Author Topic: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc  (Read 992 times)

myxpyr

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Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« on: 19:15:15, 05/02/20 »
It looks likely that I will not be able to return to do the TMB this year :(
My plan, therefore, is to endeavour to try and maintain my fitness and head off there next year. Without wishing to sound negative I will be 75 by then :(
Does anyone know of anyone of a similar age(or older) who has done the TMB or a similar walk/trek? When I did (about half of) it in 2017 I don't recall finding it unduly knackering. Yes, it was steep in places but, doing it solo, I was able to do it at MY pace and plan my stages accordingly.
Any thoughts appreciated

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #1 on: 19:21:36, 05/02/20 »
I think Gunwharfman is a similar age to you and he has been pretty active on long distance walks. I am not sure if he has done the TMB recently, but hopefully he will come along and be able to give you some input.

myxpyr

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #2 on: 19:25:05, 05/02/20 »
I think Gunwharfman is a similar age to you and he has been pretty active on long distance walks. I am not sure if he has done the TMB recently, but hopefully he will come along and...
...and maybe carry my rucksack for me :2funny:

gunwharfman

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #3 on: 09:39:02, 06/02/20 »
I hiked and camped the Tour du Mont Blanc about 7 years ago, it was in July and I still think its the best of all of the walks that I've done. It's not just because of the views, etc, it's because of accommodation choices, villages are everywhere, its a circular 10-12 day trek and I met people from all over the world, plus of course, you get the chance to experience three countries as well. I later returned and did part of it again when I attempted the Haute Route to Zermatt the following year. Also, Chamonix is so easy to get to, fly to Geneva and jump on a bus. This was in July again but this hike failed halfway because of snow blocking the route ahead. I'm 75 this April and I'm sure I could still manage such a walk again without difficulty, I always had the GR5 in mind but have never got around to actually make the effort as yet. I walked a few hundred miles along the GR10 in 2015 when I was 70 and I feel confident that I could do something like that again if could get the 'urge' back again? For me nowadays, that's my problem, my lack of 'urge,' it's not my physical ability that stops me, it more to do with personal motivation. One drawback of hiking for me after so many years of sleeping in tents is having to, twice a day, to pitch my tent and get organised and then the following morning having to take it all down and get organised again. It can become really boring!!!

That's one of the reasons I'm trying to get more into bivi camping this year, far less messing about (and my rucksack is lighter) and for me it offers more opportunities to wild camp and not feel pressurised to get to any particular camp site at the end of the day.

Steveandsam

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #4 on: 18:47:52, 06/02/20 »
Age is just a number!... Its about ability!

myxpyr

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #5 on: 19:11:16, 06/02/20 »
I hiked and camped the Tour du Mont Blanc about 7 years ago, it was in July and I still think its the best of all of the walks that I've done. It's not just because of the views, etc, it's because of accommodation choices, villages are everywhere, its a circular 10-12 day trek and I met people from all over the world, plus of course, you get the chance to experience three countries as well. I later returned and did part of it again when I attempted the Haute Route to Zermatt the following year. Also, Chamonix is so easy to get to, fly to Geneva and jump on a bus. This was in July again but this hike failed halfway because of snow blocking the route ahead. I'm 75 this April and I'm sure I could still manage such a walk again without difficulty, I always had the GR5 in mind but have never got around to actually make the effort as yet. I walked a few hundred miles along the GR10 in 2015 when I was 70 and I feel confident that I could do something like that again if could get the 'urge' back again? ...
That's one of the reasons I'm trying to get more into bivi camping this year, far less messing about (and my rucksack is lighter) and for me it offers more opportunities to wild camp and not feel pressurised to get to any particular camp site at the end of the day.
I know what you mean about motivation. I have the same problem sometimes. Mind you, today was a beautiful day, overnight frost followed by a clear blue sky and not a breath of wind. The missus said "Are you coming shopping with me or are you going for a walk?" I was easily motivated ;D

gunwharfman

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #6 on: 13:01:48, 07/02/20 »
One bit of advice which I think is the best advice for anyone who is planning to hike the Tour Du Mont Blanc this year is to start to walk from Chamonix to Les Houches and then start the route properly from there and to hike in an anti-clockwise direction. The start section is flat, along an easy footpath to Les Houches on the right-hand side of the river and when you get to the Les Houches train station you are then on the TMB.

myxpyr

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #7 on: 14:44:32, 07/02/20 »
One bit of advice which I think is the best advice for anyone who is planning to hike the Tour Du Mont Blanc this year is to start to walk from Chamonix to Les Houches ...
When I went in 2017 I started from Les Houches but I'm afraid I "cheated" by taking the cable car to Bellevue

