TMB Stage 11

We did! We circumnavigated Mt. Blanc completely on foot! From the Les Houches gate through France, Italy, and Switzerland and right back to where we began in Les Houches! We crossed passes, climbed mountains, followed rivers, and even walked up some driveways along the way. I’m so proud of all of us for supporting and pushing each other on. We all had our moments of physical pain and mental exhaustion, but we kept pressing on.

These 11 days of hiking will undoubtedly be a life accomplishment for me. Hopefully the girls will look back at this and remember what they are capable of when setting their mind to it as well.

The last day of hiking turned out to be one of the toughest. To me only Stage 6 was more difficult. The day began nicely with pastries from a shop in Argentiere where we had spent the night. We took the cable car back up to Le Flegere and started walking the final stage. The trail began rolling, but overall flat for the first few miles. Once we had warmed our legs up the climb began. It was a bit over 2,000 feet to the col. This was a normal climb, although I could feel strain the previous ten days. From there it was only another 400 feet up to the summit.

Upon reaching the col I noticed a sign that said the summit was 45 minutes away. This seemed really excessive for what I thought was a half mile walk. I wondered if maybe I was just wrong about where the summit was and that we actually had further to go. It turned out that I did have the right location, but was wrong about the walk. The next half mile turned out to be a scramble up the rock that capped Le Brevent, our second summit of the tour. None of us were expecting more ladders, chains, or crawling up rocks on our knees. Adding to the excitement was a cloud that rolled in to cover that entire part of the trail. We could only see about 10 feet in front of us making it hard to spot the yellow dots that were painted on the rock to mark the trail.

Of course, we eventually made it through and stopped to reward ourselves with pie, fries, and chocolate rum at the restaurant at the summit. The summit was also the location of the Le Brevent cable car that it seems most people use to whisk themselves down to Chamonix to end their tour. We still had some walking left though.

A long way down.

The very last stretch of the TMB drops over 5,000 feet from Le Brevent to Les Houches over 4ish miles. It felt like an endless descent. For 2.5 hours we walked down. Finally, we reached the Arve River and climbed the bank on the other side. It was a euphoric feeling to see the ending gate come into view.

The place where it all began and ended.
One last look at Mt. Blanc as we left Chamonix.

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