Day two walking the Tour Du Mont Blanc was one of the hardest but most rewarding days I’ve had hiking, involving over 2,600m of ascent (in two sections), 1,400m of descent, and around 24km of distance in 8 hours. I was completely shattered by the time I’d finished the second and final 1,000m ascent to my refuge for the night, but was rewarded with epic views for much of the day.
Which started with atmospheric dawn views of Les Contamines below, seen from the wonderful Refuge de Tré la Tête.
From here it was a 500m descent close to Refugo Nant Borrant, before starting a steady climb of over 1,300m to one of the highest points on the TMB. I hit rush hour with streams of people ahead, which can happen in the mornings, but people tend to spread out along the track as the day goes on.
The views started to improve up toward the 1,706m Refugo de la Balme.
At the Plan Jovet I saw a sign to Refuge Robert Blanc, my booked accommodation for the night. Despite it appearing to be a fairly major shortcut from my plan I decided against it once I’d checked the map. It basically involved going straight over the top of the sizeable mountains in the distance. Without a better map and locator beacon I didn’t think it was worth the risk. One advantage of hiking solo is that I’m very cautious…
The first but not last mountain bike I saw on the TMB. It’s hard enough to walk! Though sections also seemed to be popular with people walking their dogs, and carrying babies!
The views continued to improve as I headed up to 2,329m Col du Bonhomme, passing a large patch of snow that had survived the summer.
From the col the track headed off to the left and further up to the 2,665m Col des Fours, with ever more spectacular views all around.
The best though, or at least most panoramic were found another hundred metres up, at the 2,756m Tete Nord Des Fours.
The wonders continued though on the descent down to the abandoned farm buildings of Les Turfs, with colour all around.
After descending a thousand metres down to the base of the valley at La Ville des Glaciers I filled up with some much needed water. By then it was nearly 4pm and I had a thousand metre climb up to Refuge Robert Blanc. If you look closely in the middle of the last photo, taken using the maximum zoom on my camera you’ll seen the refugee. Amazingly this refuge was the same height as Tete Nord Des Fours, 2,750m up.
It was a tough climb to reach though, during which I seriously questioned whether I’d make it as my pace slowed and the track got ever steeper and rockier, though the views back down the valley were pretty good…
Finally the surreal sight of a three story wooden and concrete box came into sight.
This was home for eighteen guest and two staff for the evening, with a three course dinner provided (soup, pasta, chocolate cake), and comfortable beds. It was far less cold than expected at that altitude, with no wind.
Thankfully I made it there by 6pm, with time to sort myself out before dinner at 7pm. One couple arrived after 8pm looking white, after coming up the way I was going to descend tomorrow (there are a few ways to reach the refuge), with talk of ropes, chains and mountaineering skills required, sounded ominous…