Can’t believe how this Tour de Mont Blanc ends | Day 11 of TMB from Champex Lac to Fenetre de Arpette
We got up very early that day as we knew that the day is going to be hot and we had to conquer 2600m mountain. So we planned to do that in the first half of the day till 11 am and then start to get down.
The night was extremely warm again and we didn’t have to wear any warm clothes. It was very quiet and nobody has disturbed us fortunately. There was no wind or any other sounds at all so we slept very well.
We started our uphill at 7 am (which was our personal record) from the village Arpette, walked along the rapid river for some time and then the trail began to twist up.
Right from the start we noticed that there are no usual signs and marking of TMB that we were seeing on every corner the last two days. There was just a red and white mark of the other trail going to the mountain Fenetre d’Arpette where we were heading. So we started to hesitate whether we should go back and search for the usual signs or continue but because we were using the downloaded GPS track that was always right till that moment we decided to continue. Also we saw another several people going the same direction and saying that they’re also hiking the TMB. So it made us think that we’re going in the right direction.
At first the trail went through quite a gentle uphill through the forest and along the river but soon started to get steeper. There was no shadow whatsoever all way long. Then it began to go through the big rocks and it was getting harder and harder. Starting in the early morning helped us a lot to do it as the sun wasn’t that high and hot yet.
We felt like this was more challenging than any other mountain crosses that we did so far on this tour. We had to jump onto the rocks and skip through them all the time. Then we started to see the blue line marking on the rocks and we were sure that it wasn’t TMB. We were just hoping that it was a possible alternative to the official way.
Then we began to see the snow on the trail which was expected but now it was melting a lot and was threating to rush down at every step we did. The trail was becoming steeper and steeper and soon we just saw a rock fall in front of us and sign that this is the way. At this moment we stopped and realized that it was too risky to even attempt doing this trail. We still saw quite a bit of snow left and high steep mountain rocks all around us. So we knew there was no other way but going into the snow and rocks. Even without backpacks this trail would be a challenge to do. But with this weight it was close to impossible to do without a risk. Surprisingly the people who were with us still tried to conquer the mountain but had to turn back and said that it was impossible to do in the end because of how steep it was. One of them even hurt his arm while climbing up, it was crazy.
So after 3 hours and 7 kms of going uphill all of us had to turn back. It was still around 11am but the sun was getting hotter and hotter. On the way back we met other hikers going uphill and some if them were doing the TMB which made us think that this alternative is quite popular and they should have made a sign saying that this us not the right trail. It would help a lot of people. Also it wasn’t the season yet for this trail.
So we got down 7 kms from the mountain without a stop, our legs were shaking, knees are hurting and all the body burning. We had to hide in the shadow of the forest for some time to have a break and our lunch and make our minds about what we are going to do next.
In the end we decided that at this point we are ready to finish our Tour de Mont Blanc. We felt like we did enough and were 11 full days in it and almost did the whole circuit. We just didn’t do the last day according to official guide crossing from Switzerland to France and coming back to Chamonix. But with that mountain of today it felt like we already crossed the border as we did the same distance and elevation gain.
So with a sense of satisfaction and completeness we went down to the village Orsieres to continue our way to Italy and joining other long pilgrim trail – Via Francigena. We were excited to explore more Italy as it was the new country for us and we knew very little about it.
TMB was a beautiful but at the same time challenging trail for us and that was a great start of our hiking summer season. We are going to share our full impressions about this hike in a separate post as there are so many. So make sure to not miss a following post. See you there!
Here is the link to Google map to follow the hike: