TMB Day 2, La Fouly to Rifugio Bonatti

  • August 16th, 2018

  • 23.1km | ascent 1351m | descent 945m

  • Accommodation: Rifugio Bonatti (booked direct by email, €100 including dinner and breakfast)

After a good night’s sleep, we were downstairs at breakfast when it opened at 7am. There was a choice of cereal, yoghurt, bread and jams. Knowing today would be more demanding than yesterday, we ate quickly and set out in the cool morning air before 8am.

I’ve been a long time user of hiking poles, and I guess it’s an old habit, but I always look under bridges if there’s any chance that someone could’ve lost a rubber tip from their poles! Dad had forgotten to bring rubber tips so I gave him the one spare tip I had for the odd bit of road walking, then told him to look under the first bridge we came to soon after leaving, and wouldn’t you know it, we found him the second rubber tip he needed! After 40 minutes we arrived in a village called Ferret and filled up our water bottles from the fountain.

TMB Day 2, La Fouly to Rifugio Bonatti

TMB Day 2, La Fouly to Rifugio Bonatti

Main street in Ferret

Main street in Ferret

TMB Day 2, La Fouly to Rifugio Bonatti

A chapel in Ferret

We had an option now for a low or high route, with both routes joining up at Le Peule farmhouse. We decided on the low route (still easing into the trail), but soon after, while climbing a ridiculously never-ending steep hill, we realised we were on the high route and had no idea how, when or why this had happened! Pausing every few seconds to regain our breath, knowing we were on our way to a farmhouse with refreshments (and hopefully cake) was the ‘dangling carrot’ we needed to keep going.

And yes, there was cake, 2071m high at La Peule farmhouse! Well, apricot tart to be precise, and it was terrific! I had forgotten how much of a sweet tooth my dad (and I) have, but this is going to be one very sweet cake tour of the TMB!

Stunning views on the TMB

Stunning views on the TMB

Walking up to La Peule farmhouse from Ferret

Walking up to La Peule farmhouse from Ferret

La Peule farmhouse at 2071m high

La Peule farmhouse at 2071m high

Sharing a delicious apricot tart at La Peule farmhouse

Sharing a delicious apricot tart at La Peule farmhouse

A yurt at La Peule farmhouse

A yurt at La Peule farmhouse

Leaving La Peule farmhouse, the climb continued, and continued… steeply in parts but was always well defined and there were plenty of people walking in both directions at all times. After 1.5 hours from the farmhouse, we reached the top of the Grand Col Ferret on the border of Switzerland and Italy, 2537m high – the highest pass we’d cross on the TMB.

Still climbing up to the Grand Col Ferret on the Swiss/Italian border

Still climbing up to the Grand Col Ferret on the Swiss/Italian border

And still climbing up to the Grand Col Ferret on the Swiss/Italian border

And still climbing up to the Grand Col Ferret on the Swiss/Italian border

Finally on top of the Grand Col Ferret and standing on the Swiss/Italian border looking at Italy

Finally on top of the Grand Col Ferret and standing on the Swiss/Italian border looking at Italy

Dad at the Swiss/Italian border on top of the Grand Col Ferret with Italy in the background

Dad at the Swiss/Italian border on top of the Grand Col Ferret with Italy in the background

Grand Col Ferret, 2537m

Grand Col Ferret, 2537m

On top of Grand Col Ferret looking towards Italy

On top of Grand Col Ferret looking towards Italy

There was a cold wind on top and we were very sweaty from the climb, so after a few pictures, we started the descent into the Italian Val Ferret with incredible valley, mountain and glacier views. We arrived at Rifugio Elena just after 1pm and decided to make this our lunch break. We found a flat area away from the refuge and pulled out our cheese, ham and crackers which made a wonderful lunch, followed by fruit and chocolate. We continued descending to the valley floor then stopped for a quick ice cream and topped up our water at the very busy Chalet Val Ferret, before beginning to ascend for the rest of the day.

Descending into the Italian Val Ferret from Grand Col Ferret

Descending into the Italian Val Ferret from Grand Col Ferret

Looking down on Rifugio Elena

Looking down on Rifugio Elena

The view from Rifugio Elena

The view from Rifugio Elena

Lunch of ham, cheese and crackers near Rifugio Elena overlooking Glacier de Pre de Bar, Mont Dolent and Aiguille de Triolet

Lunch of ham, cheese and crackers near Rifugio Elena overlooking Glacier de Pre de Bar, Mont Dolent and Aiguille de Triolet

Winding along the Val Ferret valley

Winding along the Val Ferret valley

Looking back to the Grand Col Ferret where we descended from

Looking back to the Grand Col Ferret where we descended from

The Italian Val Ferret

The Italian Val Ferret

Ice cream break at Chalet Val Ferret

Ice cream break at Chalet Val Ferret

Climbing again, up to our accommodation at Rifugio Bonatti, we chatted the whole way and it was a very enjoyable walk with awe-inspiring views.

A hobbit house?

A hobbit house?

More stunning mountain and glacier views on the Tour du Mont Blanc

More stunning mountain and glacier views on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Crossing bridges and waterfalls on the TMB

Crossing bridges and waterfalls on the TMB

Old farm buildings along the Italian Val Ferret, TMB

Old farm buildings along the Italian Val Ferret

Rifugio Bonatti, 2025m high

Rifugio Bonatti, 2025m high

Our bunk room at Rifugio Bonatti - 5 women and my dad!

Our bunk room at Rifugio Bonatti – 5 women and my dad!

When we arrived at Rifugio Bonatti, we were shown to our bunk room. We were sharing the room with three South African women (dad’s age) and one young American women… so 5 women and my dad! They were all walking the trail in the anti-clockwise direction, opposite to us, as was most people we’d now met over the past two days. Everyone was very friendly although I’m sure they were worried dad was going to snore! (I was too, originally, but it turns out he’s a very quiet sleeper and a great room mate!)

To operate the shower you needed to insert a free token (from reception). On my first attempt of showering, my breath was abruptly taken away with glacial ice cold water. It was so cold it was painful and that was just the splashes as I tiptoed on the edge of the shower basin. I dried off the few splashes, put on my evening clothes on my still salt-ridden and sweaty body and wandered how on earth the mirror could be fogged up if the water was like icicles? One of the South African women we were sharing the room with came out of the cubicle next door looking relaxed and clean, and told me she’d had a lovely hot shower. Take 2. Although the hot water trickled out, it was all I needed to rub the dirt away and putting on my evening clothes the second time in a matter of minutes felt considerably nicer.

Dinner was served at 6:30pm and was salad, pasta, courgette and a vegetable fritter with mash potato and a sweet yoghurt dessert. It was a huge meal but perfect after a long hike. We were sat at a long table with a French couple, a brother and sister from Taiwan and two Canadian guys. The French man told us all about the UTMB (Ultra marathon of the TMB) that starts on the 27th August – we’ve been seeing signs for it in all the villages and he’s going to volunteer during the race. It’s so incredible to think that people can run this trail, all 170km in around 20 hours!! Crazy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After dinner I set up my mini tripod and took a few photos of the mountains opposite the refuge as the sun set. The general consensus of the room is to wake at 6am.

TMB Day 2 - Garmin Connect Info

TMB Day 2 – info from Garmin Connect

TMB Day 2 - profile from Garmin Connect

TMB Day 2 – profile from Garmin Connect

Today was a little more demanding and steep than the guide suggested!

Advertisements

Comments or questions? Go for it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s