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Trip Report Rambling in the Alps

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Edgecrusher, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I actually bought another set from @Team Weasel a few weeks ago. Keeping the dream alive man!!!
     
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  2. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    great pics. amazing what winter snow can cover
     
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  3. GS

    GS A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    For the young one? :D
    The little tacker will be ice climbing before he/she can walk
     
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  4. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    This is from two days ago:

    I arrived in Courmayeur and hoofed it up the hill from the Skyway to my hotel in the hot sun. By the time I arrived to check in I was in quite a lather after pulling my suitcase behind me. I was a bit early for check in but the attendant and I had a chat. His English was relatively good and he suggested that rather than go up Skyway in the afternoon, which I'd planned, he instead suggested that due to the placement of the sun that I go up the following morning. Good advice.

    I settled into my room, was shocked to see the footy score (the bombers handing the eagles a lesson despite the partisan Perth crowd and the umpires paying the hometown team an unholy number of frees), and then flicked on the tv to see the Socceroos take on Denmark complete with Italian commentary. Time for a walk to get my bearings...and find some lunch.

    After a long slow walk down the hill into town, trying to rest my weary legs, I found a bar in the centre of town serving panini and coffee.

    I headed across the river to Dolonne and a good look over the town and surrounding Ranges, then made my way back to the hotel. Dinner was at the hotel/restaurant next door, offering a 10% discount to those staying next door. After spaghetti ragu that tasted like my nonna used to make (a real rarity), and a main course, it was time for bed.

    Courmayeur - my thoughts are that it's much quieter, is more staggeringly beautiful, has better food, more traditional buildings, and a lot less tourists than its partner town on the other side of the tunnel. The coffee is also better here, although it's still only average at best.
     
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  5. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    The last two days can be summarised as follows:

    Val Veny, holy shit.

    My expectations were high, having read up and seen plenty of photos, but wow. I think those expectations were belted down the valley and ended up in Milan. I'd been wanting to eye the Glacier du Miage and the west face of Monte Bianco for a long time, with its ridiculous pillars of rock up to its summit and the mountain just rising straight up from the valley and glacier. Good lord is it impressive. Val Veny has, without a doubt, the finest alpine scenery I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Chamonix, Zermatt, St Moritz, Dolomiti, and a number of other places included.

    A couple of trip reports to come, with pics of course.
     
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  6. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Friday: as mentioned previously, I took the advice of the receptionist at my hotel and headed up Skyway first thing in the morning. Well, 9:45 - I'm on holiday after all. After fighting my way onto a crowded cabin full of tourists (and a couple of folks with mountaineering gear), up we went on the new Skyway, which recently celebrated its third birthday. It's a spectacular piece of engineering - the rotating cabins with speakers playing elevator tunes, and the structures themselves at the bottom, middle, and top with their terrific architecture. It's not as spectacular in the way the Aiguille du Midi is (the view from Plan de l'Aiguille looking up is as ridiculous as it gets), but it's still pretty cool. There's also the fact that the Aiguille Noire, Blanche, and Monte Bianco are right there on your left going up, while the Dente del Gigante and Grandes Jorasses are off to your right, and all are so close.

    The wind was strong up high, blowing over from the French side and leading to a lot of cloud amongst the high peaks.
     
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  7. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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  8. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    The plan had been to walk down the trail from the mid station back down to the valley, but I had another idea - a trail leads off from the station across the mountainside toward a place known as Belvedere de Brenva. My map and others around town (Courmayeur has all these places with annotated photos sporting the hiking trails) suggested it as an advanced trail with via ferrata. I thought I'd have a look and if things became too tough, I'd beat a hasty retreat.

    Anyhow, across I went - forwarding a surging torrent full of Glacier melt, and then encountering the via ferrata. Fixed ladders and ropes were all in place. Serious stuff, with a fall likely to result in a bad injury or death. After dealing with the via ferrata (and not requiring a change of underwear), I came across another bastard of a steep snow filled couloir with no evidence of any recent crossing. A slip and I'd end up a few hundred metres below. After 50mins, I turned back toward the pavilion for lunch.
     
