My third day on TMB and very much a day of two (unequal) halves, with a challenging start in acceptable weather, and an easy downhill mainly on roads in the pouring rain for the rest of the day.
I started with stunning sunrise views from the incredible Refuge Robert Blanc, 2,750m up the mountainside. The effort of getting there the evening before was forgotten in appreciation of this special place.
I’d heard horror stories from others in the refuge who’d come up from Col de la Seigne, rather than La Ville des Glaciers, from where I had come. As I came down from the refuge I could understand what they meant, but thankfully plenty of New Zealand experience came in useful, ensuring that I didn’t freak out, I just took it carefully.
The track cuts across the base of the oddly named Glacier des Glaciers, with lots of rocks and gullies to cross, some requiring the use of handy chains and ropes to aid. To be fair they were easier to climb up than come down as the people last night had to do.
The gnarliest section was right at the end, above this striking zig zag track. Here there was just enough width on each ledge for a boot, and a rather large drop off below, so they’ve installed what felt like about 100m of wire to hold onto.
Luck was on my side thankfully as I’d just finished this section to reach the Col de la Seigne (marking the border between France and Italy) when the rain forecast for noon arrived two hours early. It was seemingly timed with the arrival of hoards of people from
Refuge Des Mottets, who rapidly had to don their ponchos and raincoats to fend off the torrential downpour.
It’s a new addition to my hiking equipment but I was very glad that I brought my umbrella, which was perfect for fending off the worst of the water, and allowing me to take photos keeping my camera dry.
Despite the rain there were still nice views down the valley, aided by these pink wild flowers, a relatively common sight along the TMB.
The rain eased a little to allow me to take some classic Alps photos of cows with bells around their necks, on a mountainside, with a glacier and building behind.
The building was the understandingly bustling Refuge Elisabetta, a good spot for an early lunch. The sun came out on the walk up to it, lighting up these farmhouses / abandoned buildings.
Thankfully from here to my accommodation at Refuge Monte Bianca there is a bad weather option of walking down the road, rather than taking to the cloudy and wet hills above. Not very inspiring to walk but it still offered views of huge mountains and glaciers to my left on the way to the refuge.