Italian Alps, Courmayeur and Mont Blanc

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This landscape may seem to be made by humans, but in fact this is a glacier, hidden under gravel and rocks it accumulates on it’s way into the valley. You can see the ice in the dark areas above the lake on the left.

In the mountains, be it in Scandinavia or elsewhere in Europe, winter is standing at the doorstep. Soon it will start to snow and hiking season will be over till May or June next year.

We took the chance to get some cold and sunny days in the Alps, with almost no one around. The cheapest option was to fly directly from Gothenburg to Bergamo, in northern Italy. The flight there and back cost in fact no more than 60€ total, and a rental car was 40€. I guess in the high-season you will pay at least five times this price…

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On our first day we decided to a quite easy hike, in order to see the surroundings and get acquainted with the imposing nature. Whenever I feel that I’m new to a region I try to stay very humble and first of all do a hike that is rather easy. The stage we decided for is on the TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc) and leads into a valley called Val Veny. Some of the biggest glaciers of the Mont Blanc massif are located here and have left their traces all over the place (see first picture).

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Mont Blanc is hiding in the clouds. There are several small shelters up in these pinnacles and around the glacier. I couldn’t really see myself going there… (I don’t even know how…)

After the first hike, which took us up to 2200m, we felt a bit more comfortable in these foreign surroundings and decided to walk up to a shelter in the Ferret valley, east of Courmayeur. I had seen old pictures and drawing of the valley, which showed the glaciers dominating the landscape, filling the sides of the valley with snow and ice. I didn’t expect climate change to be that obvious- but there is really just a small, sad bit of the glaciers left. The rocks are polished where the ice used to be, and now are bare. This is even kind of disappointing from the touristic perpective, but of course making tourists happy is not the purpose of nature.

We hiked up a steep slope to the Rifugio Walter Bonatti and continued on the TMB alongside the mountain, finally taking a local trail to bring us back into the valley.

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Gustav in front of the Rifugio, named after a famous italian mountaineer.
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Walking along the TMB trail.

On our final day of hiking we decided for a rather hard trail, since it was supposed to be another day of crispy and clear weather.

The trail starts close to the village of Courmayeur and climbs through a forest very steeply up to 2000m. From here we had to traverse some scree slopes and landslide areas until coming to a grassy slope that led us in zig-zags up to the Col Sapin mountain pass. From here we took another trail, leading us over the peak of Tête de la Troche and past the Tête Bernarde. After this the hike gets a lot easier, going smoothly downhill, over the ridge of the Mont de la Saxe, until reaching the Rifugio Bertone, basically right above the parking lot. Now it’s just 700 vertical meters downhill through the forest, to close the loop.

mappp

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After ascending up to 2000m we had a little rest before starting the steep slope which would take us up another 600m vertically. At this point I wasn’t too sure why I always decide to go to so demanding places. Next time I’ll go shoe shopping in Milano, I thought…
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Mont Blanc, as seen from Testa Bernarda, at 2500m.
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On the peak of the Tête de la Troche, with almost 2600m. Sice I have a bit of fear of heights, I really wasn’t comfortable up here. Just look at how steep the trail is!
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