Your fitness : you are in good condition (you practise sports twice a week). You are used to hiking.
Total climbing of the Tour : 8588 m / 28170 feet. Total going down : 9365 m / 30720 feet. Total hiking time : 65 hours ( climbing pace : + 300 meters per hour ).
Guiding : a qualified IFMGA Mountain Guide, or a qualified UIMLA International Mountain Leader, speaking fluently English, with 8 to 15 participants.
The route :
Day 1 Les Houches - Bellevue - Miage
Meeting point at Les Houches, Chamonix valley, at the cash desk of Bellevue cable car, at 9h00 am. The cable car lifts us from the altitude 1010 m to Bellevue, 1794 m. The path goes down to the Nepalese bridge of Bionnassay, 1720 m, close to the glacier, then up in woods and a old mountain pasture to the Tricot pass, 2120 m, a nice point of wiew on the Haut Val Montjoie valley. Optional ascent to Mont Vorassay, 2299 m. Pic-nic at Tricot pass. In the early afternoon, we go down to Miage mountain pasture and to Miage hut, 1559 m.
Duration of walking: 3 hours and a half. Difference of level : 400 meters up, 635 meters down. Mont Vorassay optional ascent : + 179 m, - 179 m.
Day 2 Miage - Nant Borrant
The path goes up steeply to Truc mountain pasture, 1750 m, and then goes down through the woods till the nice chalets of Les Contamines-Montjoie village, 1167 m. A few flat kilometers lead us to the church of Notre-Dame de la Gorge, built in the 17th century in a baroque style. From there, a steep ascent on the old Roman route, which linked Geneva to Rome by the Bonhomme and the Petit Saint Bernard passes, brings us to the charming lodge of Nant Borrant, 1450 m.
Duration of walking: 4 hours and a half. Difference of level : 474 meters up, 583 meters down.
Day 3 Nant Borrant - Les Mottets
Passing Balme mountain pasture, we head up to the Bonhomme pass, 2329 m, which links the Savoie and the Haute-Savoie. From this first pass, the path goes through old limestone slopes (lappiaz), till the Croix du Bonhomme pass, 2479 m, a very nice point of wiew, where we will have pic-nic and siesta. In the afternoon, a 40 minutes ascent leads to the third pass of the stage, Les Fours pass, 2665 m. Steep descent till the waterfalls, facing the Aiguille des Glaciers peak, 3817 m. Later, the path gets easier, passing near cows herds. At la Ville des Glaciers, 1789 m, we get to a piste which takes us to Les Mottets hut, 1868 m. The shepherds sell there the local cheese, the Beaufort.
Duration of walking: 7 hours. Difference of level : 1309 meters up, 891 meters down.
Day 4 Les Mottets - Elisabetta hut
The path goes up steeply through mountain pastures, till La Seigne pass, 2516 m, where you enter in Italy. Two distinctive geological features can be seen from there : the two limestone pyramids. These natural towers have been created by the upheaval of the Alps, which pushed up the metamorphic granite and gneiss, and pushed away the limestone. Another famous peak stands as a witness of these geological events : in the "Aiguilles Rouges group", just above Chamonix, the Belvédère peak, 2965 m, on its gneiss base, still wears as a hat, on the last 10 vertical meters under its summit, stratums of quartzite - dolomite - clay limestone, which erosion could not destroy.
Descent to Elisabetta hut, 2195 m, a hut offering nice wiews on the Mont-Blanc italian side glaciers.
Duration of walking: 4 hours and a half. Difference of level : 688 meters up, 361 meters down.
Day 5 Elisabetta hut - Courmayeur
A short descent, and then we walk on a flat piste, close to Combal lake, 1958 m. We later climb the old path leading to the deserted pastures of Arp vieille supérieure, 2303 m, and to a fantastic balcony path offering the best wiews on the Mont-Blanc peaks. We pass Chécrouit pass, and then go down to Courmayeur, 1230 m, which will welcome us for one night. Most of the city houses have granite walls, and all have roofs covered with slates, a lawful obligation in this italian valley.
Duration of walking: 6 hours and a half. Difference of level : 405 meters up, 1370 meters down.
