Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chamonix, Mont Blanc, and the Tour

Mont Blanc, seen above from Chamonix, is the highest mountain of Europe at 4870 meters or 16400 feet. It is part of a massif or block of rocks at the borders of three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland.
Chamonix, in the French valley on the western side of Mt Blanc, at 1000 meters is the place where many people begin the Tour de Mont Blanc, a 170 km loop around the Mont Blanc massif. The Ultratrail de Mt Blanc in August is a running race where competitors run the whole distance in one day, see the start below.

Chamonix is the historical center of alpinism in the world. The fresco above commemorates some of the famous mountain guides and is being admired by a real person on the street of Chamonix.

The next chapters show the hiking Tour du Mont Blanc made by Alan and Cyane in September of 2010: the total distance was over 170 km, over 10,000 m of ascent and 10,000 m of descent. It is impressive to think of climbing and descending over 10 km.
Hikers often stay in mountain refuges, which offer beds and meals.
The traditional way to do the Tour du Mont Blanc is counter-clockwise, starting in Chamonix/Les Houches in France and hiking south down the west flank of Mt Blanc. Italy and Courmayeur is on the east side and the Swiss valley with Champex is on the northeast side of the loop.