The day started with an easy stroll down the valley. We enjoyed the fresh breeze and shade in the valley during sunrise. It was very quiet and peaceful. The other hikers were all still asleep when we left so we had the valley to ourselves.


I did feel it already yesterday evening. A slight scratching in my throat. And now there it was – a sore throat. The typical start of a cold for me. Fortunately I had no other signs yet but I was worried that hiking 40km wouldn’t really help. But well, l guess I would see tonight or tomorrow morning.

We had to drop down to about 1.000m before climbing back up to Champex. We were relieved. The fitness level was there, we were confident we would at least make it back to Chamonix on foot and we enjoyed being out there. It felt like nothing had changed in the last nine month. Kaylee was setting the pace and I fell back taking pictures once in a while catching up afterwards.


The only difference was that it took me longer to catch up again. Maybe Kaylee had trained harder than me… 🤷‍♂️


We went through beautiful pine forest and over glacial morays before we arrived in the smaller villages at the bottom of the valley.


Nestled into the steep valley the little chalets in the typical wooden style. Peaceful.


After about 10km we had the first 500m climb back up to Champex. We arrived early and just in time for the coffee shop to open. It was out of question that we could pass it without getting a coffee. So we dropped the packs, sat down and ordered two cappuccino. The town was still asleep, everything very calm and the surrounding mountains reflected in the little lake of Champex. We also had to take a decision on how to continue. The last high-route alternate was ahead of us. Either we could walk around the formation sheltering Campex or we could hike straight up and over the Fenetre d’ Arpette. This would be another additional 1.200m steep climb and with this the highest point en route with 2.665m. The map showed that we would get very close to one of the glaciers on the way down. So the decision was easy.

Leaving Champex wasn’t too hard. The coffee was horrible. We chugged it down and started the climb. Only entering “the bowl” made us happy. Definitely the right decision to go up and over:


We were super excited. It looked like rough alpine terrain and according to the map we had to go straight over the wall in front of us. Yeah baby – Rock’n’Roll!


After leaving the tree line the valley welcomed us with a stunning variety of flowers. Everything was green and blooming. I felt set back to the Sierra Nevada a year ago when we hit the blooming season on the PCT. The sun was burning down on us now and it was getting hot. I thought we had missed the last opportunity to get water from one of the streams further down but then I heard a little tickling sound. In a crack of a rock face a little spring spilled water out onto the ground. Not enough to create a stream but enough to fill up a bottle. Ice cold spring water. What can you ask more for… 😍


The climb was getting steeper and steeper. And when we came out of the alpine scrub we had to bolder and scramble up the last 400m in altitude. Also a few snow patches were left. Nothing dangerous or unmanageable but definitely the most challenging part on the entire TMB. Nothing comparable with the gently graded PCT slopes but real alpine stuff. I have the feeling most TMB hikers are scared off by the big climb and so it was really quiet on the way up.


Up on the pass we did not get less than expected. Views were incredible and the payback for 1.800m climb from the valley floor. We dropped our packs and had the most scenic lunch break of the tour. Italian cheese, salami and of course Haribos!


The daily game started again. We could see clouds building up again in the south some of them towering up getting darker… So we decided to get off the ridge.

The pink shorts back in business. The best decision ever not to frame them but to make them wearable again and to get them back into the mountains…


On the way down we passed the glacier which we did see on the map already. Heavily crevassed impressively demonstrating the danger of hiking on glaciers… On our side of the valley we had a few big wash-outs which either came from avalanches in spring or maybe even mud slides earlier in the season from a lot of water. So the trail was gone and we had to scramble down a few sections. Nothing to dangerous but still we needed to watch our steps. Falling would have not been a good option. We were glad that the rain hadn’t started yet.


Before we reached the bottom of the valley the rain hit us. It started pouring down on us and we rescued ourselves into the little Rifugio for a coffee. Shitty coffee number 2 today. Instant coffee 🙈. But at least we were out of the rain. A thunder cell went right over the pass we had been on an hour ago. A few lightnings unloaded into the mountains and it was beautiful to watch it – from inside…

It was already 17.00 o’clock but we needed to continue to have a chance to finish tomorrow. So when the rain calmed down again we started the next climb. The never-ending game of putting on a rain jacket to stay dry from the rain and then getting soaked from sweating vs. not putting on rain gear and then getting wet and cold. So after a few sessions of putting jackets on and off the rain finally died down and the sky cleared again. With a lot of manual work the Swiss had put a trail into an almost straight rock face to be able to get through it.


After another two and a half hours we reached the Swiss / French border on the Col de Balme. It was only 19.30 and actually to early to stop. We had “only” done 37km so far and we wanted to get another 5 to 10 in today to give ourselves a better position for tomorrow. But when we reached the Col we couldn’t resist. We had a beautiful view on the Mont Blanc which was covered in a thunder cell. The play of clouds, lightning and the sunset was so stunning that we just pitched the tent right on the pass watching the scenery with our dinner.


The sunset was incredible. We pitched the tent so we could see Mont Blanc while laying in the tent. Unbelievable that our last night out was there already. This time of course we had a time restriction and no chance to slow down. But it was sad again that we were almost done – again. It seems to be a never-ending story…


We crawled into our sleeping bags and watched the last little rays of sun light. A tough and also very rewarding day. My throat was ok. I could still feel it but it didn’t get worse. I was really hoping for it to also stay stable tomorrow.


Good night MB 😘

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