow the yellow dots

 

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This day also included some ladders to get you up some steep slabs

 

 

At lunch I stopped at the very popular and crowded top of  Le Brévent. This a lift accessible top and a popular starting point for a lot of climbs in the Aiguilles Rouges. It is also the best place to watch Mont Blanc.

 

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My view during lunch

 

After lunch it was time for a long decent towards Les Houches to reach the end of the trip. I started walking down from Le Brévent on a trail that I some years ago climbed with skis. Needless to say it was a lot less strenuous goin down.

 

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The trail leading down from Le Brévent

 

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Exposed at places

 

After a very long decent through the woods that never seemed to end I reached the village of Les Houches exactly 11 days after i started.

 

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Les Houches village sign

 

After reaching Les Houches i took the bus back to Chamonix for some well deserved rest days before returning to Sweden.

 

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Celebrating my accomplishment with some Saucisson Savoyard and Fromage Gruyère

 

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Fin!

 


Day 10 Tré-le-Champ - La Flégère

Distance: 8km

Start altitude: 1417m

High point: Tète aux Vents 2132m

Height gain: 733m

Height loss: 257m

Weather: Cloudy and a bit foggy in the morning. After lunch cloudy but with sun coming through throughout the day. Wind picked up later in the day.

Today I started my trek up Grand Balcon Sud and in to the Réserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges. On this part you hope for good weather both because the route is a bit exposed and you have the Mont Blanc range as a view all day. The start was a rather steep walk up through the woods to reach Aiguillette d'Argentiere.

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The monolithic Aiguillette d'Argentiere.

After admirering Aiguillette d'Argentiere it was time for the famous "passage délicat" a system of ladders and other artificial aids that's take you up some steep rock slabs to reach Tête aux Vents.

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The start of "passage délicat".

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On slightly lower angels there where this artificial aids.

After reachin Tête aux Vents I stopped for a breather and when i turned the corner to begin my walk again i met two Ibex not 5 metres away on the trail. I spent a few minutes looking at them grazing. Then we parted ways.

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Ibex 1.

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Ibex 2.?

Then I continued walking towards The Refuge on a nice windling trail.

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The trail leading to Refuge la Flégère.

The clouds surrounding the Mont Blanc gave way on occasion giving you a wonderful view of the range of mountains around Mont Blanc.

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Clouds breaking away revealing Mont Blanc range.

As there I no camping allowed in the Réserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges I spent the night at the Refuge la Flégère. It was nice to dry out some of my stuff from yesterdays rain. And I had a nice traditional Savoyard dinner with a lot of cheese and cold cuts.


Day 9 Col de la Forclaz - Tré-le-Champ

Distance: 13km

Start altitude: 1466m

High point: Aiguillette des Posettes 2201m

Height gain: 1069m

Height loss: 1178m

Weather: Cloudy in the morning. After lunch wind started to pick up and it rained througout the afternoon. Heavy overcast and rain in the evening. Thunderstorms during the night.

Today it's back to France by walking up to Col de Balme. As i have done some off-piste skiing from Col de Balme down to Switzerland it was intresting walking up the same way in the summer. I have also skinned this route with skis so I could compare the effort. It's easier in the summer. 

dag 9 bild 1.jpgThe track up to Col de Balme.

dag 9 bild 2.jpgHello France.?

I had lunch at the "charming" Refuge Du Col de Balme". It was was quite old school and i ate my omelette withe ham sitting in smoke from the burning stove in the middle of the room. It says in the guidebook that theres been som kind of border conflict which has led to the Refuge beeing burned down and rebuilt a couple of times. I'm not to sure it has been the reason. I could also have been the service...

dag 9 bild 3.jpgAs cloudy indoors as outdoors.

After the smokey lunch it was time to go up to Aiguettes de Posettes. This path is supposed to be very scenic but as i neared the top the rain and mist picked up and all I saw and concentrated on followinog was the track.

dag 9 bild 4.jpgThe track towards Aiguettes de Posettes.

dag 9 bild 5.jpgIt starts to rain. 

