Our final two days walking on the Tour du Mont Blanc was some of the hardest with steep ascents in hot temperatures.
Day 9 – Les Contamines to Les Houches – 8 hours 45
Total distance 19.5km ascent 1225m descent 1505m
Today felt like a brutal walk, a bloody steep ascent in scorching weather. Being stung by a horsefly and then zapped by an electric fence; my knees ached and I hadn’t eaten enough chocolate the day before. It was hell. And then someone said that we were on a harder variant path…
It was a steep walk through woodland from our campsite at Les Contamines to Auberge du Truc, but there was an amazing view once there.
From there we had to descend down to the Chalet du Miages and then we were faced with a very steep ascent up to the Col du Tricot. Despite it being a relentlessly boring slog of dusty zigzags up to the col, it was worth it. I know, it doesn’t look that steep, but zoom into the photo and see the smaller ants near the summit, they’re people!
Whilst it would have been easy to moan about why we had taken the harder variant path, and not stuck to the main TMB which followed the side of the hill around through Bionnassay village, this route enabled us to have a fantastic view of the Bionnassay glacier and cross a rope bridge to reach the Col de Voza.
Unfortunately, from here we had a very dull slog down the ski trails and tracks to reach the road, which we followed into Les Houches.
Day 10 – Les Houches to Plan Praz (over Le Brevent) 6 hours 30
Total distance – 9.5km ascent 1515m descent 465m
I set off a bit giddy that this was our final day and I had a day of lying in my tent a bit later than normal, eating ice cream and riding the cable car up to the Aiguelle di Midi to look forward to.
The giddiness soon wore off when the long slog through the woodland began. Today was a day of climbing a mountain, Le Brevent, and there would be no relenting in the uphill slog to the top. I didn’t stop to take photos until the refuge Bellachat. Sections up to the refuge were narrow with cable rails for the rocks sections.
The refuge had taken us 3 hours to reach, and though it was less than 400m in altitude and 2km from the summit, a rest was needed.
Though the path onto Le Brevent summit was more rocky it wasn’t as steep and had amazing views across the valley. I have to admit to being elated to have reached Le Brevent and know it was all downhill to the end, but also bitterly disappointed it was so busy with tourists who had cheated and caught the cable car up. Its like slogging up Snowdon to be confronted with a load of people who’ve caught the train up.
The route back down to Plan Praz, were we had started our adventure, didn’t take long, especially since much of the route was still covered in snow and it was easier to slide down than walk.
We arrived at Plan Praz and caught the cable car down for ice cream in Chamonix. Mmmm
The following day I splurged and went both paragliding and up the cable car to the Aguille di Midi. Expensive but worth every penny to see real mountaineers having adventures on Mont Blanc. Maybe next time.