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  9. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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  10. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    great pics and great memories, for sure
     
  11. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Monte Bianco
     
  12. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Over a panino and coffee, I worked out how to spend the remainder of the day. Lower down the day was fine and sunny with no wind. Behind me out the windows and about 700metres below was Val Veny and the Glacier du Miage. It was 1:15 and after consulting the map, caught the next cable car down.

    Once back on the ground I found my way out of the car park and up the gravel road which heads up to meet the Val Veny road. It's a 2.5km walk all uphill on the rocks and debris deposited by the Brenva Glacier and crosses its Glacier melt stream as well as the river flowing down from Val Veny. The views on the Glacier face and the Aiguille Noire are absurd at such range, and the noise from the gushing water is deafening. Of note was the remains of a huge avalanche, with all of its debris and ice very visible. Once I met the road and got up to the next bus stop, conveniently a bus was just arriving to take me to La Visaille, the final stop up the valley.

    After some hassles in trying to buy a ticket from the driver, who spoke zero English (and my Italian being on the basic side), I was at La Visaille, at around 1670 asl. The plan was to hike up the road along the valley for a look. The road follows the river up, with plenty of evidence of the big winter - a landslide which had taken out the road, which has been recut, and big slides with plenty of remaining debris and ice in the river. After a 45minute walk up I reached the stunning Lac Combal, at 1960 asl, under the Aiguille Tre-la-Tete, and with views of the Col de la Seigne on the French border.
     
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  13. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    You seem like a nice guy for someone who is A TOTAL BASTARD!
    Great pics and great narrative.
    Looks wonderful.
     
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  14. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Umm, thanks? LOL
     
  15. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm now even gladder that my team belted his when we went to the footy a few weeks ago ;) :p
     
  16. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Being over here and looking at the Tour Ronde, I've got an even greater appreciation of the skiing CG and you did off it. I went up to Rifugio Bonatti yesterday (and beyond...way beyond and higher, but that's for another TR) and recalled you guys also did a day's touring up there, no?
     
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  17. chunky

    chunky Old n' Crusty

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    Speechless - almost ;) Fantastic!
     
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  18. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  19. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great fun but ridiculously hard hiking. I'm paying a big price for the past week right now with an exhausted body, painful knees, blistered feet, and sunburnt skin. What I don't have though are regrets. Would do it all over again once my body was right.
     
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  20. Majikthise

    Majikthise Sage Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Do we need to send @JoeKing ?
     
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  21. GS

    GS A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    :violin:


    Seriously though, loving the TR. Did something similar over the other border and have wanted to go back ever since. Looking forward to the next installments.
     
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  22. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah we went up in the valleys behind:

     
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  23. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I walked up there yesterday and up to the Col and then climbed Tete Entre de Sauts (2730m - the highest peak I've climbed). Not as much snow though (although still quite a lot for late June)
     
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  24. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    @Boodwah has been up there but the snow wasn't right for us, we went to the col and dropped into the next valley.
     
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  25. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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  26. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I decided to explore Lac du Miage, which had sparked my curiosity a long time ago when looking to visit here. The views on the west side of Monte Bianco and the Aiguille Noire were absurd. The larger of the lacs is an interesting place, very dynamic. Ice and rock are forever moving and crumbling into the lac.

     
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  27. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Km and VMs walked thus far?
    My knees ache just reading this
    Keep it up!
     
  28. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    At 1640 I decided to head for home. After 2 and a quarter hours and 11.5 kms of walking along some of the most sublime alpine scenery I've seen, I made it back to the hotel. But not before a cheeky marmot scared me after darting out in front while walking through the Brenva Glacier debris. And upon reaching the Skyway car park, peering inside an undercover car park to see at least 150 assorted Ferraris inside, and many more arriving via the Mont Blanc tunnel. A Ferrari event was taking place and all the owners were staying in the hotel next to the Skyway.