 



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And the fog moves in.

In the afternoon i made camp down in the Vallée de l'Arvein in a place called Les Frasserands. I walked down to Argentière to buy some food and revistit a place that I have visited a lot of times during the winter for skiing. The rain stopped in the evening but picked up during the the night accompanied with some thunder.

 


Day 8 Champex - Col de la Forclaz

Distance: 16km

Start altitude: 1466m

High point: Collet Portallo 2049m

Height gain: 742m

Height loss: 682m

Weather: Sunny all day, no wind.

The path in Switzerland continued through green hillsides, patches of forest and high alpine pastures. It's mostly farmland and you don't have the same high alpine feel thats present in the rest of the walk but charming non the less.

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Path cutting through the forest.

At lunch i stopped at Bovine that is a working dairyfarm but also offers refreshments for walkers of the TMB. I had a simple soupe du jour with some cheese and bread. 

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Soupe du jour.

dag 8 bild 3.jpgCow with some sort of nose attached scratcher.?

Ended my day by camping in Col de la Forclaz. I was short on food so i bought my breakfast in the only shop nearby which was a combined souvenier shop and mini grocery. Needless to say, being in Switzerland it was expensive. Very expensive. 


Day 7 La Fouly - Champex

Distance: 15km
Start altitude: 1610m
High point: Champex 1466m
Height gain: 420m
Height loss: 565m
Weather: Sunny all day, no wind.
 
This day has been more or less a transport stretch to Champex with few highlights. The path has mostly gone through wodden areas and small farm villages. 
 
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Tight corner at the beginning of the day.
 
At lunchtime i was passing through a small village which had a  nice little restuarant where i had a regional specialty called a Croûte Savoyarde. Kept me full for the rest of the day and has probably made up for all calories lost the last couple of days.
 
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Croûte Savoyarde.
 
Late afternoon i arrived in Champex where I decided against this place and went on to the camping area to pith my tent.
 
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Maybe next time.

Day 6 Rifugio Bonatti - La Fouly

Distance: 20km
Start altitude: 2150m
High point: Gran Col Ferret 2537m
Height gain: 895m
Height loss: 1410m
Weather: Sunny in the morning, continued by sun during the day. Almost no wind today exept for the Col. 
 
Started the day at Rifugio Bonatti which is named after the famous italian alpinist Walter Bonatti. There was a handwritten sign saying that it was a helicopter breakfast this morning and i found out why when i stepped outside to start my day.
 
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As there are no roads up here everything has to be transported in and out by helicopter. (that may also explain why its quite expensive in the refugios)
 
The first leg of the day took me to Rifugio Elena where i had a cup of coffee with a view.
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Glacier de Pré de Bar.

After the break it was a steep climb for two hours towards Gran Col  Ferret. When reached I stopped for a while having a last look at Italy. Because, on the other side of the Col it's Switzerland.
 
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Having a break on Gran Col Ferret.
 
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2.45h to La Fouly in Switzerland.
 
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Hello Switzerland.?
 
There is a couple of ways to travel the TMB, a lot of  people use the Refuges and can thereby travel lighter than if you like me choose to bring a tent a camp as much as possible. Then there are people that apperently don't want to carry anything.
 
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Let a horse carry your stuff.
 
From the Col it was a long decent towards La Fouly. When you get to lower altitudes in the vallyes it becomes really hot. And today with no wind i was nearly boiling at the end. 
The landscape at the lower level was very typical swiss farmland.
 
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A very Swiss cow.
 

Day 5 Courmayeur - Rifugio Bonatti

Distance: 16km
Start altitude: 1226m
High point: Tête de la Tronche 2584m
Height gain: 1597m
Height loss: 698m
Weather: Sunny in the morning, continued by sun during the day. Some spells of rain in the evening but mostly clear. Almost no wind today. I had some things to fix today in Courmayeur, one of them being to find a internet connection so i could upload this stuff. I found free wi-fi at the "Café des Guides".
 
