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Summer Hiking In The Alps (with lots of chocolate)

03 October 2022

Laraine Wyn Jones, an English I.T. professional and part-time adventurer, tackled a 3-day hike across the border between Switzerland and France in 2014.

This is her story.

“How are you guys feeling?”

“My hands are cold and getting a bit painful.”

“I’m not surprised. Have you only got those thin gloves with you?”
“Um, yes. It’s summer.”

I had a lot to learn about Alpine summers.

Our all-female team were traversing the Glacier du Tour on a three day round trip from the Le Tour resort in France, not far from the well-known town of Chamonix, to the Triente hut, situated in the Swiss Alps above the Triente glacier.

 

SUMMER HIKING IN THE VALLEY, GLACIAL TREKS IN THE MOUNTAINS – THAT’S ALPINE SUMMER

The hike began at Le Tour resort down in the valley, in the glorious sunshine you’d expect in the middle of an Alpine summer. Only 20 minutes from the bustling town of Chamonix, the valley was lush and green with the peaks of the Aiguille du Tour easily visible above the glacier.

Actually, our hike didn’t really begin there. We took the Charamillon gondola and the Col de Balme chairlift further up the valley and started our hike from near the Col de Balme at around 7,218 feet.

From here, a number of trails are clearly signposted. The obvious trail to the Albert Premier Hut – our destination for the day – winds high above the valley, offering stunning views across the hamlet of Le Tour, before disappearing again among the clouds drifting by.

HUTS AND HIKING IN THE ALPS

The hike to the Albert Premier Hut is a popular one with day trippers. It’s an easy hike on a well-maintained trail with some very simple scrambling across a rocky ridge to reach the refuge. In only a couple of hours we arrived at the refuge mid-afternoon. We layered up and headed out to the glacier to practice our skills with crampons and ice axes in preparation for crossing it the following day.

After a comfortable but very noisy night (always take ear plugs when staying in a mountain hut, you are guaranteed to have a snorer in the room) we were up at 4.30am, preparing for a tough day. We would be summiting Aiguille du Tour, and then crossing the Triente glacier to the Triente refuge over the border in Switzerland.

A GLACIAL TREK

Kitted out in helmets, harnesses and crampons, and roped together, we made our way across the glacier toward the snowy slope below the intimidating Aiguille du Chardonnet. We made slow, steady progress up the slope, before turning left and climbing another steep snow covered slope leading to the rocky Col Superieur du Tour.

Crossing the col, we were greeted with a stunning view across the Triente Glacier; a huge bowl of pristine whiteness, surrounded by peaks. To our left rose the twin summits of Aiguille du Tour, the north summit our goal. Crossing the snow to the base of the rocky peak, we left our crampons and ice axes and ascended the short scramble to the peak of Aiguille du Tour where we were rewarded with an unbelievable view across the glaciers to the surrounding peaks.

NAPPING, YOGA AND LOTS OF CHOCOLATE WHILE HIKING IN THE ALPS

Descending the mountain, all that was left was a long, but straightforward, crossing of the Triente glacier, to the Triente refuge where we were rewarded with hot chocolate and cake.

The afternoon was taken up with eating chocolate, napping and even some yoga before an early night.

The third day of our hike was an easier one; retracing our steps across the glacier, crossing the col and descending back onto the Glacier du Tour. With a brief stop at the Albert Premier hut for a Coca Cola, we returned to the valley via the lift system, shedding our waterproof layers and down jackets as we went.

Arriving back on the valley floor, we were able to see the summit of Aiguille du Tour where we had stood only the day before. It was a very special moment, celebrated with yet more chocolate.

 

 

Enjoyed reading this? Check out this article about a trek through South Africa.

 

 

 

 

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