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Report 1047: Mt. Blanc Summer 2006

By Robert Rainey from California, Summer 2006

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Page 10 of 15: Courmayeur to Les Chapieux to Les Contamines

photo by Robert Rainey

above Courmayeur

This was our hump day based on availability of places and the number of days we had. My solution was to combine the better part of two normal hiking days so we had a total of 35 km to go today. We kind of cheated, as we decided to take a ride in the paved downhill section for the last two km. So we only hiked 33 km. Our Elapsed time was 10 hours and a half, which includes our one hour stop for lunch at Refugio Elizabeta.

Refugio Elizabeta was my idea of a hiking trip lunch heaven. We had water, beer, cheese, elizabeta salad which was incredible, lettuce, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives, cheese, corn. Next cooked eggplant in a tomato sauce, bread. The six Italian men next to us each ordered antipasto but apparently they couldn't finish. They kept feeding me I must have had over one whole plate of antipasto!

The hike was long, the day was cloudy and we had several hours of rain. The only real downside of this was we lost some of the beautiful views of the mountain peaks. Another slight bummer was I had dropped my brand new Nikon D 50 camera; the lens seemed to be a bit messed up and had to be manually focused and none of the electronics worked. But my photos still seemed to come out okay.

Again we crossed several streams, snow and passed through another dairy farm, the Ville des Glacier. The cows were crossing the road, which was also our trail. So we were required to weave our way through at least 100 cows and also carefully pass the excited and very protective, one- eyed cattle dog. Upon reaching the refuge des Mottes I had a beer and Peg got hot chocolate.

We crossed the river and headed down to Les Chapieux and the Auberge De La Nova a very nice hotel with 35 beds and 35 dortoir places. We had been granted a private room when someone cancelled about a week before our departure. The bathroom was down the hall with the shower. We had a few hours to relax before dinner. We were assigned our seats next to a British couple, Margaret and Nigel. We talked about our various journeys; family’s etc. Next morning, it was a basic breakfast coffee, corn flakes and yogurt (some folks put yogurt in their cereal?).

We packed and headed up our one formidable climb for the day the Col de Bonhomme, 900 meters. We paced ourselves to arrive at the Refuge de Bonhomme in time for lunch. We were a little early arriving at 11:20 am. Very nice salad, spaghetti Carbonara (I would never order this but it was the only pasta dish). Peg had salad and vegetable soup. A very hearty dark bread was also served. From the Refugio we could see a group of chamois(like deer) on the adjacent ridge.

The rest of the day was downhill with several rather long snow crossings the longest maybe 200 meters. On the way down we stopped at a refuge for a coke (no orangina) and continued to descend into the Val Montjoie. We passed the Bon Nant stream, which cuts a twisting path through the craggy and rocky gorge. We continued to follow the stream and entered the Refuge Naturele Borrant a forested area more like a large park with various recreational activities swimming, rock climbing, soccer, archery, golf etc.

In the park we passed the lovely Notre Dame De la Gorge church. We passed out of the park and soon found the road into Les Contamines Montjoie.

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