16 July 2006

A Week In The Alps

July 2006

A full walking week with some good friends from the old days at Mansfield Brewery. My fellow walkers Bill McCosh, Darrell Stocks, Paul Handley and Hugh Wilson all survived the week despite one incident involving a ladder, mega quantities of Ibuprofen and Heinz tomato soup, plus unusually modest amounts of vin rouge.

Day 1

Cable car to la Flégere 1877m and walk S.W. along the Grand Balcon Sud to Planpraz followed by quick lunch at the chalet.
TMB route up to the summit of le Brevent 2525m and cable car return on the Brevent lift.
About 4 hours walking in hot weather.

Fresh legs! First day, heading for Planpraz on the Grand Balcon Sud, above Chamonix
With Hugh and Paul on the TMB route up to the summit of le Brevent

Summit of Aiguille Brevent, 2525m
Day 2

Circular walk to Lac Blanc from la Flégere. Cable car to la Flegere 1877m and walk to Lac Blanc via the main path. Lunch at Chalet du Lac Blanc 2352m, and return via TMB to la Flégere. Cable car back to Chamonix.
Again about 4 hours walking in fine weather.

Setting off from la Flagere for Lac Blanc
Lunch at Refuge Chalet du Lac Blanc
Views from above Lac Blanc 

On the TMB below Lac Blanc 

Day 3

Aiguille du Midi, photo courtesy of Garrondo via Wikipedia
Aiguille du Midi lift from Chamonix (up to 3842m) and across the Vallee Blanche and Glacier de Geant to Italy on the Helbronner telecabine, descending to Courmayeur by telepherique.
Splendid views of the glaciers, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Mont Blanc itself, Tour Ronde and the Grandes Jorasses…a highly recommended trip!
Walk up Val Ferret to Plancinpieux before traversing the slopes up to Refuge Bertone (1991m). Steep descent to Courmayeur and taxi back to Chamonix.

Chamonix Valley from the Aig. du Midi cable car
View towards the Grandes Jorasses from Aig. du Midi
Mont Blanc, view across the crest of the Cosmiques Arête
The team on the summit of Aiguille du Midi, 3842m. Mont Blanc is behind us
Mont Blanc, the mountaineer's track from the Cosmiques Arête in the foreground
Start of the Helbronner telecabine crossing of the Vallee Blanch, looking toward Italy
Climbers descending from the Aiguille du Midi
Cosmiques Arête viewed from the south 
Crossing the Vallee Blanche 
Grandes Jorasses from the Helbronner telecabine
Mont Blanc du Tacul
Glacier du Geant 
Tour Ronde 3792m,  climbed in 2005 by moi...
Glacier views from the Helbronner telecabine

Tour Ronde and Mont Blanc
Tour Ronde
Mont Blanc from the west
Dent du Géant, 4013m
Approaching Pte Helbronner en route to the Torino Hut
Mont Blanc from Pte Helbronner, 3462m
On Pte Helbronner 3462m
View to the Vanoise from the Torino Hut

Mont Blanc from above Courmayeur
Approaching Courmayeur
Mont Blanc from Val Ferret
Day 4

Cable cars/chairlift from le Tour towards Col de Balme. Easy contouring path with some slightly more exposed sections before ascent on lateral moraine bounding the Glacier du Tour. Final approach on moderately angled snow slopes, followed by a simple lunch at the Refuge Albert Premier 2702m. Return by the same route. Narrowly avoided being caught in a storm, which, fortunately, kept to the other side of the valley!

Sunny start from the Col de Balme 
The trail to the Albert Premier hut

Final snow slope before the Refuge Albert Premier
At the Refuge Albert Premier
Descent back to the Col de Balme...storm clouds gathering
Thunderstorm over the Chamonix valley...time to get off the hill!
Day 5

Planned ascent of Mont Joly 2525m. Cable car from Les Contamines to le Signal, then climbed to Aiguille Croche 2487m and on to ridge high above Megéve. Quick lunch on ridge before abandoning route due to towering cumulo-nimbus in all directions. Descent via same route, with storm breaking as we reached valley bottom.

Summit of Aiguille Croche 2487m
Descent from Aiguille Croche
Day 6

Tramway du Mont Blanc from St Gervais to Bellevue (1786m). Walk down through forest and across the cascades issuing from the huge Glacier de Bionnassay. Then a climb up to Col Tricot (2120m). Drop to Chalets de Miage and final descent to la Villette. Total descent today c. 1000m.

Starting day 6 on the TMB above Bionnassay
Crossing the Torrent de Bionnassy 
Aiguille du Gouter, start of the 'Ordinary Route' on to Mont Blanc
Rest stop on the Col de Tricot, 2120m 
Descent from the Chalets de Miage
Looking into the valley of les Contamines Montjoie
Tired legs! Only 1000m of descent today ;-)