The Silitch Family

Adventures in the Alps and Beyond

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Running around Mt Blanc


One often hears about hiking the Tour du Mt Blanc in 10-12 days, a beautiful tour that passes through France, Italy and Switzerland, circumnavigating the Mt. Blanc Massif. I partnered with Sierra Mountain Guides for their first ever Tour du Mt Blanc Running Trip.

We took 6 days to complete this tour-and covered 102 miles and 32,560 feet of elevation gain and loss (yeah that is a lot of downhill.) We averaged about 18-10 miles a day. Our route followed the general route of the Ultra Trail du Mt Blanc with a few variations.

Bold
Day 1:
Travelled from Chamonix to Les Contemine, France. 20 miles, 5000 feet gain. This day we ran along the L'Arve river down the Chamonix Valley to the small town of Les Houches. From here we took a lift (just one!) to the Col de Voza and descended down to the city of St. Gervais and then went up the valley to the small village of Les Contamines where we had a lovely stay at the Hotel Chemenaz.























Day 2: Our biggest elevation day. 18 miles and 8, 323 feet in elevation gain. A 2 col day. 2 cols a day keeps the doctor away! We left Les Contamines and climbed up from the lovely church of Notre Dame de la Gorge to the Col de Bonnehomme and the crete de Bonnehomme. We reached our highpoint of the 2,665 meters and crossed a small patch of snow! We headed down and up to our next col, Col de la Seine or (pain!) and then descended into the Italian Valley of Val Veny to our refugio for the night Elizabetta. At the Elizabetta hut our night was far from restful as we were sandwiched like sardines in an upper bunkroom with an orchestra of snorers....c'est la vie in a mountain refuge. One thing the high alpine hut had going for it was the glacial stream which was a great spot for a recovery leg soak!. We managed to find a cold stream to soak our legs in each day. 10 minutes of cold soaking really helps with recovery!



Day 3: Our shortest day. 9 miles to Courmeyer and just 1540 feet in climbing. We had a restfull day here exploring Courmeyer and soaking in the famous Pre St Didier natural hot springs.





Day 4: La Fouly: 20 miles and 7, 020 feet of climbing. We left in the misty rain and climbed a steep and steady climb from town to the Bertone refugio and then traversed the Val Ferret to the beautiful Bonnatti hut for a very thick italian style mocha (basically chocolate pudding and expresso) This gave us a jump start up to the Col de Ferrett and brought us in for the final descent into Switzerland into the town of La Fouly. One really notices a change from country to country. Once we arrived in La Swiss, cows were grazing there to greet us. The villages were swept clean and there were even Gnomes to welcome us.





Day 5: Col de la Forclaz. 18 miles and 4,579 feet. We headed down the valley and made a short climb up to the beautiful village of Champex, a classic village that the haute route passes through. From Champex, we climbed up the famous, steep and technical climb up the Bovine pass. From the high mountain pasture we overlooked into the Swiss Valais and out to Lac Leman. We stopped for a drink and cake at the Refuge de Bovine- (fyi. they don't take Visa). From here we headed down to the Col de Forclaz, a pass we cross many times in the car heading over to Switzerland.



Day 6: Big last day. Another 2 pass day! 18 miles and 7, 635 feet in elevation! We headed down to the small village of Trient. We discovered the water was not drinkable at that moment but managed to fill up at a little store before our first big climb. We crossed the border from Switzerland back to France (there is no border patrol) We only realized that the Swiss are very acurate in their descriptions for how long it will take to get somewhere and France is a little more laissez-faire. We fueled up in Vallorcine before our last big climb from the Col de Montets into the Aiguilles Rouge nature reserve. Here we had some clouds as a backdrop but still managed to get a great view of the Mer de Glace glacier and the Chamonix Aiguilles. We even saw some wildlife other than cows, a young bouquetin (ibex). Just when we arrived at the Flegere the rain started to come down and kept us cool for our final descent into Chamonix.




















It was great to get back home, see my boys and husband and slip those feet into an ol' pair of flip flops! And perhaps get a well needed pedicure!






















To see our trip in video format click here!

video