Last year when I walked part of the Tour de Mont Blanc with my friend Julia, I kept a video diary, filming at the end of each day my impressions of the things we had seen on that part of the walk. I really enjoyed putting it all together and re-living the highs and lows of our three day walk, so this year I decided to make another video diary as we walked the next part of the route, starting at Flegere, where we had left off last year.
Some of the time I let Julia walk ahead, filmed myself quickly talking to camera and then had to jog along to catch up. Other times I was able to persuade Julia to film me (I had to catch her in a good mood, as not being a blogger she didn’t always understand the fascination of filming, photographing and audio recording every single thing we passed on the walk).
I hope you enjoy my video diary of the Tour de Mont Blanc walk below
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When I look at the video it does make me laugh to see how fresh I was in the first shot when we had only just come up the cable car and been walking for a short while. Although the wind was blowing and making my eyes water, I still had the makeup and mascara in place – yes I am vain enough to wear make-up when I know I’m going to be on video for posterity! A few hours hard walking later and the sweat had stripped my face bare – so now you see me all fresh faced and natural (well natural anyway)
On the first day we took the bus along the valley and ascended on the bubble lift to the refuge at Flegere where we had descended the year before – what had taken two days hard walking the year before was achieved in a 30 minute bus ride. The climb up was punishing, even more so because the weather was cold with mist and drizzle and once at the top we could not even consider taking the downhill descent on metal ladders which would have been slippery and dangerous. Because of this, our descent was much longer, down a rocky couloir to the bottom of the valley again at Tre-le-Champs. We stopped at the refuge in the pretty hamlet to have lunch and wished we could spend the night there, but after lunch it was up hill again towards Aiguillette de Possette.
Through the morning Julia had not been feeling great and we realised that the altitude must be affecting her, as she found it a struggle to climb up but was much better once she came down to the valley. Because of this the afternoon with a climb up to Aiguillette de Possette was a real struggle for her and even when we got beyond that peak, we had to encounter a further climb and a face-off on the path with a herd of cows. Julia had been chased by a herd of cows as a girl, so she was positively terrified, while I was happy to get out the camera and film them go by. Finally, just as dusk was falling we arrived at the Refuge Col de Balme where the dining room was cosy with a stove but the dorm rooms had no light at all, and we shared with 3 Frenchmen, the only other guests.
The second day dawned with blue skies and sunshine and spirits were high as we set off, skirting around the mountain and eventually reaching a point when we had a fantastic view of the Glacier du Trient, hanging over the valley. Julia was still struggling and by the time she reached the bridge at the bottom of the valley, she told me later that she was nearly ready to pass out. At the Cafe du Glacier, we assessed the situation and realised that we couldn’t make another 5 hours walk to Champex so in the end we had to hitch, train and bus to Champex, reaching it by evening. Although the Swiss public transport system was super efficient, we wished that we had been able to walk the whole way as planned – we felt cheated of our walking achievement.
I filmed the final part of the video at Champex at our wonderful hostel – Gite Bon Abri and by the lake where we did a very gentle tour around the lake and then sat in the cafe sunning ourselves until it was time to get the bus to the station at Martigny and then on to Chamonix to our start point again. Next year, we hope to plan a longer leg to get as far as Courmayeur and into Italy. I’ll continue my video diary next year – Bonne Route!
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More tales from the Tour de Mont Blanc
Watch last year’s Video diary on the Tour de Mont Blanc 2010 (do I look a year younger?)
My guest post at Roaming tales about last year’s walk – Hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc
Resources for those walking the Tour de Mont Blanc
On the first night of our walk we stayed at Refuge Col de Balme (Tel 04 50 54 02 33) and the cost was around €40 per person with dinner and breakfast in a 6 bed dorm room. On our second night we stayed at Gite Bon Abri at Champex-de’en-Haut, which we highly recommend, with private rooms and dorm rooms. The cost was around CHFR 76 per person with dinner and breakfast in a 6 bed dorm room and the Gite may be booked in advance by e-mail.
I got my women’s outdoor clothing at Ellis Brigham who have a wide range of waterproof jackets, trousers and other walking gear you might need for a trek on the mountains.
We used the Cicerone Tour of Mont Blanc guide by Kev Reynolds – we found it to be an excellent guide for both the clockwise and anti-clockwise route with detailed route guide, maps, accommodation information and points of interest along the route.
At the start and end of our walk, we stayed at the modern, stylish, budget boutique Hotel Slalom that is perfectly placed in Les Houches for summer walking opposite the start of the anti-clockwise TMB route. Double rooms in the summer season €86-99 plus €10 breakfast. Check for the best hotel prices in Switzerland and book here.
We booked our transfer from Geneva airport to Les Houches through Chamexpress and found them to run an extremely efficient airport to hotel service – cost was €28 + tax per person each way.
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