Doddy

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #8 on: 14:28:56, 18/02/20 »
Everyones fitness is different. Just because one 75 year old can do some trails doesn't meant other oldies can. I am 75 and last year did the Maximilian Way in Austria and Bavaria Alps and as I teamed up with a young German Climber I left the navigating mostly to him. I found out later we did the higher route as much as possible as he naturally wanted to climb. Some had Via Ferrata and ladders and areas had avalanche chutes which made life interesting. Some ridges were amazing and I reflected that adrenaline could be brown in underwear.
I have done the Geneva to Nice GR5, which if memory serves does some of the MBT - More recently I have done the GR5 from Hoek van Holland to Bergen Op Zoom.

gunwharfman

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #9 on: 16:26:30, 18/02/20 »
Doddy, I'm impressed. I keep telling myself I will hike more than a 14 day route this year so will look up the Maximilian Way and dream!

titch22

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #10 on: 09:37:03, 24/02/20 »
'I reflected that adrenaline could be brown in underwear.' ;D

jimbob

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #11 on: 09:43:46, 24/02/20 »
Watched the Abbie Barnes YouTube video of the TMB late last night, wow what a walk. BUT too many sharp edges and ladders to climb for my liking. The scenery though is astounding. Not sure I'll ever get to do that one soon but the thought has implanted itself that just maybe it can be walked avoiding some of the, to me, less appealing vertigo inducing sections.
Too little, too late, too bad......

gunwharfman

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #12 on: 10:11:06, 24/02/20 »
I thought the Tour du Mont Blanc was a comfortable walk, for me that what it became, more of a walk than a hard trek. A long one yes, hilly, a bit steep at times etc but not as I remember it, dangerous as such. And there are always people around plus campsites, refuges, hotels, villages etc. It's the stunning views I think that makes it look like its harder than it really is. It could be in bad weather of course but I was lucky, I had sunshine from beginning to end. Obviously there are different routes that can be taken that are a bit more difficult, like from Champex and over the Fenetre d'Arpette for example but this can be easily avoided by just taking the northerly route. they both end up in the same place, the hotel camping site at the Col de la Forclaz.

As for ladders, there are two, one beyond the Hotel Forclaz, which I believe can be avoided as well? Further on just above Chamonix there's a very easy one, I remember it as about 8 rungs. You come across this one on the last day of the hike down to Les Houches. It also can be avoided if you choose to scramble up the nearby rocks. To get to Les Houches there is just one short section where handrails are provided, the rocks underfoot are a bit uneven and the rails are just there to steady you.

jimbob

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #13 on: 11:24:49, 24/02/20 »
Abbie must have chosen the route with narriw paths on sheer cliffs with chains to hang onto and one day, long ladder after long ladder and in places wooden wobbly rungs bolted onto the cliff faces. The rest looks stunning. As you say GWM there are clearly ways to avoid those vertigo inducing drops which I will research whilst it is miserable weather. Winter is for dreaming is it not? Thanks.
Too little, too late, too bad......

gunwharfman

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Re: Old Farts Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc
« Reply #14 on: 12:11:03, 24/02/20 »
I think I climbed up over those 'wobbly rungs' although I don't remember them as such. What I do remember however is arriving at the base of the ladders and rungs on a very hot sunny day to be met by a queue of people all wanting to do the same thing, we all wanted to get to the top.

I'm sure there is a YouTube video of it and I will always remember a middle-aged English lady and her husband when she froze halfway up the first ladder section, she wouldn't go up and she wouldn't come down. Her husband pleaded with, he got angry with her, he pleaded with her again but she would not budge. Eventually he just a rung below her placed one palm on her bottom and pushed and pushed to get her going, I still remember the handprint, it must have stayed on her clothing for the rest of their walking day. She then finally moved, it was excruciating to watch, but eventually she did make it to the top. Everyone below cheered like crazy!

As I remember that section, it starts with a 20 rung steel ladder, then you have to sidestep onto some individual foot pads screwed into the rock, with steel handholds drilled into the rock at about head level, then another but short ladder section then, then a few more pads and then it's over with.

When I got to the top I was EXHAUSTED! With people ahead of me and the people behind me, progress was so slow and because of the weight and bulk my rucksack on my back and the hot sun blasting me, once at the top I just crawled under a rock drink water, rest and wallow in the shade.

I did find, however, because of my rural upbringing and knowledge of picking apples, pears and cherries directly from a ladder, I quickly used a technique which worked well. The knack is, (for those who have to climb such ladders) to raise your arms to the highest rung that you can reach comfortably and grip that rung. Then pull with your arms and push and climb with your legs until you cant continue, (keep both hands holding onto the single rung, only move your body and legs upwards, your hands keep you safe and secure) then once done, keeping both feet on the same rung stand up straight using each hand to 'climb' each rung at a time until you are at near full stretch again and then repeat your first action. I think it took me three of these body movements to get to the top of the first ladder.