    A long day, a decent amount of walking with a bit of vertical (~500 odd metres - the walk down from Miage was around 700 metres of descent), and around 18kms worth for the day. It had also given me an eye into the next day's hiking...

     
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  29. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I don't have all the data for each day because I haven't recorded it all.
    By way of indication though, the hike 2 days ago involved me covering 21.6kms. The lowest altitude was 1317asl and I climbed to the high point at 2442asl.
    Yesterday the bus took me up Val Ferret to the trailhead at 1697asl. I climbed Tete entre deux Sauts at 2728asl, dropped down to 2259asl, then climbed up to Tete de la Tronche at 2581asl. Yesterday was 22.7kms. VMs the past two days I'd suggest would be in excess of 1500m each.
     
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  30. Majikthise

    Majikthise Sage Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    You will be ready to enter the surf coast classic when you return.
     
  31. Swede

    Swede One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Luv your work :)
     
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  32. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I shoulda lent you a Suunto as well as axe and crampons!!
     
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  33. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Saturday: I had a late start after enjoying dinner and some vino with some Italians at a restaurant the previous evening. By the time I made my way out the door it was 1140, and the day presented again with clear skies, bright sun, and no wind. The plan was to hike all the way up the road that goes right up to the heart of the ski area in Courmayeur to Col Checrouit, have lunch at Rifugio Maison Veille, and walk a long stretch of the TMB which is all above 2000 asl and faces directly opposite Monte Bianco. So fairly reasonable views and enjoyable hiking, I guess.

    The trail then drops down to Lac Combal, and I could then walk back along the road to the bus stop at La Visaille, which I'd managed the day before. The previous day had given me a view into the terrain on offer and how much snow still lay up high.

    Needless to say the views of the mountains and conditions were as perfect as I could ever expect.
     
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  34. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Down to the Brenva moraine again after leaving the hotel and up to Pont Ponquet at 1220 to begin the trail. The single lane road winds its way up the mountain, with the tall pines offering welcome shade and sufficient gaps to peer through to glimpse at the valley below and the enormity and grandeur of the Massif on the opposite side of the Val Veny. You could easily get a sore neck from craning it up to stare at the rock and ice above. The road cuts across many of the ski runs and then becomes a home trail.

    After an hour I reached Courba Dzeleuna at 2048asl, on the side of Mont Chetif. This represented almost 700 vertical metres from the lowest point of the hike, a relentless uphill march steadily gaining height but never horribly steep. From there it was a nice stroll on the ski runs to my lunch stop by 1355, a busy stopover for those completing the TMB. A fantastic setup was on offer, with big picnic tables outside in the sun in a setting on a beautiful col at 1852asl, on one side looking over to Monte Bianco, and on the other the surrounding mountains and down the valley to Courmayeur, Pre St Didier, and beyond. The energetic staff had music going, were fluent in English, and offered great service. One of the staff I spoke to told me she'd spent 4 months working on a station in outback Qld. Just a little different to working at a rifugio in the Alps.
     
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  35. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    After a coffee and panino it was back to the trail at 1425. It leaves the trees behind as it steadily gains altitude into ridiculously spectacular country on both sides. There were some tricky snow covered gullies, the largest and trickiest of the bunch I'd conveniently received some forewarning for - an English father and his teenage son stopped for a chat with me a few hundred metres beforehand. It wasn't terribly difficult thankfully, and I eventually made it down to Lac Combal by 1700. With the bus scheduled for a 1740 pickup I raced down the road and made it with ten minutes to spare and enjoyed an empty bus right down the valley. Of note was the bus driver casually pulling the bus over halfway down the hill to refill his bottle from one of the convenient taps. Italians I guess!
     
  36. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    A 2km walk from the bus stop up the hill to the hotel by 1825, and I was a touch over 21.5 kms for the day. The track tops out at 2442asl so it was a solid day of work.
     
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  37. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I saved the longest, highest, furtherest, and hardest day of walking until the end...well, until my body and my knees told me it couldn't take another day. Final trip report to come.
     
