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When we planned the trip, for four of us including one with lung problems and another convalescing from a major operation, we headed for Chamonix since it has many téléphériques which run in summer. That would mean that one could pay to be taken up the mountains and then do traversing or descending walks. When you read on you will find what actually happened. Despite our change of plan, the holiday turned out to be a great success. With hindsight we were very glad that I had only pre-booked accomodation for the first two nights and the last night. This meant we could move our holiday to the opposite side of the mountains.
We travelled out on Monday and spent our first night at the Chalet Alpin du Tour in the Chamonix valley.
Sunday was miserably wet. Nevertheless we took a bus down the valley and a téléphérique up to the Refuge de la Flégère. It was chilly and copious amounts of rain were falling. We stopped at the refuge for a cup of coffee and watched the rain and a few very wet people. Then, reluctantly, we went out and began walking.
It was cloudy, grey and very wet.
We walked, gaining height as we did so.
The nearby scenery was green and the distant was grey. We walked on whilst enjoying our surroundings in a perverse sort of way. When the time came to descend to Argentière through the woods we enjoyed the steep paths. In Argentière we stopped for refreshment in the near-empty cafes and then took the bus back to le Tour.
That night we checked the weather forecast and it promised more rain for at least another week. Time for a change of plan.
No walking today. We loaded up all of our luggage and took the local bus into Chamonix. There we caught a bus to go through the Mont Blanc Tunnel to get to the other side of the mountain range at Courmayeur.
It was not the best of trips with two hours spend in a traffic jam caused by the slow action of the French border crossiing. (I thought I remembered something about free movement between EC countries?)
As you can see, the weather was greatly improved!
We found a hotel in Courmayeur for the night.
Then we had a good meal of pizza or pasta and laid plans for the following day.
We phoned the Rifugio Bonatti and got dormitory accomodation for one night. So we took a bus to the head of Val Ferret and started to walk up the path to the Bonatti.
As we climbed there was snow falling higher up the valley but it scarcely affected us and rapidly faded as we headed west into clear air and sunshine.
Initially there was some hight to be gained. Not easy for anyone with a lung problem.
Once past the intial climb the undulations of the path were spaced-out and easier for Joan to manage.
That said, a second or two after this picture was taken Joan had her one and only slip of the trip!
The Rifugio Bonatti is now in sight. It is the lower of two buildings in the distance.
Just a ravine and a bridge to cross then there will be a gentle descent to the Bonatti.
A recently built hut, this must be one of the nicest huts in the Alps.
Spacious and well equipped dormitories and very friendly and helpful staff - not to mention the excellent food!
No room at the Rifugio Bertone for us tonight, but Bonatti have two "luxury" twin rooms available tonight. We gratefully take these.
The weather is perfect and we plan to walk to the Bertone and then back again.
We get ready to go.
A kind lady takes a group photo.
A clear blue sky.
The route is mainly open but with patches of woodland.
There are a few streams and they are all bridged.
The sky stays blue.
Mont Blanc stays white!
We arrive at the Bertone.
Lunch is coffee and a slice of cake.
We then start the return journey.
Good views all around....
....especially looking back.
The walk back did not feel like a repetition. There is much to see and it all looks different when facing the other way.
We liked tonight's luxury accomodation.
Here we are in the special bathroom for those with the up-market rooms.
Good weather, as usual.
We retraced the Tuesday walk back to the head of Val Ferret to catch a bus back to Courmayeur.
That is to say that Joan and I went back to Courmayeur.
Rosemarie and Peter headed up towards Col Ferret and were lucky to get two places at the Rifugio Elena.
In Courmayeur ours was a very comfortable night spent in a well-equipped annexe of the Vieux Pommier.
Joan and I took a bus up Val Veni and walked up and around the Jardin du Miage area.
The walk starts by weaving between vast blocks and makes its way up via the wooded lateral moraines of a former glacier.
The scenery on the walk was good. The walk is done as an out and return route.
Weather, at this low level, was hot and the paths are only partially shaded by the trees.
There was a welcome cafe with a shady verandah for us when we got back down to the road.
While we were walking, Rosemarie and Peter had arrived in Courmayeur and managed to obtain the rooms adjacent to ours.
Today the Rosemarie and Peter were heading up Val Veni to follow a loop back along part of the TMB route.
Joan and I took a cabin lift and a chairlift up to reach the Maison Vieille. We walked to nearby woodlands where we sat in the cool shade for some while.
Later we had a light lunch at the Maison Vieille and waited for the others to reach us from higher up the valley.
It was getting quieter at the Maison Vielle when they finally arrived. We drank a cold beer together and then we all walked back down together to Courmayeur.
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