Day Ten

Day notes

We stayed in a double room in the Auberge de Boerne in Tré-le-Champ, so we can’t comment on the dorms. The food was good and there is a lovely garden to relax in after your day’s effort.

However you break up this stage, don’t be tempted to stay at the Col de Balme unless you are sure that there is a new guardian running the place.

Diary -Wednesday July 21

Col de la Forclaz – La Peuty – Col de Balme – Col des Posettes – L’Aiguillette des Posettes – Tré-le-Champ

The hotel owner was right – we awoke to clear blue skies and not a hint of rain in sight. After a quick breakfast we packed our dry clothes. Putting our wet boots back on wasn’t so pleasant.

image: Glacier du TrientWe decided to take the shorter route to the Col de Balme, rather than retracing our steps to Chalet du Glacier, so we headed down the road to La Peuty. The footpath cuts across the zigzagging bends of the road and soon you are crossing the campsite in the valley floor. If you go a little further on you can reach Trient where you can stock up on food for the day, but we decided to get lunch at the Col de Balme. From here we could see back up the Trient Glacier towards the Fenêtre d’Arpette where a dusting of snow had appeared overnight.

image: Path to Col de Balme

From La Peuty the path climbs through the forest, emerging out of the trees into the hanging valley of Nant Noir. It was already very hot and the climb up the valley side, although not steep, was quite hard work. A track begins at some buildings (Herbagères) and winds its way up to the Col de Balme on the Swiss/French border.

We arrived at 11:30AM, but decided to stop at the refuge for lunch anyway as there’s no real option to get food further on. The old Andrew Harper guide warns that the lady guardian was very grumpy and should not be crossed. We’d also been warned about her by a guide at the Forclaz who called her ‘a bear’. Surely she couldn’t be as bad as all that?

image: Col de Balme refugeWe soon found out when we tried to order some sandwiches. “Can’t you read the notice? We don’t serve food until 12 noon. Are you stupid or something?” she snapped.

With some difficulty we managed to come to an arrangement where we had our beer straight away and the sandwiches would be brought as soon it was 12 o’clock. So there was no option but to sit in the sun and enjoy the views. You can see down the Chamonix valley to Mont Blanc from here and the view of the rocky Aiguilles and snow capped peaks is magnificent.

After lunch we contoured around the hillside behind the refuge. The area has been developed for skiing in the winter and in summer the landscape is scarred with tracks for snow ploughs and many ski-lifts (one of the lifts is operational if you need a fast way to the valley floor).

image: Summit of Aiguillette des PosettesThe track leads easily around to the Col des Posettes, where it climbs onto the rocky ridge of l’Aiguillette des Posettes. The ridge is slightly exposed, but has amazing views of the Chamonix Aiguilles and looks straight up the Glacier du Tour to Aiguille du Chardonnet. At the end of the ridge is a cairn marking the Tête du Chenavier and from here the path descends steeply. There are logs across the path in many sections, forming a sort of stairway. It’s quite an amazing path as it always appears as though the path drops away ahead – you can just see the valley floor below, but when you get to that point the path shows itself again (sort of false summits in reverse). It was getting even hotter, and we were glad of the shade when the path reached the tree line and began to wind its way through the forest.

image: La BoerneAfter a while we reached the road on the Col des Montets where there is a visitor centre. We headed the other way down a track beside the road and were soon in the Tré-le-Champ at the Auberge de Boerne. This is a nice place to stay with accommodation in barns that have been converted into rooms and a dortoir. The place was pretty full, and there weren’t many others who were doing the TMB but there was a friendly atmosphere over dinner.

The forecast was for another glorious day tomorrow and we tried to work out our options. In theory we could finish completely but it would be a long day, otherwise we could break the day at the refuge Bellachat. We would decide on the way.

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