TMB Days 4-6

Our hiking day typically started with an early breakfast (usually around 7:00 AM) followed by a trip to the lunch spread where we picked our snack and lunch food for the day. Danny and Julien did a nice job selecting local fresh food and we never had problems sticking to our pescatarian diet.

Fabrizio and Danny and our lunch spread

Day 4: Vallée des Glaciers to Courmayeur

Day 4 started with a van ride to the tiny Ville des Glaciers up the Vallée des Glaciers which eliminated a ~2 mile road walk.

The bustling Ville des Glaciers

Julien led us from the van to a small farm that makes Beaufort cheese. Beaufort is “produced in the Savoie region of France. The cheese is prepared using 11 liters (2.9 U.S. gal) of milk for every 1 kg (2.2 lb) of cheese desired. The milk used in one variety comes from the Tarine or Abondance cows that graze in the Alps.” And it tastes really good. The ~80 lb cheese wheels are wiped with brine and turned every few days, for at least 6 months.

Today was supposed to be a “relatively easy hike over the Col de
la Seigne (8,245′)” but, of course, we were with “A” team so did a much harder (though very pretty) route that turned this into another 4,000′ plus day.

From Ville des Glaciers we hiked to the Refuge de Rocher where we started a steep climb out of the Vallée des Glaciers.

Looking back south down the Valee des Glaciers. Refuge de Rocher (where the climb started) is visible in the right center of the picture

After about 4 miles and 2400′ we reached the Col de la Seigne at 8200′ and the border with Italy. At this point we could have headed down the valley into Italy but….. being the “A” team we elected to go up the ridge on our right, eventually getting to just over 9,000′.

Heading up the ridge rather than down into the valley …. of course.

The weather turned briefly stormy and we got our rain gear on for one of the few times.

Alpine lakes on the way to the Col de Baracon
At the (windy) Col de Baracon, 9,000′
Happy at the top….. now we have to go down…down…down.
Nice view of glaciers across the valley

This was definitely our longest day and by the time we started the steep, 3,000 foot down climb we were all pretty tired.

Coming down! Bert, Ed and Julien are in the picture – can you find them?

The day ended with a mile road walk to where Fabrizio could pick us up and then to our hotel in Courmayeur. We will stay here for two nights – we reverse the direction of the next day’s hike to finish again in Courmayeur.

View from our hotel (Hotel Berthod) in Courmayeur

Day 5: La Vachey to Courmayeur

After two really tough days this was a relatively easy day (still close to 3,000′ of climbing but only 9 miles long). We did this section in the reverse direction to be able to finish in Courmayeur.

Fabrizio dropped us off up the Aosta Valley, Italy for the nine mile walk back to Courmayeur

Hiking southeast up the Aosta Valley back to Courmayeur. Mt Blanc is visible in the upper right.
Our group hiking up the valley
A break at a refugio …. and a cafe. And yes, that is my shirt drying on the line.
Nice view of Mt Blanc across the valley.

And, as usual, we ended the day with a 2500 foot descent, walking back to town and the hotel.

Ahhhh…. home!
Okay… we drank a little wine.

Day 6: La Vachey to La Fouly

Another relatively easy day …… only 3,000 feet of ascent! Which I really needed after eating too much pizza and drinking too much wine at dinner last night. And today we hike into Switzerland!

But, this being the Alps, we start the day with a steep 3 mile, 2500′ climb up to the Col de Ferret, the high point of the day at 8,300′ and the border between Italy and Switzerland. Mount Dolent (on the border between France, Switzerland and Italy) is visible to the Northwest.

Mt Dolent (middle peak) and Rifugio Elena, where we stopped for a cafe on the way up to the Col de Ferret.
Hiking up…..up….up!
Hiking to the Col de Ferret up ahead (saddle in the top middle of the picture)
Switzerland! A very windy Col de Ferret (8,300′)
Ed pointing at the pass we came over two days ago.

We dropped down the far side of the col to get out of the wind for lunch before heading down the Val Ferret toward La Fouly.

Lunch in Switzerland.

Then down, down, down the Val Ferret toward La Fouly, where dependable Fabrizio and his van were waiting to take us the short ride to our hotel in Chapex. But we had time to stop at Gîte Alpage de La Peule for a quick beer on the way down.

Heading down the Val Ferret toward La Fouly

At the hotel, this being Wednesday I attempted to explain what a Martini was to the nice lady bartender. We basically ended up with glasses of vodka and ice with a few olives. Good enough!

Swiss “Martinis”!

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