Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tour du Mont Blanc early season 2017

The summer season is now upon us and it has been an amazing start to the season so far.
After a fairly snowless winter season & a very warm spring for the first time in 4 years we have very little snow on the trails which is great news. During June we make our annual recce to key places on the Tour du Mont Blanc to see what the trail conditions are like so we can advise our clients that will arrive to trek early season.

16 June 2017 at the Col du Bonhomme: Small patches of snow on the way up to the Col above 2000m none of these pose a problem and no specialist kit is required.
Below the Col du Bonhomme
Between the Col du Bonhomme and Col de Croix de Bonhomme small patches of snow on the traverse, care needs to be taken when crossing the snow patches in case if a slip or fall.

Col du Fours: there is still a fair amount of snow on either side of the Col, on the Ville des Glaciers side of the Col where the ground is steeper care needs to be taken as the snow extends from the Col at 2665m to approx 2000m.

Walking poles are advised when crossing or descending on large areas of snow cover.
Col du Seigne: Patches of snow on the lead up to the Col & on the Italian side.

20 June 2017 Grand Col Ferret: Small patches of snow in the gullies leading up to the Refuge Elena but none of these pose a problem. No snow on the trail leading up to the Col. Some snow on the Swiss side but as the descent is more gentle these done pose a problem.

Grand Col Ferret
Col du Bonhomme from the Plan des Dames
Fenetre d’Arpette is not advised until a few weeks in to July due to the steep terrain epithet side of the Col.

Bovine route between Champex & Trient is snow free as with the Col du Balme. Snow still lies in north facing slopes & in shady spots.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New guided trek dates 2017

New dates for our Tour du Mont Blanc and Haute Route for Summer 2017 are online now.

Visit our website at www.montblanctreks.com

Early booking discount of £25 per person for all bookings received before the 30 October 2016. 

For further information contact: info@montblanctreks.com

Monday, January 25, 2016

Traverse of the Gran Paradiso guided trek 2015

In 2014 we decided to look for an alternative multi day trek in our local area that would provide challenging progression and something a little different from the Tour du Mont Blanc and Walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. We didn't have to look far and the Alta Via 2 Traverse of the Gran Paradiso made for a fantastic trek. After recceing the trek during the summer of 2014 we decided to offer this in 2015 as a guided trek and self-guided.

As we knew that the trek was rigorous trek with our guided option we decided to offer this to previous clients whom we knew would be capable of the difficult and challenging terrain.

So on August 11th 2015 we met in Chamonix and provided a transfer through to Courmayeur for the group. We enjoyed a trek briefing over dinner and at 9am we were on our way by minibus transfer to the start of the trek in Champorcher at the far end of the Aosta valley.

Day 1: The first day takes you from the remote village of Champorcher up and over the Fentre de Champorcher 2828m to the Refuge Peradza. We had such a friendly welcome.... free shoulder & neck massages whilst we had our recovery beer! And delicious food and wine later in the evening.

Day 2: A long day ahead starting with a decent from the refuge to Lillaz and then along the valley bottom to Cogne. Lunch stop of panini and cappuccino before making our way to Vanotey & then a fairly steep ascent to Refuge Vittoria Sella at 2584m.

Day 3: Promised to be interesting as we had had snow overnight! We had to ascend over the Col Lauson, which is the highest & most delicate Col on the trek at 3299m, which is high by any alpine trekking standards. The group were fit and coped well with the terrain after a short sharp 800m ascent we were up and over and making our long descent to Eaux Rousses in the Valsavarenche valley.

Day 4: With the weather improving we made our way initially through larch woodland to the Alpage of Orvieille a perfect location for a rest stop whilst we watched the Marmots playing. It never ceases to amaze me just how much wildlife you see in the Gran Paradiso in comparison to other alpine areas, such abundance of Marmots, Chamois & Ibex and because the area is so quiet & devoid of human beings they don't seem to mind you being around. From here we made our way steeply at times to the Col Entrelor 3007m a tricky descent down into our next valley & to the beautiful village of Rhemes Notre Dame.

