Day 1 : Tough start : Chamonix (FR) – Tre le Champ (FR)
Backpack on, shoelaces tied, and here we go! La Flegere lift takes us up to 1877m and we cheerfully hike to Les Cheserys. First breathtaking views, and first complaints as we start long, steep, painful descent. Baby has a lot of fun. He describes the scenery loudly, kicking Daddy in the ribs. We are all sweaty and in pain when we finally make it to our refuge. French wine and cheese is exactly what we need now.
Day 2 : Hikes and Lifts : Tre le Champ (FR) – Col de la Forclaz (CH)
There are two options: a longer, harder ascent, or a shorter, easier lift ride. We tried really hard to avoid the lift. We really did. Until we took a wrong turn and ended up at the lift station. Oh, well. We go only halfway, the second half is a chairlift which we cannot do with Baby. Yet again, we take a wrong turn. So we find ourselves on a super steep climb under the lift. Not fun. We make it to the top, cross to Switzerland, and then go down. Way way down, through snow, narrow cliffs, hot meadows, to Trient. We can see our hotel, an hour of steep climb above us. Hmm. Time to get another lift. Thank you kind bold Portuguese and cool German couple for helping out some tired (and a little lazy) hikers!
Day 3 : Up, down, and up again : Col de la Forclaz (CH) – Champex (CH)
Even if Baby doesn’t weight more than 8 kg, after a while it feels like carrying stones up the mountain. Says daddy, Baby’s sherpa, carrying 19kg load. The crazy thing about long hikes is that you might spend the whole day going up, just to descent back down. And this is one of these days. Except we have to scrap the last energy and still hike up to our refuge. Fondue for dinner was worth it.
Day 4 : Regeneration : Champex (CH) – La Fouly (CH)
Taking it easy, we arrive for breakfast at 7:30 and realize we are the last ones around. We can afford it though: today is regeneration day. We walk 7km to the nearest village and take a bus to La Fouly, a base for the biggest climb of our tour. Baby clearly misses his I-am-taller-than-you-all-and-I-love-it time today. A bit of drama before the afternoon nap must have scared the incoming hikers sharing a wall. A bit of adrenaline will do them good.
Day 5 : The big ascent : La Fouly (CH) – Rifugio d’Elena (IT)
So far weather was luxurious. This morning we wake up to a gloomy grey. We are on foot by 8am, setting a new speedy morning record. And up up up we go, to Col de Ferret at 2537m. This is the highest point of our tour, and given Baby’s age also a point we need to cross as fast as possible. Until now, people were applauding us when they saw Baby. Until a know-it-all hiker encounters: “the altitude of the pass is high for such a small baby, you know?” Duh, really? Still, it pushes Mummy over and she checks Baby every minute for any signs of uneasiness, while speeding up the hill like there is no tomorrow. Baby is fine, a bit sleepy as always after lunch, but alert and happy. Uff. Quick photo with the view, and quickly down to our refuge.
Day 6 : The rainy day : Rifugio d’Elena (IT) – Rifugio Bertonne (IT)
And there it is. Rain. Lucky for us, today is an easy 40min descent, short bus ride, and a manageable climb. What a relief when the rain stopped just as we were getting off the bus. Mummy’s jacket was everything but waterproof, Grandpa was soaking wet. Only Baby was dry and, as always, hungry. What the altitude does to his appetite! We are climbing up with the rising fog to 1987m for our last night on the tour.
Day 7 : Back to France : Rifugio Bertonne (IT) – Chamonix (FR)
Final 2 hour descent to Courmayeur is easy. We arrive to the city with mixed feelings of relief and nostalgia, but what prevails is hunger after dry bread and bowl of hot chocolate for breakfast. Pizza it is! It’s Baby’s first one, and we set a very high standard for the next ones to come. A bus ride through the Mont Blanc tunnel, and loop is completed. A fantastic week with breathtaking views, cozy chalets, painful ascents and even more painful descents, great food, friendly hikers, and Mont Blanc overseeing it all.