You may ask why we chose to do so after already hiking for so long? Well the reasoning was quite simple. As I mentioned yesterday we had decided to take on the first few stages of the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route in reverse and in doing so complete the Tour du Mont Blanc as well (as we had read about by how stunning this part of the shared route was). However, when we saw poor weather forecast for tomorrow we wanted to see as much of the route as possible, so planned our own hybrid 9 hour walk, with around 2000m of climbing.....complicated by the fact we had no food or fuel left so would have to squeeze in a grocery detour as well. Phew!
We set off around 9.30, with the super early starts of most hikers still eluding us (our camping was almost empty when we got up!) But we then climbed the 900m or so to Col du Balme at such a pace as to pass many of them and arrive in just an hour and half. The climb had been beautiful but the top was incredible. With clear blue skies the summit of Mont Blanc was brilliantly on display.
Continuing swiftly we descended at pace and then up again to cross the Aiguillettes des Posettes at around 2200m, pausing to finish our final rations of oats and water with more jaw dropping views as Glacier du Tours was now in sight.
The weather was hot by now so the 1000m descent to Argentiere in search of food was pretty tiring, but fresh fruit and other tasty food soon perked us up as we happily discovered a well stocked selection of organic food including chilled coconut water.
By now it was mid afternoon and we'd covered what was supposed to be a 6 hour stage in just 4 hours of walking so were feeling quite energised. We caught the bus back to Col des Montets at around 1500m and after finishing dinner set off at 5pm to climb another 700m to meet the Balcon Sud route which promised more spectacular views.
We weren't disappointed. Not only did we enjoy the promised views of Glacier Tours, Glacier Argentiere and the Mer du Glace, but we got up close and personal with some incredibly relaxed Ibex some of which had 5 young in tow! It was amazing.
By almost 9pm we were finally starting to flag and having just reached Lac Chesery at 2200m we decided to call it a day and pitched our little tent overlooking the glacier studded Mont Blanc massif. Gathering cloud was blowing through by now adding to the brooding mood in the valley and as we sat wrapped up, brewing tea on our alcohol stove and with me eating hot porridge far above the noise of the towns and cars below we felt very at home in the hills together.
All that was left to do was a wild irrigation for me and then it was off to bed....although I will have to save the story of my corresponding nocturnal encounter with 2 very large, very close and very intimidating Ibex with 18 inch horns for another time. Let's just say it was not a good time to have my trousers around my ankles in the dark!
More photos of our Tour du Mont Blanc in our Google Album