If you cruised the Tour of Mont Blanc and like camping then you will find this more challenging trek very enjoyable. Fantastic scenery, good food and very professionally organised by the leaders.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Fantastic mountain views every day (aided by the beautiful weather !) - the view from the Col Torrent must be one of the best in the Alps, if not the world.
Wide variety of colourful alpine flora, especially descending from the Col de Balme to Le Peuty via the northern route (which is much more interesting than the standard TMB path).
Day 7, when we crossed three 2660-2990m passes (Cols Termin, Louvie and Prafleurie) was the most challenging day but very rewarding as it provided both an interesting experience of high altitude glaciated terrain as well as a chance to get close to the Grand Dé sert glacier and an entertaining crossing of the glacial outflow river, which was wider and deeper than usual due to the hot weather.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Carey : very professional walk leader; GSOH, sensitive to individual client’s needs, tolerant but firm; good at organising trekkers who want to walk at different speeds; very knowledgeable about alpine flora.
Mark : enthusiastic, very well-organised, camp logistics and catering leader; enjoys (and is good at) cooking appetising meals for large numbers of hungry trekkers using limited facilities; even managed to convince me that it is possible to wash up without a dish-washer.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Take earplugs to help reduce the noise of snoring (not only in the huts - tents are not soundproof !!) and a clothes line. If, like me, you don‘t spend much of your life climbing hills, then put in a few days training in the weeks before you go to the Alps - being ‘uphill’ fit will greatly increase your enjoyment of this spectacular trek - I wish I had done more !
Make the most of the first day in Chamonix by taking the path directly from the camp site at les Bossons via Merlet and the Refuge de Bel Lachat to the summit of Le Brévent for magnificent views of the Mont Blanc range. Descend via the Col du Brévent (not the boring ski piste) to Planpraz where you can take the cable car back down to Chamonix to avoid about 1000m of rather tedious descent. This was a good way to ‘limber-up’ and it made the first two days of the trek seem quite easy.
The scheduled route on Day 13 is quite short so it is well worthwhile extending the walk by ascending from the coffee stop at Tufteren to the Fluealp hut for drinks and good views of the Findel glacier. Descend via the path that runs along the edge of the lateral moraine down to Gant, then on to the picturesque hamlet of Findeln before the final descent back to Zermatt. For an epic final day, take the cable car from Zermatt to Schwarzee then do the 2 hour climb up to the Hörnli hut (3260m) for lunch and some impressive close-up views of the Matterhorn. Descend via the track to Stafel (good place for a drink), Zmutt and thence to Zermatt. The sign posting is good on all these routes.
Including these options gives about 13,800m of ascent and 14,600m of descent in 12 days - readily achievable with a bit of effort by a 63 year old uphill plodder.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Apart from the fantastic scenery and beautiful weather, enjoyment of this trek was, as usual, greatly enhanced by the qualities of the leaders and by the companionship of a diverse group of interesting ‘clients’.