Tour du Mont Blanc :: Aiguillete des Posettes, Col de Balme and Trient

Up before 07:00 again. Everything a bit damp. Much more efficient at packing everything up and getting ready.

Set off at 09:00 on a steep, plodding, 600m climb, all of us following right behind Charlie. Back on the TMB again, it starts off zig-zagging up through the forest, emerging on a ridge above le Tour, eventually leading to the Aiguillette des Posettes where we had amazing views back down the valley towards Chamonix and the Aiguille d’Argentière.


Mont Blanc Massif

Mont Blanc Massif

On the way up through the trees, we encountered the hotel lot and their guide, Frank, for the first time. Lots of gossiping about the fact that one lady from that group was pretty much left behind and swallowed up by our group.

From the Aigullete des Posettes we descended to the Col des Posettes with Catherine and I storming on ahead a little and admiring some lovely dogs trotting alongside their owners.

From there we ascended again to the Col de Balme. This was one of the segments where I just took off uphill, pushing as hard as I could, enjoying the feeling of having a tough aerobic workout, up in the mountains with the sun beating down and the sound of the cows’ bells down in the valley below.. These sections were the bits where I probably enjoyed the walking most. It was great to feel the joint and muscle aches fading and to feel so fit and strong.

Up at the Col de Balme, we had hot chocolates, coffees and our lunch butties at the refuge there. These refuges are mountain huts that are mostly only accessible by helicopter or on foot. They sell snacks and drinks, and most also provide a bed for the night to walkers. They vary from the quite modern, very well equipped type to the ramshackle, run-down, antiquated type (or “rustic”, if you prefer).

The Refuge de Col de Balme is very much the latter type. You get your lunch roll brought out to you in a fist and plonked on the table. There’s a coat rail made of goat’s feet. You have to ask for the key for the toilet out back which doesn’t have a tap for washing hands. But best of all was the hardy old lady running the place who I christened “the wicked witch” after her taking an age to serve me my coffee. All good fun really, but I’d love to experience staying the night there.


Us

Us

At Col de Balme, we crossed over into Switzerland and descended steeply through the woods, crossing a makeshift bridge an into the picturesque little villages of le Peuty and Trient with “milka cows” with their big bells around their necks, incredibly perfect vegetable patches, log cabins etc. etc. You really would have to see the pefectness of the place to believe it.

Outside of Trient, along the road a bit, we came to our camp for the night by a river coming down from the Glacier du Trient. Exodus call it a rough camp because it doesn’t have showers or hot water, but it was far from rough, really. There was a lovely big shelter made out of logs with tables and benches, a cooking area, bins, toilets, big troughs for washing in and the next days forecast posted.

After pitching our tents and a cup of tea, we fell unconscious on our sleeping mats in the sun. It’s funny the way you don’t feel tired, but as soon as you stop, your body just shuts down. To wake up, though, we got to wash ourselves for dinner in the glacial cold water in the washing troughs. The guys got a chance to do the macho thing of taking the shirt off and sticking your head in the freezing water, while the girls got the chance to squeal like babies.

Dinner that evening started with a big platter of cold meats, cheese, hummus, bread, etc. followed by curry for main course and pots of caramel yoghurt for dessert. After dinner, some of us played pétanque (boules) and, at first, I played like an absolute legend, but the wine soon took over and I ended up playing atrociously. While we were doing that, Vanessa and some others had lit a campfire and then we all sat around on benches, toasting marshmallows, looking at the stars, drinking and joking. Even still, we were in bed by 22:30 or so.

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