Tour du Mont Blanc Trek Report
By Michael Boisvert.
As most of you know, a GayOutdoors Crew including Jon and I completed the 105-mile, Tour du Mont Blanc trek this past September. We started on September 4, 2011 and finished on September 14, 2011. I planned this trek myself and did not use any guides.
The Tour du Mont Blanc [TMB] is one of the world's classic long treks. At its heart is the sprawling glaciers and majestic rock spires of Mont Blanc itself. At 15,771 feet, this is the highest peak in the Alps and the roof of Western Europe. More than a mere mountain, this massif hosts dozens of glaciers and hundreds of summits, and is surrounded by seven major valleys.
The TMB trek follows a circular route around Mont Blanc, winding for some 105 miles in and out of the valleys, linked by a succession of 10 or 11 high passes, gaining and loosing some 32,000 feet of altitude. We started and finished in Chamonix, the world capital of mountaineering. From there we made our way through charming Alpine valleys, past lakes and glaciers, and across the frontiers of France, Italy and Switzerland.
It's difficult to single out highlights of this route because it includes such variety. Some highlights including watching the sunset from the Col du Bonhomme Refuge, hiking into Italy over the Col du Seigne that included a tough 18 mile day with an estimated 5,500 elevation gain, a Mont Blanc sunset from the Refuge Bertone, sheer scenic grandeur when hiking from Refuge Bertone to Refuge Elena, hiking in Swiss Valleys, climbing to Fenetre Arpette with similar terrain as the northern Presidential Range in New Hampshire's White Mountains, the day climbing up to Lac du Mont Blanc Refuge, spotting Ibex, and the sunrise from Lac du Mont Blanc on our last day. We had days where the views were perhaps unequalled in the Alps!
But there is much more to the route than spectacular mountain views. There is the rush of glacier melt streams with its milky gray color, the meadows of wildflowers, the tinkling of cowbells or the warm fellowship of our group having a convivial meal in a mountain refuge.
We had a ton of fun as you can tell by the slide show [link below]. It was a great ten days and we could not have done it with a better group of friends!
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