Tour stories

Tour du Mont-Blanc: Thunder, Lightning, Snow, Ice, Sunshine– and Mobile Cow Milking!

Alister Bignell

August 6 - 15, 2017

Guided by Alister Bignell

The trip that had it all and more with thunder, lightning, snow, ice, sunshine, mobile cow milking... and the surliest waiter in all of Italy!

Despite being first time visitors to the Alps, the team quickly adapted to the life on the trail. Sierra, Adam, John, Janine, Sara and Chuck took the multiple challenges in their stride during this trail run around Mont Blanc.

Setting out from Chamonix under apocalyptic skies, their positive energy proved more than a match for the thunder, lightning and torrential downpours. A brief lull in the swirling storm got us over the Col de Tricot, which proved a lonely passage as we switchbacked our way down to the safety of the Refuge de Miages in the mist below.

Despite the sometimes turbulent weather conditions, smiles never faded, photos rarely stopped and everyone looked out for each other for the entire trip. Even when enduring the surly efforts of a certain Italian waiter in Courmayeur!

There was also a steady flow of banter that is “best left on the trail” but remains for me – many chuckles later – among the trip highlights. Every corner we turned was met with fresh curiosity and an eagerness to explore.

A Farmer’s View

Guests on our Run the Alps trips come from a wide range of backgrounds, but this is the first time we’ve had a farmer join us. A beef and maple syrup farmer, Adam won his place on the trip through Trail Runner magazine, after running over 500 miles in just a few months. A more fitting prize winner would be hard to find, as Adam seized every opportunity during the trip. He made frequent side trips to explore nearby viewpoints, examine mobile milking stalls and farmer’s sheds, and posing with the herds we frequently encountered en route!

Making the Trip

A huge thank you to everyone on this trip for making it so memorable and enjoyable. Completing a trail run around Mont Blanc is a great achievement in itself, but it’s the shared moments with good people that really make it special.

It’s a huge privilege to work as a guide, and even more so with the groups we have on Run the Alps trips. We’re here to show you the way, and without fail every group has made the most of the opportunity to appreciate what they’re shown. As we paid our respects at Notre Dame de la Gorge before setting forth into the high mountains, it seemed fitting to quote from one of the great appreciators of nature:

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.

– John Muir, The Mountains of California

Despite shockingly sunny weather and amazing views en route up to the Grand col Ferret, the group managed to keep their characteristic smiles!

Chuck is airborne – for the third time, no less! – above the Val Ferret, Italy.

Adam poses in his preferred place among cows and mountains, as we make our way up to the Arête Mont Favre near Courmayeur, Italy.

Chuck makes his bid for a international Coca-Cola ambassadorship in Les Chapieux, France.

Winter makes a brief appearance in the Alps, making for a chilly passage over the Grand col Ferret, high on the border between Italy and Switzerland.

Janine cruising down from La Fouly, Switzerland – still smiling after an already long descent from the high point of the week, Grand col Ferret.

En route to Champex, even the water stops are scenic.

Adam contemplates the view from an airy perch.

Janine visits with a new friend. Unfortunately, there’s no chicken pouch in her trail running vest.

Closing in on finishing the loop, the crew takes a break in Trient.

Before the descent, the cruise to Col Balme on the border between Switzerland and France.

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