Just outside Chamonix in France. Wonderful views from the campsite of Mont Blanc and the dramatic crevassed Glacier des Bossons (especially at sunset). Those not flying with the group join us at the campsite (see 'Airport Transfers' above). In the evening there is an introductory briefing by the trek crew.
From Les Bossons (1,012m) we have a short bus journey to Chamonix from where we walk to Les Praz and take the téléférique to La Flégère (1,900 m). The trail today is named the 'Grand Balcon' and is on the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc, affording excellent views of the whole massif lying to our south. Initially we contour and then climb to reach the high point of the day, Lac Blanc (2,352 m). The trail descends and then contours high above the valley before dropping steeply to the hamlet of Les Frasserands (1,371m). In the afternoon there is a very short section of ladders/steep steps with handrails to descend. (France).
We begin by climbing steeply to the Aiguillette de Posettes (2201m), descend a little and then ascend towards the Col de Balme (2,191m) where we walk across the border from France to Switzerland. Excellent views all morning of Aiguille d'Argentiere and Aiguille du Tour and its glacier. After lunch we descend to the small hamlet of Trient (1,296m). Good views of the Trient Glacier. Rough camp near Trient. (Switzerland).
This is a longer walking day. We climb first to the Col de Forclaz (1,525m) from where we can look directly down into the Rhône valley and the Swiss town of Martigny. Following the 'Bovine route' (2,049m) we walk through high alpine pastures to the charming town of Champex (1,486m) set beside a picturesque alpine lake.
Now on the east side of the main Mont Blanc massif we walk south, descending through woods to the Val Ferret and on to Issert (1,055m) and other small, pretty alpine farming villages. This is also quite a good day for flowers earlier in the season, including orchids. We continue up the valley to La Fouly (1,593m). This lies at the foot of Mt. Dolent, whose summit marks the meeting point of France, Switzerland and Italy.
Still following the same valley and the river 'La Drance', we pass the hamlet of Ferret and then climb to the 'Grand Col Ferret' (2,536m), the highest pass on the trek. We have stunning views from the pass of the south side of the Mont Blanc massif particularly of the Grandes Jorasses. Now in Italy, the valley is also called 'Val Ferret', and we continue down to Planpincieux (1,600m).
The nearby ex-spa towns of Courmayeur and Entrèves have picturesque older sections, which are worth a visit, especially for the keen photographer. There is a téléférique from Entrèves to Point Helbronner (3,461m) and on across the glacier to Aiguille du Midi (and in fact on down to Chamonix). This is a splendid (optional) excursion, which gives close-up views of all the big peaks.
We climb steeply from the valley to Mont de la Saxe (2,346m). The views of the south Mont Blanc massif are exceptional as are those of the towering and rocky peak 'Grandes Jorasses' and the glaciers which crowd the northern flank of the Val Ferret. Look for reflections of the mountains in small ponds along the ridge on early season treks. This is also a particularly good day for wild flowers. We make a longish steep descent initially on an old mule track to Courmayeur (1,230m) from where we take a short bus ride into the spectacular Val Veny.
The trail climbs gently along the Val Veny beneath the moraine of the massive glacier du Miage and passes Lac Combal before the gradient becomes steeper as we follow the old Roman road across today's pass, the 'Col de la Seigne' (2,516m), marking our re-entry into France. A fairly steep descent brings us through La Ville des Glaciers (1,789m) and finally to Les Chapieux (1,553m), a small hamlet which is only inhabited in the summer months. This is one of the longer walking days.
We have now reached the southwest corner of the circuit and turn north to climb once again. First we make a steep climb to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2,478m) and then contour around to the Col du Bonhomme (2,328m). We then descend (again on a Roman road) into the Val Montjoie.
There are short and long optional walks in the area. Time can be spent visiting the half-day market in Les Contamines, or one can simply relax around the town.
We walk through Les Contamines, ascend to Chalets du Truc (1,720m) and then descend to the Chalets de Miage (1,560m). From here we take the trail that climbs steeply to the Col de Tricot (2,119m) before descending very close to the snout of the Glacier de Bionnassay. Good views of the north of Mont Blanc massif. Eventually we make another short ascent to reach the Col de Voza (1,652m) where we re-enter the Chamonix Valley and descend to the village of Les Houches before reaching our camp in Les Bossons (1,012m).
We cross to the north side of the Chamonix valley and climb through pine forest. The high point of the day is Brevent (2,525m) from where there are panoramic views of the Mont Blanc Massif and the Chamonix valley. We descend to Plan Praz and then descend by téléférique to Chamonix and then on to Les Bossons and to our original campsite (1,012m). This is a long walking day but probably affords the best views of Mont Blanc and its neighbours of the whole trek.
Free day at Les Bossons (near Chamonix). There are several good walks around Chamonix. There are also spectacular (optional) excursions by téléférique or mountain railway. Other optional activities in the area include tandem paragliding, canyoning and mountain biking.
End Les Bossons.