Tour du Mont Blanc 2019

15 September 2019 | 0 comments

Team Ibex in a snowstorm at 2516m Col de la Seigne

Ramblers ‘team ibex’ were well named. Grade 8? Vertiginous paths? 1700m of ascent? Ladders? Snow and hail? They smashed it all. Clearly, no hazard was going to get in the way of this bunch enjoying their holiday, I have never seen such smiles in the middle of a snowstorm. Or were they all just a little bit bonkers?

From England, USA, Norway and Australia, our international team was ‘at one’ with the mountains:

Ole with the Norwegian long legs, loped effortlessly across the terrain.

Lisen, our fungi expert, told us of all things mushroom, always skipping on ahead, despite being the seniorest ‘senior’ of the group.

Ross, super knowledgeable on the environment, especially the water critters, found the mama frog and kept our spirits high.

Tyrell of gentle demeanour and steely determination

Andy, world class duathlete, kept us on track with all our statistics and IT.

Jean, trans America cyclist, undaunted

Gordon and Julie, Aussie world travellers extraordinaires, with amazing stories to tell.

Chris, drama schooled, of impeccable taste and wonderful sense of timing, kept us well entertained with his dead pan wind ups.

Snowy, small owl, travels far. May feature in future bestselling childen’s storybooks. Narrowly escaped the Swiss Axegnome.

Our walks were as stunning as always, the pictures tell the story. The surprises and memorable moments are many:

Day one, cooling toes

Cooling our toes in the mountain stream below the waterfall, gazing at the Mont Blanc panorama from the Grand Balcon Sud, on our first walk. Why not?

Our massive TMB variante walk via Bonnatti reffuggio and Col Sapin, along the ridge above Refuge Bertone, fighting our way down through the lively herds of sheep, goats and dogs.

The mushroom trail, on the way down from Champex Lac, super fun and informative.

Day 3, Alp Bovine

Cake at the Alp Bovine, looking over into Switzerland and the Bernese Oberland. A great deal of moooing.

Ascent in Swiss Val Ferret

Our magical ascent up the Italian Val Ferret, one minute we are in cloud, then the clearing of the morning mist reveals all, including our view back to our splendid Hotel Splendide.

The top of the Courmayeur cable car, mountains like a film, cloud moving all the time

The wild berries, many a blueberry, crowberry, raspberry and strawberry.

The Brévent ridge walk of the final day snow capped mountains, snow underfoot.

The Final Day. All Team Ibex, Mont Blanc beyond.

Plenty of fat, cheeky marmots ready for hibernation.

On top of the world on the Col Grand Ferret in glorious sunshine, eating the splendid local cheese.

The flowers…the carline thistles opening and closing on cue, the bearded bellflowers, the yellow saxifrage and st John’s wort, and even a late bright blue gentian.

The mirror lake in full glory followed by the snowstorm on the top of the Col de la Seigne.

Bouton d’Or breakfast cakes

The cheese fondue and all other things cheesy…and chocolatey…Italian ice cream…affogato….

A few lovely churches to see

A gorgeous gorge

A lot of cake

Ross’s bell and Chris’s hat

Having watched and marvelled at the ability of the Ultra runners of the UTMB, careering around the route in 20 or 40 hours non stop, we were a little humbled, walking the route in 10 days of elapsed time, although our actual walking time was a mere 67 hours. However, the UTMB runners did not have to cope with the challenge of the now named GTMB (Gourmet TMB) where cake, pizza and Bouton d‘Or breakfasts were de rigeur. Just as well there was no weigh in/weigh out on this trip! Great fun.


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