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Report 1047: Mt. Blanc Summer 2006

By Robert Rainey from California, Summer 2006

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Page 7 of 15: La Fouly to Refugio Bonatti

photo by Robert Rainey

Refugio Elena

The hike begins along the road to Ferret; soon we were exiting the valley of Ferret and climbing, with mountain views on both sides. The area is dairy farm central with constant companionship of cows in the prairie below the mountains. My wife thought one of the cows was lost but it soon found its way up to the water trough near the trail where we passed.

Our first stop was at La Peula a dairy farm through which the TMB trail passes. Tables were set up with umbrellas to shade from the now warm and bright sun. Refreshments and some food were available; we dropped our packs and both had some orange soda, which hit the spot.

Next was the seemingly endless climb up to Grand Col Ferret and the Swiss/Italian border. We crossed a few more patches of snow, which was quickly melting. From about two kilometers away I could see ant like figures on the Col which I pointed out to Peg. Soon we were at the top with magnificent views of the Alps in all directions. We were greeted with bon giorno by an approaching hiker. We made it to Italy!

Continuing on our next stop would be the Refugio Elena but not before enjoying the views into the Italian Vals Ferret and Veni deeply cut between the massive Alps on either side. As we descended we ran into large groups of French teenagers, hiking in groups. From the steeply switch backed trail we could seen that the refuge was installing a new copper roof. Finally we arrived at Refugio Elena; we were hungry and the refuge was the place to be! Not only did the refuge have the normal refreshments, which we had come to expect like soda, water, beer etc. but it had an incredible wine list featuring representatives of all the famous types of Italian wines! A better wine list than most Italian restaurants in the US, and we were in the middle of the mountains, not even close to any town.

I had ravioli with chamoix (fabulous, rich)and a salad; Peg had tagliatele pomodoro. The refuge has incredible views of the surrounding mountains and the Pre de Bar glacier. This would be a good place to stop for the night if you wanted to slow down a little and take an extra day.

After lunch, we found the trail behind the refuge and descended through flowers and pasture and across several streams. There we also a few small patches of snow before reaching the valley and an hour walk to the turn up the final hill to Refugio Bonatti. We were tired and the final climb was a bear. Tonight, we sorted our excess things to be mailed home tomorrow from Courmayeur.

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