A tour around the Tour du Mont Blanc - Day 5, Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
This surely is one of the most spectacular days of the TMB with unrivaled and varied scenery all day.
Not such a long day - four to five hours; and not too much ascent, 860m, or descent, 700m, should allow for as much admiring of views and photo stops as you wish.
From the centre of Courmayeur you need to locate the Strada del Villair, a narrow road between the church and the Guides office at the main elevated square.
This road winds up through some beautiful buildings and gardens before reaching the sometimes narrow hamlet of Villair (1327m) after about thirty minutes.
Continue through Villair on the track before climbing up through the forest towards the Rifugio Bertone. After an initial ascent, you start to get tantalizing glimpses of Courmayeur trough the trees almost 700m below you. Breaking out above the trees you are instantly rewarded with stunning views back up towards the Col de la Seine and the towering summit of Mont Blanc above you. A short walk takes you to the Rifugio Bertone (1898m), a great place for a rest!
A short climb above and to the right of the Rifugio Bertone, the path starts its traverse round the side of the great Mont de la Saxe ridge, above Val Ferret. Its about 2 hours to the Refugio Bonatti with the path undulating along this fantastic balcony with outstanding views both of the entire south side of the Massif and some spectacular views of the Grandes Jorasses starting to open out. This path is also a great place for spotting a huge variety of wild flowers including wild gentians.
An alternative route is the walk over Mont de la Saxo and would be one of the highlights of the TMB but it is a strenuous day adding approximately two and a half hours and 600m of ascent to the day. If you are considering this it would be worth deciding the night before and making an earlier start.
This route starts above the Rifugio Bertone, when the TMB starts traversing, take the right path junction signposted Col Sapin (Route 42). Follow this up steeply, then more gently up the main ridge before traversing up to the summit ridge of Tête de la Tronche (2584m).
The summit provides a magnificent viewpoint with mountains all around! A steep descent takes you to the Col Sapin. Take a left here and a short descent to the Alpe de Secheron where you turn right and ascend to the Pas entre deux Sauts (2524m).
There are amazing views from here looking all the way back up Val Veny to Col de la Seine.
A gentle and pleasant descent takes you down through the pastures of Malatra to the Rifugio Bonatti.
The Rifugio Bonatti (2025m) is a well appointed hut opened in 1998. It was named after the world famous alpinist and explorer Walter Bonatti.
Enjoy your last night in Italy as tomorrow we are off to Switzerland......