Day 5: Our Col for the day was the foreboding Col Fenetre 2840m... The group had seen it the day before from the descent of the Col Entrelor. The final ascent to the Col Fenetre is so very steep as the path works its way up into such a tight gully looks impossible from a distance. Once into the gully it's fine and the zigzag path is good, progress is made quickly due to the gradient, which I would suspect is perhaps 50% at times. As often happens if one side of the Col is steep and narley the other is more serene and the descent from Col is lovely & so picturesque winding down past the refuge L’Epee, which provides a great rest stop with delicious food & coffee. Traversing for a while with fabulous views of the Valgrisenche valley before descending into the larch woodland and down to our accommodation for the night at Bonne.

Day 6: Starts easily as we made our way through the Valgrisenche valley bottom to the village of Planval & the last chance for a cappuccino before our ascent of the Col Crosatie 2838m. This is my favorite Col of the trek the terrain is truly wild and remote as the views from the top are just majestic looking out to Mont Blanc, the big Swiss 4000m peaks and back over the Grivola & the Gran Paradiso.... This is a place to sit a while and reflect. The descent is initially tricky so care needs to be taken for the first 30 mins or so you then find yourself dropping into the most beautiful & remote valleys and down to the amazing little refuges of the Dortois Paradis in the Vallon du Fond. This is an un-manned refuge that has catering facilities but with prior arrangement the owner will pick you up in his 4x4 and take to his Auberge for an amazing dinner with delicious local food & wine. This truly was an evening to remember & the group loved every minute.

Day 7: We retraced our steps through the woods to the ruined refuge, from here we followed the trail to the Alto Pass or Haute Pass, this high valley is so remote and the ascent to the Col is long and challenging. Amazing views looking back to our Col from the day before but it wasn't a place to linger as the wind chill at the Col forced us to descend as quickly as possible to find shelter in the Refuge Defeyes... More Cappuccino & the biggest blueberry tart you ever could imagine!!! From here we made our long descent to La Thuille, it might be long but it certainly takes in some beautiful terrain with stunning views. La Thuile ski resort in the winter is a great little town the biggest we have seen since leaving Courmayeur and it provided us with a lovely hotel, great food and an amazing pack lunch the following day from the local deli.

Day 8: And our final day and back to the bosom of Mont Blanc we headed up out of La Thuile into the remote and beautiful Youla Valley to the Col d’Arp and then a fabulous traverse to the Col Youla with truly stunning views of Mont Blanc from the Italian side. Care needs to be taken initially on the descent as the ground is steep and very loose. The trail leads you onto the Tour du Mont Blanc route and you make your way past the refuge Maison Vielle to Col Checrouit and steeply down through the trees to Dolonne and onto Courmayeur. A warm welcome from our lovely hotel owners at the Hotel Crampon and a few celebratory bottles of Procecco were in order!

If you are into alpine trekking and are looking for a new challenge try this... It's stunningly remote and beautiful and to top it all its in Italy which means a warm welcome, lovely people and delicious food and drink.

We also added an option for clients to summit the Gran Paradiso 4060m at the end of the trek. We acquired the services of two UK high mountain guides Stuart McDonald and John Cune, who got us up to the summit safely and successfully.

We are running a guided Gran Paradiso trek again in 2016 and also organize self guided options. For more information on any aspect of the Gran Paradiso see our website: http://www.montblanctreks.com or contact sara@montblanctreks.com
Col Entrelor

Col Fenetre

Rhemes Notre Dame

Dortois Paradis

Above La Thuile

View from the Col Youla

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Summer 2015

After the relatively snowless winter the summer season 2015 started without too many glitches. The trails were snow free by late June and the only thing we had to worry about was the heat! This region of the Alps saw unprecedented temperatures as The Chamonix valley saw excesses of 30 degrees. In all my time living in this area I have never know it that hot, it was like being on the Mediterranean coast!

