Tour du Mont Blanc :: Planpincieux to Val Veny

This morning, we were up again before 07:00 and ready to get back into the business of walking around the Mont Blanc Massif. This was by far the coldest morning, and we all stood about freezing once we had everything packed up.

By 09:00 we set off along an unmarked path up to a col on the Mont de la Saxe where we took our time over lunch in the sunshine and enjoyed the views of the Massif from this side, getting a good view of the Grandes Jorasses, for example. From there we descended to the Refuge Bértone and started the steep and seemingly endless descent into Courmayer.

On this last stretch, Catherine and I just tried to keep up with Vanessa as she jogged, skipped and jumped her way down the path. Vanessa, originally from Africa but teaching in Wales for years, was the oldest in our group in her fifties, was a real inspiration throughout the trip. Quietly spoken, but great fun, she seemed incredibly fit for her age. She had just completed her first marathon a few months before the trip and seemed to take every day’s walk entirely in her stride.


Vanessa

Vanessa

Once we reached the outskirts of Courmayer, we just strolled along admiring all the posh houses that would really make you wonder about the kind of houses we build in Ireland and the UK. In Courmayer, we met outside a church which was displaying a photographic history of the cable cars crossing the Massif. Some amazing photos of an incredible achievement when you consider the kind of gear that climbers wear when going up there these days.

Once re-grouped, we had a lovely ice-cream from an ice-cream shop and caught the bus to our campsite in Val Veny. Gary and I had been considering walking the TMB route from Courmayer to the campsite, but we were weary after the descent and Charlie reckoned it would take too long and we wouldn’t get much out of it.


Omar, Dean, Brian and Gary

Omar, Dean, Brian and Gary

At the campsite, we were pretty shocked to see that Brian – who had taken another rest day to give his shins a chance to recover – had pitched all our tents for us. Very grateful, we all just plonked ourselves down in the sun and I caught up with my journal which felt like a few weeks homework by the time I’d finished.

After showers, we headed down to a restaurant in a nearby campsite and had a few beers on the terrace before dinner. Dinner itself started with cold meats, followed by either sausage and polenta, or tagliatelle, or crépes for main and apple strudel or chocolate pudding for dessert. After dinner, Brian and I stayed around to play some cards. Once I’d beaten him a couple of times, he quickly gave that up as a bad lot and we ordered another litre of wine. Eventually, they kicked us out onto the terrace where we finished our wine and got into deep drunken gossipy conversation before heading back to our tents.

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