Steve & Judy Pardoe welcome you to their
Tour of Mont Blanc 1999

The Tour of Mont Blanc, or TMB, is a 200 km (120 miles) hike around the Mont Blanc massif in the European Alps. The route crosses several high passes and takes the traveller through spectacular mountain scenery in France, Italy and Switzerland.

Total height gain is about 10,000 metres (33,000 feet), so the average gradient is a taxing 1:10. However, the normal route generally follows good paths, and there is a variety of inexpensive accommodation available, making light-weight hiking feasible.

This is our draft Photo Album from our "clockwise" TMB in August 1999. Our trip report with route details and logistics will appear on our main server, where you can also read our 1992 report.

We've also got a few pictures from our day hike in the Ecrins.

The start, Steve leaving the car parked at the La Breya chair lift just outside Champex. Parking in Switzerland seemed safer than in France or Italy

Judy passing our Gîte for the previous night, the Chalet Plein Air in Champex, where I was offered a free second helping of the plat du jour!

The Post Office at Champex, our formal start and finish

The typical Swiss signage for their footpaths. The ones with red and white flashes are mountain routes: ours for today is to "La Fouly 3h 50" at bottom right; we'd be returning via Arpette in ten days' time

Steve "champing at the bit" by Champex Lac...

...and finally out in the open in the Swiss Val Ferret, heading for La Fouly. The riverside path had been destroyed by floods and we struggled to find the higher one

Judy enjoying a beer at the Hotel des Glaciers, La Fouly...

...and some water next morning, on the way up to our balcony path...

...which follows the sunny west side of the valley: this is looking south. Perfect walking, or what?

If you have to be a pig, living up here and being fed on fresh Swiss milk must be as good as it gets

The spectacular view back down the Swiss Val Ferret, gained by a short diversion to the lower col (as mentioned by Harper)

Er, Alpine flowers?

Judy making our first border crossing, from Switzerland (behind her) to Italy at the Grand Col Ferret (2,537m)

Steve just over the col, with the mountains of the Italian/French frontier crest and Pre de Bar glacier behind

The new Rifugio Elena, Italian luxury at 2,062 metres

Ditto: the previous refuge was destroyed by avalanche, and the new one is built into the hilltop

Appropriately named toilet paper in our en-suite bathroom at the Elena

Judy and an Italian flag at sunset on the Elena balcony, with the equally Italian Val Ferret in the gloom below

Wake up, dear! Next morning, setting off down that long valley towards Courmayeur

Aaaah! thanks to our German friends for taking this

Elevenses at Secheron, as we climbed towards Mont de la Saxe, Mont Blanc soaring on the right, and tomorrow's Val Veny far away in the distance

Looking back up to the Elena and the Grand Col Ferret

Judy heading down to the Bertone refuge for lunch, and her inspired choice of "affettati" cold meats and even colder beer. Courmayeur is far below in the haze

Our hotel in Courmayeur, the Vieux Pommier, much quieter with the tunnel closed
Notre Dame de la Guerison and the Brenva Glacier, as we walked up the road into the Val Veny

Someone's dream house, overlooking the Val Veny and opposite Mont Blanc

Judy enjoying a wonderful lunch at the CAI/UGET Refugio Monte Bianco on our way up to Col Checruit. Miage Glacier and Col de la Seigne are behind her

More basic refreshment on the balcony beyond Checruit

One of many natural obstacles on the balcony path, approaching Harper's Corner. The views on this day were superb, and certainly justified the additional effort

Pride of the CAI: Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini nestling below the Tre-la-Tete

Judy in the oh-so-spacious dormitorio (not): room for six on that mattress?

Next morning we were up early and raced to the Col de la Seigne (2,516m) in well under guide time. This is our second, Italian/French frontier

Judy perched on the orientation table, looking back into Italy, Mont Blanc way above on the left

Looking down into France and the Val des Glaciers. Our next stop at Les Chapieux is way, way below

Judy descending from the Col de la Seigne, which seemed to take forever

The Mottets refuge, in the Val des Glaciers below the Col de la Seigne, where you can hire a donkey to carry your 'sac up. We settled for coffee and cakes

Les Chapieux, and the charming Auberge de la Nova. We arrived in time for an excellent lunch, and demi-pension was a real bargain. The lady who served our lunch offered to carry Judy's rucksack up to our room: Judy declined, in horror, but the lady explained that she was used to it as she'd climbed the Domes de Miage the previous day

Heading up towards the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme the following morning. We'd been dreading this climb, but in fact it was quite steady

The newly-extended CAF refuge at Croix, where we had hot chocolate. It looks a most hospitable place, and the kitchen smells were very tempting

The huge cairn at the Croix, just before it started to rain in earnest

Who the... is Alice? This is Judy on sentry duty at the Col du Bonhomme. The little shelter is where we'd, er, sheltered from the snow in 1992 before tackling the Col des Fours. Note the coat, the only time she wore it on this trip

Steve (also coated) looking worried as we left the Gite at la Balme after lunch. A large party had arrived on horseback and were treated to meat and fried potatoes, but we had to settle for omelettes

The attractive-looking Gite at Nant Borrant, which we passed rather reluctantly on our way down to les Contamines

The Roman road lower down the valley, still in use after two millennia. There's an original bridge nearby as well. Why does the M6 need digging up every couple of years?

The pretty chapel of Notre Dame de la Gorge

A photo of Judy in the Jacuzzi at the Hotel le Grizzli, les Contamines has been censored, there was less steam than I thought.
As well as the luxury bathroom, breakfast was superb, and the proprietor, Mr Franquet, could not have been more hospitable. A real bargain

Leaving les Contamines by the charming valley path, which winds through a number of picturesque villages. The Col du Bonhomme is on the skyline

Looking across the Chamonix valley from the Col de Voza to the Brevent

Les Houches, and our hotel "la Chavanne". This is the most popular start and finish point on the tour, at least for British visitors

Grim weather over Mont Blanc and the Bossons and Taconnaz glaciers, seen from the Petit Balcon Sud above Chamonix during our low-level day

Outside "La Couronne" in Argentiere. Again, we found excellent value in a village-centre hotel

Looking back towards Chamonix from the Posettes path above Le Tour. The dreadful avalanche in February destroyed a swathe of houses between Le Tour and Montroc

The notorious "Swiss Hotel" refuge at the Col de Balme. The lady who runs this place is remarkable. She actually looked younger than she had in 1992, but was no more welcoming when we asked for lunch. This was our last and lowest frontier crossing, back into Switzerland at a mere 2,191m

Taking a break on the everlasting balcony path between the Col de Balme and les Grands, which turned out to be closed. Trient and La Forclaz are way below...

Last overnight before Champex: the Hotel at Col de la Forclaz. We left Judy's 'sac here and came back for it next day, making the Fenetre d'Arpette variant a lot more enjoyable

On the long climb to the Fenetre d'Arpette, with the immense Trient Glacier behind. The views were exceptional...

...including this one back down the Trient valley. The long balcony path to Les Grands eventually crosses the slope opposite

At the top: the Fenetre d'Arpette (2,665m)

Last signs for us: all downhill from now on (but what a long hill!)

Nearly there: a last view back up the Val d'Arpette from near the Relais

That's all for now, don't forget to visit our our trip report with route details and logistics, on our main server.

Here's a list of contents of this domain, ...and to view our domain at, please click on the logo... Steve & Judy Pardoe
Cheshire, England
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