This was fabulous for views and dry days in the mountains but did make the ascents very tough for everyone. This balmy weather lasted all the way until the end of July with temperatures returning to the norm for the start of August.

August and September went well and our first guided trek on the Traverse of the Grand Paradiso was a success with an optional ascent of the Gran Paradiso 4020m summit at the end of the trek (see specific blog).

We once again had some fabulous groups & met some great folk from all over the globe.

Thanks also to our trusty guides Joy, Ali, Duncan, Kelvyn, Vicky, Alex & Gary who did an excellent job.

For more information on the services and trekking holidays we offer see our website: www.montblanctreks.com

Sara Haley, UIMLA guide & owner of Mont Blanc Treks

High on the Tour du Mont Blanc
Col du Seigne, Tour du Mont Blanc
Refuge Mottets, TMB
Bionassay, TMB
Col du Torrent, Walkers Haute Route

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tour du Mont Blanc Current Conditions June 2015

After a very mild winter with not a lot of snow and warm spring there is no better time to experience the Tour du Mont Blanc. Due to early summer conditions accommodation has opened early and the trails are open.

We have our first self guided clients arriving this week so in preparation I have carried out a couple of day recce’s in two of the key parts of the trek, the Col du Bonhomme and the Grand Col Ferret to see for myself what trail conditions are like. There is snow above 2000m but it is passable with care. There are groups out doing the route so the snow patches have been well trodden. Although the snow is soft it is advisable to take walking poles to aid balance & give you stability whilst walking on the snow.

Col du Bonhomme: Continual snow unto the col from about 2150m, snow on the traverse between the Col du Bonhomme & the Col du Crox du Bonhomme, take care whilst traversing as a slip could send you down the slopes into the rocks below.

Grand Col du Ferret: Minimal snow on the Italian side apart from the last section, quite an amount of snow on the Swiss side but the terrain is at an easy angle so it should be easy to cross.

Where there are large snow patches and navigation could be difficult in bad weather they have put wooden stakes with dayglow markings on. If you have bad visibility follow these markers in addition to using your map & compass.

Most other days and area are free of snow, It is advisable to go via Bovine from Champex to Trient rather than Fenetre d’arpmtte where there will be a lot of snow and the terrain is very steep therefore a fall or slip could be serious.

For more information on the services and trekking holidays we offer see our website: www.montblanctreks.com

Sara Haley, UIMLA guide & owner of Mont Blanc Treks

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Excellent time to take an Alps walking holiday, thanks to strong pound

Would you like to go on an Alps walking holiday, with Mont Blanc Treks? If so, you’ll be pleased to learn that it’s now far more affordable to do so, because the pound to euro exchange rate has hit a 7-year high. To be specific, sterling recently touched 1.4256 against Europe’s common currency, its strongest since November 7th 2007.

What this means for you is that, when you exchange currencies to go walking in the Alps, you’ll get far more euros than in the recent past. For example, if you exchange £2,500 to spend a fortnight in the Alps, you’ll now get +€560 more than if you’d done so back at the start of 2014, when the pound was far weaker.

In other words, that’s +€560 extra sitting in your pocket, at no additional cost to you, just because the exchange rate has risen! With that sort of money, you could extend your Alps walking holiday by a day or two, splash out, in brief really make the most of Mont Blanc Trek's range of activities!

Moreover, it could soon become even better value to take a walking holiday in the Alps, if sterling climbs higher versus the euro. The pound could exceed this 7-year high, first, if Greece exits the Eurozone, as looks entirely possible. Second, the pound may also continue to climb, because the UK economy is easily outpacing the Eurozone’s.

With this in mind, make the most of this advantageous exchange rate, and book your walking holiday in the Alps!

By Peter Lavelle
Pure FX
+44 (0) 1494 671800