Posts Tagged With: Chamonix

Tour du Mont Blanc: Downhill all the way

What a treat it was to enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning, knowing that we had only a short walk back to Chamonix, the starting and finishing point of our Tour du Mont Blanc. Plenty of time for a second cup of coffee!

We chose the path along the River L'Arve for our final 5 1/2 mile walk.

This looked like a tiny strawberry growing alongside the trail.

Clouds prevented us from seeing Mont Blanc in Chamonix when we began our trek. Clear skies today allowed the mountain to dominate. We have yet to tire of this view.

We arrived in Chamonix just in time for lunch, where we enjoyed a Mozza Salad at a little sidewalk cafe.

 

 

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Tour du Mont Blanc: The final climb

The Auguilles Verte and Drus on the left help frame the dome of Mont Blanc in Sue's photo from Col de Balme.

 

It was our final ascent of the Tour du Mont Blanc, which we began July 13. The thick clouds and rain of Saturday afternoon had cleared Sunday when we completed nearly 33,000 feet of climbing and an equal amount of descent over 10 trekking days.

As we reached the Col de Balme, Mont Blanc's greeting was more powerful than any camera can capture. We looked at the peaks from the Switzerland-France border and were struck by the fact that our feet had carried us 110 miles around the Massif du Mont Blanc and through three countries.

“Every step was worth it,” I said to a Bay Area family we had gotten to know the past few days. We all gazed at the 15,770-foot peak that we had not seen since day six. Meanwhile, we had become acquainted with many other mountains in the Massif.

We had gotten much stronger as the trek progressed and will miss the feeling that we can climb like we have never before. Unfortunately, this will pass when we return to our less strenuous lives in Oregon.

As we complete the circuit tomorrow with a relatively short walk to Chamonix, we will be looking up at Mont Blanc. She and this experience will provide vivid memories forever.

 

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Tour du Mont Blanc: Our challenge begins

 

Sue begins our trek down from Le Brévant.

Reg takes it slow and easy across a snow field at about 8,000 feet.

We were strongly advised to begin our trek with two gondola rides from Chamonix, taking us more than 5,000 feet up above spectacular terrain to Le Brevant, more than 8,000 feet high. Clouds blocked our view across the valley to Mont Blanc and made visibility poor for most of the day.

So, after ascending into the clouds, all we had to do is walk to Les Houtches, about 10 miles away, but more than a mile below. It is impossible to describe how challenging, exciting, tiring, painful, and wonderful it was. We walked across snow fields and hung on to railings and chains as our feet made their way on rocky ledges. Most of the way, each step had to be measured.

The skies held their moisture most of the way, but there were a few episodes of icy rain and we finished with an hour of rain.

We arrived at our hotel after seven hours, exhausted but filled with vivid memories of our first day on the Tour du Mont Blanc. We shall see if we can walk when Day Two begins!

 

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The way to Chamonix: Trains and costly surprises

Glaciers are revealed, but the clouds hide Mont Blanc in this view from our hotel this morning.

 

Naïveté, bad luck and good fortune all had parts in our eventful journey from sunny Strasbourg to rainy Chamonix in the French Alps on Monday.

Three trains were to take us on the nine-hour trip, but a bus and a very expensive taxi ride saved the day in the end.

The second train ride, meant to take us from Lyon in southern France to Saint Gervais, started well. But, when we got to the end of the line, we discovered we were in Evian! (Try that word backwards.)

Our hotel, La Chaumiere, in Chamonix. A nice breakfast buffet and a bottomless cup of coffee (our first on this trip) were a great start to the day.

We had lost half our train! It turned out that at one of the stops, the last three cars decoupled and they went to Saint Gervais, without us.

It was 9 p.m. and we were in Evian, a long way from our hotel room. We found the train engineer and he found us a bus, which took us back to Annemasse. He said to tell the folks at the train station what happened and that they would call a taxi to take us to Chamonix. A Japanese photographer in the same boat followed us.

We pulled into the Annemasse train station about 10 p.m. The bus driver spoke little English, but had been told of our plight and waited while we sought help.

However, the station was deserted. Now what? The benches looked like last-resort beds. Ouch!

Sue tried calling a taxi, but the first call went unanswered and the second got a recording in indecipherable French. The driver needed to go. We needed a taxi. A bilingual woman on the bus hopped off and called a taxi for the three of us.

It was nearly 11 p.m. when we pulled into Chamonix. The meter read 240€. As Sue and I approached the locked lobby of the La Chaumiere Hotel, tourists from London unlocked the door. An envelope on the counter welcomed the Spittles, our key inside!

It has been raining all day in Chamonix; our Tour du Mont Blanc begins tomorrow with more rain forecast. We will begin, rain or shine.

In Scotland, they might say “It never rains on the trail!”

 

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