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The sign  outside of the café breaths history.
 
I also needed some new wheels for my "batons". The old ones gave up on day two. It really dosen't matter for their purpose but the metallic clicking noise when the rubber have been worn through can make you go mad after a while.
 
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My new beefy wheels and the old ones.
 
On most of stages there is water supplies frequently  but today you had to fill up for the whole day at the beginning of the trail. I use a 3 litre water system and filled it to the top. 

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Supplying water to thirsty walkers since 1889.

Up till now there has been no trouble following the trail. It is very well marked. There are however variants on the TMB so you have to keep an eye on the guide book so you know which Col your heading for.
 
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In Italy the TMB signs look like this.?
 
I left Courmayeur after lunch and headed up a very steep trail to get up to the Rif. Bertone  and it was mostly through forest and there was not much to see other than where to put your feets. When i came out of the forest i could look down towards Courmayeur that i left one and half our ago.
 
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Courmayeur from above.
 
From there on it was a enjoyable walk through a varied landscape with nice views towards Rifugio Bonatti.
 
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Me on the trail.
 
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Grandes Jorasses.  ?
 

Day 4 Rifugio Elisabetta - Courmayeur

Distance: 18km

Start altitude: 2300m

High point: Mont Favre spur 2430m

Height gain: 460m

Height loss: 1560m

Weather: Sunny I the morning, continued by sun during the day. And then a sunny evening. Almost no wind today. 

Decending towards Courmayeur the track takes you along a hill-side track with a amazing view to the left.

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One of the amazing views experienced today.


As you near Courmayeur the landscape transforms in to  a ski resort and you find yourself walking on what in the winter would be transport stretches and ski slopes. A big contrast to the last couple of days. 

As there is no camping avaiable in the Courmayeur area I checked in to a little "pensione". Then I had a strole in the center of this very beutiful legandery alpinist town. Took a beer in the shade and watched the welldressed Italians walking by. A stark contrast to myself being that i was rather dusty and did, as we say in Swedish - didn't smell of raspberry.

 

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Very much Italy.

I did not take a lot of pictures today because the battery died. But I recharge it at the "Pensione" and bring you this picture from the evening dinner.

 

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Pasta (forgot my Spork).


Day 2 Les Contamines - Les Chapieux

Distance: 18 km

Start altitude: 1167m

High point: Col de la Croix du Bonhomme 2483m Height gain: 1316m Height loss: 929m.

Weather: Overcast in the morning. As altitude was gained, fog and constant drizzle. Wind picked up when the Cols where reached. In the afternoon some sun appeared during the decent.

Today the real trek started. It started with an constant accent for the first 4 hours. Unlike yesterday there where more people on the trail. And I was seldom alone. Today was the first time I encounterd snow. Above 2000m there is still a few snow patches left.

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Snow patch near the Col du Bonhomme.

When I reached the Col du Bonhomme and took shelter in a small shed to have a snack i discovered it was full of runners having a break. It turns out there is a ultra running competition. As i climbed towards Col de la Croix du Bonhomme i met at least 30-40 of these ultra runners. A lot of bonjours (you say bonjour to everybody you meet coming in the opposite direction).

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The small shelter at the top of Col Du Bonhomme.

As I desended towards Les Chapieux the weather cleared and it was a nice change from the constant drizzle I had for the past 4-5 hours. At the moment i lay in my tent listening to the bells of the cows nearby. Actually they where chasing a couple of them trough the "camping" area when i was cooking dinner. Nice entertainment. I was kind of amazed and forgot to take a picture.

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For dinner it was Soupe Montagnarde with some local goat cheese and bread.


