Refuge La Boerne – Chamonix
Friday 21st August 2020
“Life is not measured by the number of breathes we take, but by the moments and places that take our breath away”
We have been greeted with forests, barren rocky terrain and vast green valleys, a real mix of wild landscapes and snowy peaks, each day different to the next.
Whilst trekking the TMB you hike up some seriously high elevations, stay in remote mountain huts and descend into deep valleys, home to charming villages and towns.
Jagged snow covered peaks, wide Alpine meadows, bursting with wildflowers and deep torquoise lakes accompany us on this epic trek where every day rewards us with outstanding scenery.
The trail itself is a rich, intoxicating cocktail of colour and smell and sound.
And so we leave Refuge La Boerne and begin our final day of TMB.
The hike starts gently uphill through a wooded (slightly shady) forest which is a relief from the glaring sun.
We continue climbing up a steep path where eventually we break out of the trees for unrivalled scenery on our left of the Mont Blanc massif.
We have been blessed with amazing weather throughout our trek and today, our last day was the hottest which meant we had spectacular vistas that this section shares.
We hike in full sunshine with a huge crag above us. The path winds back and forth to then skirt the crag on the approach to the famous Aiguillette d’Argentiere.
It’s another uphill hike from the start point before the pinnacle, Aiguillette d’Argentiere (1893m) comes into view. This iconic monolithic slab of rock is a popular climbing spot and it’s a great place to take a rest and watch with awe as nimble climbers make their ascents.
There are two routes to take up here so we have chosen the high route which involves crossing some of the mountain range on ladders!
Yes ladders I said…this route takes in the famous TMB metal ladders to navigate over some of the vertical rock crags which really spices up this part of the route.
Obviously there’s only room for one person to negotiate the ladder each way so it’s a waiting game until the ladders are clear.
There are 9 ladders in total, I counted, as well as various sections of metal handrails and steps to navigate the crag.
This route gives fantastic birds eye views over Argentiere, 800 metres below and stunning vistas over to Mont Blanc, it’s idyllic, fabulous and peaceful.
We continue our uphill climb until we reach a large cairn, Tête aux Vents (2132m) which marks the edge of the national park.
From there the trail descends and winds down to the ski slopes of La Flegere.
The landscape here which has opened up into something much more dramatic with the Alps in full view, pushing into the sky ahead of us like snow-capped castle turrets in some kind of fairytale land is stunning.
I am standing stock-still on a twisting path high above Chamonix. All around me are the soaring peaks of the Mont Blanc massif and I am at my most happiest.
I always feel a connection of some sort in places like this, some kind of inner tranquility, a place of calm contemplation – some might say spiritual if you are that way inclined…I could stay in this spot forever.
We continue walking along the Grand Balcon Sud and have more jaw dropping views all the way along over to Mont Blanc and the Bosson’s glacier, it’s unmissable.
The majestic beauty of the scenery is best appreciated on foot as we walk point to point each day.
Needless to say though our end is in sight. We have walked over a total hiking distance of 170 km or 110 miles (taking into consideration we went extra miles to reach Robert Blanc Refuge) and climbed 10,146 metres which is higher than Everest.
I experience a strange sense of ambivalence, a feeling of triumph tinged with sadness that our adventure has almost come to an end and that our little TMB bubble is about to burst…I don’t want to leave these views or this walk.
It’s been pleasant walking together, chatting good heartedly at times and walking in comfortable silence at others.
I always find long distance walking itself a form of meditation, an encounter that leaves me changed in some small way and TMB has certainly done that for sure.
It’s been a great personal achievement which has offered superb and varied mountain scenery.
TMB remains a wonderful route, with such outstanding beauty and deeply impressive mountain scenery. It is for sure one of the greatest journeys in the world.
Mont Blanc is by no doubt one of the most beautiful massifs of the Alps and the Tour Du Mont Blanc one of the most iconic walks in the world through an area that is full to bursting with stories to remember. Seven Valleys, Seven Glaciers and 400 peaks; Mont Blanc is fascinating.
Trekking around the ‘Top of Europe’ has meant discovering an incomparable universe of High Mountains and breath-taking shows of the closest of glaciers.
This trip was a break from ‘normal’ life. The daily freedom of mountain hiking welcomed. Our days passed in a familiar pattern. We crossed from France, to Switzerland to Italy with little change.
Each day we climbed high and each night slept in our remote mountain huts. In the evening we enjoyed delicious French, Italian and Swiss meals paired with a hearty serving of such great hospitality in the traditional alpine villages/hamlets we stayed in.
Whether standing on the valley floor or crossing a panoramic pass, the magnitude and beauty of this wilderness region will definatley leave an impression on you.
“I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life your proud of. If you find that your not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again”.