Walking the TMB across France, Italy and Switzerland.

topofhill1 My friend Frank and I decided to go to the Alps and walk the Tour de Mont Blanc.The walk is a total of 230 miles and ascends and descends a total of 30,000 feet over 3 countries.
Unfortunately, due to poor planning by me, we ended up arriving in Geneva, after the last bus had left.I helpful woman at the booking desk got us a room in the Ibis (just near the Airport, and walkable to Geneva).We used to opportunity for a quick kit check, and then headed into Geneva for a few Beers. kitcheck
csbar We got the bus the next day to Chamonix, then walked to our camp site.The camp site was very well run (as most European ones are) but the guy in charge was nasty most of the time, and I didn’t know (and after a while care) why.This is the campsite restaurant/bar, which we visited a couple of times.
Frank and I wandered around the mountaineering Mecca, Chamonix and have lunch. lunch1
meredglass The Mere de Glass, an enormous glacier in Chamonix. Its name literally means sea of ice.Its possible to get a train from the valley, up to here. Its spectacular to look at, but I feel is spoiled by a silly ice museum with Piano’s and Chairs made of ice.I just don’t think a site of breathtaking natural beauty needs this, its a distraction.
Just to show how things change/don’t change.This is a picture of the bar balcony, overlooking the Mere de Glass, when I first visited the alps aged 23. then
now This is a picture of the bar balcony, overlooking the Mere de Glass, when I visited it on the Tour de Mont Blanc, aged 35.
Gaillands: a famous rock climbing crag on the edge of Chamonix town, by woods and lakes. chamclimb
tram We set off on the TMB, from Chamonix.We got the train and tram, to the Col de Voza and set off (we decided that the walk from Chamonix to the Col de Voza would make an interesting day walk and picnic, when we got back).
After a few hours on the trial, we come to a wire bridge, and I get a picture of Frank crossing it. bridgefrance
onthehill1 After an awful night in one of the huts (Frank was snoring, but had earplugs in, so he couldn’t hear it, but the 50 other people we were lay next to could !).Enough about that, we got up early, the sun was shining, and we began walking into Italy.
As we crossed the “border” (there was only a sign, no guards, or diplomats, or anything like that)We descended down the side of a hill, and you could hear a glacier breaking up, across the valley. One of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. italy1
onthehill2 Me pausing on the trail in Italy.
The new Rifugio Elena.The view from the balcony was beautiful, and we sat out all afternoon, drinking beer. We decided to get an on-suite room as “communal living”, wasn’t really us.The previous refuge here was destroyed by avalanche, and the new one is half-buried in the hillside. hutview
italy2 Off all the places we passed on our travels, I thought that Italy was the most inspiring.Around my neck I am wearing a perry whistle and a mini torch on some “Para” cord.In Raiders of the lost Ark, you see Indiana Jones, put a hat, a gun, and a bull whip into his suitcase and you know the adventure has begun.

When I put on my whistle and torch, I feel the same!

 We cross into Switzerland, and pause for a photograph, a drink and a sit down. frank
bridgeswiss  Crossing a bridge in Switzerland. The water was a lot cleaner than the stuff in Chamonix.
We arrive in Champex exhausted.Because we decided to do the TMB in 7 days, we were walking 2 suggested legs each day, rather than 1, and most of the time arrived after 7pm, when all of the cheap accommodation was goneIt turned out to be a blessing this time, as there were only rooms available in the most expensive hotel, and it was like a picture postcard. champexlake
balcbeer Frank sits on the Balcony, and has a Beer, while I have a shower.We sat out on the balcony all evening (it overlooked the town and the lake).
 Having completed the walk, we have a celebration drinking session, back in Chamonix. frank3

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