Day 3 Les Chapieux - Rifugio Elisabetta

Distance: 15km

Start altitude: 1554m

High point: Col de la Seigne 2516m

Height gain: 1004m

Height loss: 258m

Weather: Sunny I the morning, continued by sun during the day. The wind picked up a bit in the evening and it got cooler. Later on the wind disapeared.

The first part of this day started with a long approach by road for about 1 1/2 hour. Then started a climb towards Col de la Seigne through a rolling green landscape. There where a lot of streams coming down from the glaciers to cross. 


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One of many streams crossed today.

Around lunch time I reached Col de la Seigne. This means crossing the border to Italy. There where a lot of people at the Col taking a rest and it was a bit crowded at the top. Beyond the Col a valley opens up with great mountain peaks on both sides. This made a perfect time for a little snack with a view.


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Feasting on some baguette and goat chesse...

 

Bild 3 22_7...and then some viewing.

 

From the Col it was a long decent through the valley towards Rifugio Elisabetta. When reached I walked uphill from the Rifugio and found a nice little flat place to put up my tent. 

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Nice place.

 

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View in the evening.

 

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View in the morning.

 


Day 1 Les Houches - Les Contamines

Distance: 16 km
Start altitude: 1007m
High point: Col de Voza 1653m
Height gain: 646m
Heigt loss: 633m

Weather:
Sunny in the morning, partly cloudy after lunch and rain in the evening. Around 20C.

The first stage of the tour is pretty straightforward, you start of with a pretty steep climb towards Col de Voza. Being the first first day it took a while to get in to a comfartable stride. This i also the first time i walked with poles and i must say that after i got used to them they where pretty handy, especially going down hill. This portion of the route is not very high up so exept for the Col it was mostly trails trough the forest landscapes. I did cross  acouple of streams that bombards down from the glaciers. When i arrived in Les Contamines i picked up some supplies being that it is now 3 days to the next place i can do some food shopping. There will be possibilties to get some stuff at the huts so i don't need to be totally self sufficent.

It was not very crowded on the the trail today and i think that i spent nearly 80% on my own. Not counting the frequent encounter with cows. I did actually share the trail with about 20 of them for 10 minutes or so. I also met a family where the daugther was carried by a donkey. Needless to say you had to watch out for the stuff that animals leave behind.

First Trek Day 1
The trailhead of the TMB.


First Trek Day 2   Arriving at Col de Voza this view awaited.



First Day 3
For lunch i had " soup de chinois".

 

First Day 4  Crossing the Bionnassay torrent.



Arriving in Chamonix

Arrived in Chamonix today at lunch time. This is the first time I've been here in the summer and the biggest difference was that the skiers had been replaced by climbers and trekkers. Otherwise the ambience was the same. There is something with Chamonix that strikes you as a visitor. You feel at the same time both humbled and thrilled by the big mountains that surounds you.

I spent the afternoon shopping for the last couple of things that I need for the trip. Then went to the cult burger place Belouga and got me a stomach full of carbs.

Tomorrow i will start my tour of Mont Blanc in Les Houches, a small village a couple of kilometers outside of Chamonix.

MapMap of the TMB.

A little about the tour - it's around 180 km with an accumulated height gain and loss of something like 10000m, there are 11 passes to cross during the trek.

The tour will be divided in to 11 stages.

1. Les Houches - Les Contamines

2. Les Contamines - Les Chapieux

3. Les Chapieux - Rifugio Elisabetta

4. Rifugio Elisabetta - Courmayeur (pasta) 5. Courmayeur
- Rifugio Bonatti 6. Rifugio Bonatti - La Fouly 7. La Fouly - Champex 8.
Champex - Col de la Forclaz 9. Col de la Forclaz - Tré le Champ 10. Tré le Champ - La Flégère 11. La Flégère - Les Houches

Depending on the weather and the condition of my feets it will take aprox 9-10 days.


 ArrivingFinal prepartion for the first trekking day.