Saturday, November 21, 2009

MBT Stage 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur

Much like Stage III we awoke to a cloudy sky which cleared as we approached our destination. Again we were sad to leave the cozy and welcoming abode of Elisabetta (seen above) but we were also excited to see some more mountains and to get to the town of Courmayeur.

Knowing this was almost our final stage in the Alps we took our time gazing at the mountain ranges and glaciers, and prolonging the inevitable end of this amazing trek. Stage IV took us 18km from Refuge Elisabetta to Courmayeur and past the wall of moraine and the Glacier de Miage. We were originally going to trek via Rifugio Monte Bianco, but at the last minute we decided views from the main route might be more intense. After meeting some trekkers on route, I was i nformed that the trek to Monte Bianco offers its own beauty and seeing the refugio that night on a tv special about the region, showed its powerful position on the mountain, pretty impressive. When in the Alps I can't imagine a bad view.

Mont Blanc covered by cloud.

Trekking away from Elisabetta with Glacier Miage in the background.

As we climbed the slopes of the L’Arp Vieille I was more than impressed by the views of first the Glacier de Miage and then the entire face of the Mont Blanc Range (southern side) with the Val Veni down below.

Great Deuter backpack!

As we climbed up towards the highest point of Stage IV, Mont Favre Spur, 7,970’ we were fortunate enough to see a helicopter delivering loads for the upcoming ultra marathon. In fact, the helicopter flew right over us and dropped its cargo almost directly in front of us. It was an impressive site and sound and gave some notion to what mountain rescue might be like in these vast mountains.

The high point of the stage.

Great views of the Mont Blanc range.

Finally a photo of the two of us, thanks to the Cape Town girls.
After spending some time gazing at the Mont Blanc range we began our descent down towards Col Checrouit, and then down a very steep ski slope towards the beautiful town of Dolonne.

Once in Dolonne we had to navigate our way through the narrow stone alleys towards the village of Courmayeur. Here we found our accommodations – Hotel Wasler – where we’d stay for 2 nights. We went with a slightly higher scale hotel because we'd be there for 2 nights, and we were not doing any more strenuous hiking, so it was more like a vacation style for us, not to mention the hot tub. But there are plenty of affordable and lower end hotels/refuges to stay in if you are continuing on the 11 day trek.

Noteworthy is to mention that this place had the best breakfast. Each morning we'd awake to freshly baked croissants. The scent seriously filled the hotel and was amazing. Breakfast included coffee, tea, juice, croissants, cereals, fruit, cheese, deli meats, pastries, toast/bread, yogurt. It was an amazing spread.

View from Hotel Wasler.

Hotel Wasler

We decided it was cheaper and fun to go find some authentic Italian pizza and buy some Chianti at the groceria and chill out in our room. Padella’s made an amazing pizza that we could not get enough of, it had delicious thin crust, with flavorful tomato sauce, thinly sliced spicy sausage, grilled eggplant, red onion and mozzarella.
Tomorrow would be our last small trek to Bertone and back and then we'd have the afternoon to check out Courmayeur.
Stage IV Summary

Route: Main
Total Hours: 7hrs very slow pace this time to soak it all in
Total Kilometers: 18km
Accommodations: Hotel Walser
Accommodations Cost: 100€
Dinner: Pizza from Padella's and a bottle of Chianti
Breakfast: Everything and amazing freshly baked croissants.

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