TMB Day 3: Les Chapieux to Courmayeur

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It was tough to leave the comfort of Les Chapieux, but the excitement of our first border crossing made it a little easier. Day 3 would take us out of France and into Italy via Col de la Seigne.  There is a war memorial just outside of Les Chapieux, and the thought of soldiers holed up in this narrow valley gave the morning an entirely different feel. Once we put a few miles behind us, the face of Aiguille des Glaciers began to intermittently peak out from behind an ever moving conveyor of clouds. The first two hours was spent walking on a road until we crossed over the river to find the solitary structure of Seloge.


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The Road Out
The Road Out
First  Mountain View
First Mountain View
Along the Empty Road
Along the Empty Road
Cow Town
Cow Town
Off the Road On The Trail
Off the Road On The Trail

The trail picks up a little bit of steam after passing Mottes, mixing in a number of stream crossings before thinner trail veins splinter away from what was a wider main trail. The climbing isn’t very steep or difficult, and the views  naturally draw one upward. We took our time and crossed paths with quite a few walkers taking on TMB in the opposite direction before reaching the Col. It was a special feeling to be standing on the border of France and Italy. It didn’t last long though, the weather behind us was clear and crisp, but the view down into Italy had rain written all over it. Stutters of sunlight punched through the clouds in short bursts, but as we stood there, they continued to grow shorter. We decided to quicken our pace to Rifugio Elisabetta in hopes that we could avoid any heavy downpours.

Small Buildings
Small Buildings
At the Col
At the Col
Mountain Guide
Mountain Guide
Trail Post
Trail Post

It started raining just as we reached Rifugio Elisabetta, and at times we could see lightning and hear cracks of thunder. The trail started to erode in places and puddle in others. Luckily, there is an alternative route for poor conditions just after reaching Lac Combal. There is a road that leads to La Visaille at this point. We decided to walk along the road, but many caught a bus to Courmayeur. Courmayeur is a very nice Italian town, and one of the more popular places to spend a winter ski vacation for those inclined to do so in Europe. There are many shops, markets, and restaurants to choose from, and the accommodation list was just as vast. We stayed at a great place called Hotel Edelweiss and bought food at the market to prepare our own lunch and dinner. We had lunch at a nice little restaurant next to the bus station in the center of town.

The Downhill Trail
The Downhill Trail
Lac Combal
Lac Combal
Hotel Edelweiss
Hotel Edelweiss
Courmayeur
Courmayeur
Signs Lead the Way
Signs Lead the Way

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TMB Day 2: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux

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Paola
Paola
5 years ago

Just came back from my pilgrimage to Santiago, seeing those pictures makes me want to go back on the road !

Drew
5 years ago
Reply to  Paola

Paola! It’s great to hear that you finished your pilgrimage to Santiago! Buen Camino, pilgrim! How did you enjoy the Camino? Did you take pictures?

maineeechai
maineeechai
5 years ago

Hi, I am visiting Mont Blanc this coming September. I would like to know how long was the hike from Les Contamines to Les Chapieux and Les Chapieux to Courmayeur. Thank you so much.

Drew
5 years ago
Reply to  maineeechai

Hello, Les Contamines to Les Chapieux is 18km. You’ll climb 1800 meters to the col and then take a long descent. It’s a beautiful hike with spectacular views. Les Chapieux to Courmayeur was a longer hike at 35 km. It climbs 1400 meters to the col before descending. You can break it down into two days and stay at the Elisabetta refuge before continuing on to Courmayeur the following day. We just choose to do that section in one day since it’s all downhill from Elisabetta to Courmayeur.

Prateek Haralalka
Prateek Haralalka
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

Hi Drew, can you tell me how many hours it took you to go from Les Chapieux to Courmayeur? 35 kms does sound like a bit much.

Ivan Ivanov
Ivan Ivanov
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

Hi Drew! I have the same question as Prateek did:) How many hours it took you to go from Les Chapieux to Courmayeur? It’s almost impossible to book Elisabetta refuge and i am thinking if we can actually hike in one day 2 days hike. Thank you in advance!

Rosemary Anley
Rosemary Anley
4 years ago

I believe there is a shuttle from Les Chapieux for a few kms! Do you know if it runs regularly and it so where from?

Trail to Peak
4 years ago
Reply to  Rosemary Anley

I’m not sure about the shuttle. There is an asphalt road that runs from Les Chapieux towards the pass for a few kms. Our hotel offered a shuttle service at no extra cost. The owner Francois drove hikers in his van. We opted to walk the entire way as the morning weather was very nice.

ultrarunnertom
4 years ago

Did you encounter any places to stay other than Rifugio Elisabetta between Les Chapieux and Courmayeur?
It looks like a marvelous trip. We are going this summer. Thanks for any insight.

Trail to Peak
4 years ago
Reply to  ultrarunnertom

That’s really the only place from what I can remember. We got slammed with rain from Elisabetta down, so my memory of that area isn’t the best. We were just glad to make it to Courmayeur!

ultrarunnertom
3 years ago
Reply to  Trail to Peak

We stayed at Lac Combal. Nice place with private rooms and bathrooms. We had rain here as well and took the bus into Courmayeur.

Trail to Peak
3 years ago
Reply to  ultrarunnertom

It’s beautiful. I just wish we could have seen it on a nice day!

Traveler
Traveler
2 years ago

Hi –

I really like your website.

Two questions:

1. What are your thoughts on doing the TMB in late May?
2. Are there exposed sections (narrow trails with big drop-offs) of the TMB that may bother someone who is afraid of heights? If so, can they be avoided?

Thanks.

Traveler
Traveler
2 years ago
Reply to  Drew Robinson

Thanks, Drew.

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