  38. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Final trip report, which has taken me quite some time to get around to. I finished it on the plane flying home yesterday. Ive even busy since leaving the high mountains.

    Sunday, 24 June I decided to walk the Val Ferret section around Courmayeur. I caught the bus at 10 which climbs up the valley. There were a lot of campervans and campers lining the upper reaches. Up both valleys the bus drivers pull over by the side of the road to fill their bottles up with water from one of the many old taps that are forever flowing. They're pretty relaxed up that way.

    As it was Sunday, many middle aged and older types were on the bus or along the road and heading out for casual walks and hikes.

    I was surprised to see an enormous slide which had come down off the lower slopes of the Grandes Jorasses and had covered the road, which looked like it had only been recently cut through the snow, which at the bottom next to the road was at least 1.5m deep. The remaining snow would be at least 100m in width. All the trees had been about a foot from the ground.

    Eventually the bus dropped myself and a couple of older ladies off at 10:25.

    It was a cooler day than previous, with the cloud level above around 3000m. It did make for more comfortable walking, which was a pleasant reprieve from the baking sun.
     
  39. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    After passing a few fellow walkers, I made it to Rifugio Bonatti by 1110, turning a suggested 90 minute walk into a 45 minute one.

    Bonatti is a very comfortable mountain refuge serving reasonable coffee and food sitting above the tree line just over 2000 asl opposite the glaciers and high peaks.
     
  40. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    Shit, this has really turned into Mountain Porn - can' take it anymore here from the flat land. :out:
     
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  41. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    After taking an early lunch of a panino and a couple of coffees, I left to follow the path which climbs up the Vallon de Malatra and then up to Col d'Entre de Sauts at 2521asl.

    I caught up to a guy who looked to be at least in his late 60's, and together he and I climbed higher until stopping at the Col at 1240. We sat down for a drink and a chat. He was originally from Trieste but now lived in Milan, and his English was solid. He left me to climb the Tete d'Entre de Sauts, which at 2730asl was the highest climb of the trip and a new PB for me. After being unable to locate the track, I climbed up a slope until finding the narrow path and bumping into a Canadian couple over from Calgary for a decent chat. I finally made it to the sunny summit by 1330 and a chance to sit down, take in some water, and try and sort out my feet which were giving me some grief.
     
  42. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Views from the summit
     
  43. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Back down to the Col, and then another climb up into another valley, the Combe D'Arminaz. The path then climbs up to the Col Sapin at 2435 asl, which I reached by 1505. It was beginning to get cooler and breezy in the alpine, but thankfully I had only one climb left - the short but steep climb up to Tete de la Tronche at 2584asl.

    I made it up by 1530, and then it was the easy walk along the length of Mont de la Saxe - 90 minutes of superb walking on easy trails opposite Monte Bianco.
     
  44. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    This is really going to affect my mental health - you can not be that cruel - can you? :mad:
     
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  45. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Awesome mate thanks so much.

    Epic trip, a very unique TR and also thanks for the effort because I know how much work goes in to putting together these reports.
     
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  46. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not as hard as the content!
     
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  47. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Eventually the forgiving path gives out and becomes brutally steep above Rifugio Bertone overlooking Courmayeur. Just above the Rifugio and came across a small and wonderfully coloured viper enjoying a small period of sunshine on the path. He'd have only been the diameter of my little finger and 40cms in length.
     
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  48. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    You're welcome though. It was a pleasure to share it with people that love the mountains as much as I do. If anyone that had a look through this thread enjoyed it just a small fraction as much as I enjoyed going over there and spending time in those mountains then I'm happy. It was unbelievably satisfying to do.
     
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  49. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    After finally making my way down to the valley, I came across yet more remnants of a slide - this time an enormous slope had been scoured and the debris and snow was 12-15 feet deep at the bottom, and had only missed buildings by metres.

    I made it back to the hotel just before 1900 after almost 23kms of hiking. My body was letting it know it had reached its limit and the following day I decided to take it easy rather than pushing it further and aggravate my knees further.
     
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  50. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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