This first section of the Tour of Mont Blanc is an uninspiring uphill slog to the Col de Voza and you could be forgiven for wondering what on earth the fuss is all about, but you have to get away from the town somehow.
The stage starts with a straightforward road section from Les Houches railway station to the cable car. It begins to steepen beyond the cable car station, but at this point it’s still on asphalt roads. It levels out as it passes through a small village and then leads on to a teleski station (Maison Neuve), where the road peters out. Here the path becomes really steep without any zigzags to take the sting out of the gradient.
We passed a few small ski cafés but they were only open in the winter months. At this point the rain came back with venom, so we took shelter under the roof awning of the Chalet du Terrain and ate our picnic lunch while we watched the mist roll in across the valley. It wasn’t a place to linger – we were soon engulfed by cloud and the temperature dropped, making us colder by the minute.
After lunch the weather started to clear and when we could finally see our noses in front of our faces we realised that we were actually quite close to the Col de Voza.
A quick walk got us there in increasingly better weather. The hotel was almost deserted – not surprising given the rain.
An easy short climb alongside the Tramway du Mont Blanc took us to Bellevue cable car station. The forecast for the next day was not great either, low cloud but at least there would be no heavy rain, so we decided go for it and start the TMB.
We returned to Chamonix, bought a 2 week car parking ticket, set the alarm for 6:30AM and went out for a fondue. The late evening weather forecast at the Bureau des Guides warned of early fog but later the cloud level would lift to 2500m – higher than the Col du Tricot, so we decided to stick to our plan and take the high variant.