Tour du Mont Blanc :: Champex to la Fouly

Up a bit later today around 07:30 as there was no real rush on us. It was to be a relatively short walking day and Omar had to go down to Champex to buy some new boots since the sole of his boot fell off the previous day.


Omar! Smile!

Omar! Smile!

Just as we were about to leave site, two girls appeared who friends of Charlie and Liz and who were doing the TMB anti-clockwise in three days. Apparently, they had come from La Fouly that morning and were going to continue back along the route we had just come, finishing that day in Chamonix. Crazy biscuits.

We strolled on down into Champex and around the other side of the lake with Brian, enjoying the early morning sunshine, the peace and quiet of the lake and the fishermen out catching tiddlers.

We set off from Champex, descending gently through the woods until we reach Issert where we met up with Liz and stopped for a bit at a café by the road there. The girls were very impressed with the immaculate toilets with Villeroy and Boch fittings.

Just before we set off, we all gathered around and sang Charlie happy birthday, mortifying him in the process. Some of the others – Gary and Janina, I think – had organised and card and present of a caribiner and temporary tattoos.

Charlie turned 23 that morning, which is funny when you think that he was leading a group of 14 adults for two weeks, all of which were older than him, and some much older. I don’t think any of us ever felt that his age was a problem though, as he confidently lead us around the route. All the way around, we really enjoyed his stories about rock climbing, getting his summer mountain leader qualifications and mountaineering in general. I certainly never expected to be so steeped in mountaineering culture on this walk, but Charlie’s clear passion for it and the many points of conversation always looming high on the sky line meant that we came away wanting to learn more and more. Charlie was an excellent leader for the fortnight for lots of reasons … patience, confidence, passion, knowledge and the ability to take constant teasing from the more gobby members of the group.

Charlie

Charlie

From Issert, we walked through the valley of Val Ferret passing by lots of typical Swiss houses, through the village of Praz de Fort and up into the woods where we stopped for lunch. Once again, we bumped into the hotel lot here and they told us they had left a “Happy Birthday Charlie” sign in a card of gnomes along the way but we had completely missed it. Sure enough, though, looking back through our photos later we had actually taken a photo of the gnomes and the sign amongst them.

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Happy Birthday Charlie!

From there we descended a little and came out of the trees into the blazing afternoon heat and continued along towards La Fouly. When we stopped and re-grouped at a huge climbing slab just outside La Fouly, we were all pretty wrecked by the heat. This was probably the only day that the heat got to people since we were walking down low in the valley.

From there it was a short walk to the campsite at La Fouly, where we were camped right under the Glacier de l’A Neuve right beside a torrent of a river coming down from the glacier. We also had the use of a lovely communal log cabin where we could eat dinner and hang about in, which made a big difference.

After the usual tea, biscuits and crisps we put up the tent and flopped down in the sun for a snooze. Felicity, the youngest in the group at 25, even went and showed us all up in her bikini. Felicity was definitely one of the interesting characters in the group – blonde and petite, but fit and almost tomboyish … a dairy allergy but a huge appetitie … chatty and giggly but a casting engineer at Rolls Royce …

After showers, and margarita’s made by Gary, we had dinner of parma ham and melon to start, chicken satay for main and ice-cream and birthday cake for dessert. Even though the chicken satay was very nice, we were all jealous of Vanessa’s spicy vegetarian nachos which I polished off when she couldn’t finish them.

That night we got a deck of cards out, quaffed a fair bit of wine and played reduction and shithead with Brian, Zen and Janina until fairly late. Good fun!

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