Day 6 Courmayeur - Bonatti hut
From Courmayeur, the path heads up in zig-zags on the steep slopes of Montagne de la Saxe. Pic-nic near Bertone hut, 1970 m, where you can have a real italian coffee, expresso or ristretto, with Mont-Blanc scenery just in front of you. As the afternoon stage is not very long, we can have a one hour siesta, before to hike to Bonatti hut, 2025 m. This hut bears the name of Walter Bonatti, a prolific mountaineer, explorer and writer, which book, "My Mountains" (Le Mie Montagne) is one of the best of alpine literature.
Duration of walking: 5 hours and a half. Difference of level : 995 meters up, 200 meters down.
Day 7 Bonatti hut - La Fouly
The path smoothly goes down to the depth of the italian Val Ferret, with a superb wiew on the Grandes Jorasses peaks, 4208 m. Just below Elena hut, 2062 m, begins the climb to Grand Col Ferret pass, 2537 m, point of wiew on the Mont-Blanc group and on the first swiss peaks of the Valais, where we enter in Switzerland. You may choose an optional ascent, Tête Ferret, 2713 m, leaving your backpack at the pass. A long descent will take us to the small Swiss village named La Fouly, 1593 m, where we will pass the night in a lodge.
Duration of walking: 7 hours. Difference of level : 837 meters up, 1269 meters down. Tête Ferret optional ascent : + 176 m, - 176 m.
Day 8 La Fouly - Champex
A easy day, going down the swiss Val Ferret, following the course of the stream, passing by the small hamlets of Prayont, Praz de Fort, Issert. In the afternoon, the path goes up to the typical village of Champex, 1486 m, with its beautiful lake. Night in lodge on the shore of the lake.
Duration of walking: 5 hours and a half. Difference of level : 460 meters up, 567 meters down.
Day 9 Champex - Trient
The steepest stage of the Tour. After an easy warm-up, going down to Champex d'En bas, 1320 m, the path enters the forest, and becomes steeper and steeper as we get close to the pasture of Bovine, 1987 m. We deserve a good break there !. Then a short ascent takes us to Portalo crest, 2040 m, highest point of the stage. In the distance we can see the Mont Ruan, where Jacques Balmat, first man to climb Mont-Blanc, in company with Auguste Paccard, died while searching a mysterious gold vein. Descent to Forclaz pass, 1523 m, and then to Trient, 1297 m. Night in lodge.
Duration of walking: 6 hours. Difference of level : 720 meters up, 909 meters down.
Day 10 Trient - La Boerne
A long ascent, firstly in a steep forest, and then on grassy slopes, where flower the rhododendrons (Rhododendron Ferrugineum), and we reach the Balme pass, 2191 m. What a wiew ! : Chamonix valley, Aiguilles de Chamonix, Aiguille Verte, Les Drus, Aiguille du Goûter, Dôme du Goûter, where emerge the glaciers of Bossons and Taconnaz, and the Mer de Glace. Pic-nic and siesta at the pass, before to go down the path leading to Charamillon mountain pasture, Le Tour village, and the halmet of Montroc. From there, a short 5 minutes ascent will take us at the lodge "La Boerne", 1401 m.
Duration of walking: 5 hours. Difference of level : 914 meters up, 810 meters down.
Day 11 La Boerne - Bellachat
We take the Cheserys footpath, pass near the tiny peaks of the two Aiguillettes d'Argentière, till the old pasture of the Cheserys. From there, a esay path leads to La Flégère, 1877 m, and Planpraz, 1999 m. Then comes a steep and stony ascent up to Le Brévent, 2525 m, the best place for photos of the Mont-Blanc group. Descent to Bellachat hut, 2152 m.
Duration of walking: 8 hours. Difference of level : 1366 meters up, 615 meters down.
Day 12 Bellachat - Les Houches
Breakfast on the sunny terrace of Bellachat hut, and descent to Park Merlet zoo. Optional visit of the park where you will see marmots, lamas, hinds, chamois and ibexes. After pic-nic, we keep going down to Les Houches, 1010 m, where we will be around 3 pm. End of the programme.
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