MONT BLANC CIRCUIT
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
There were many great moments during the trip a few of the inspirational/memorable moments: The high point of our trip for the whole group - Tete Nord des Four (2665m). As the weather was good the whole group completed an optional detor to this peak and were rewarded by a fantastic 360 degree panorama of the Alps including Mont Blanc & the Matterhorn. The celebrations in the group photo say it all. The view from our tents at the Campsite in Les Bosson, Chamonix - in particular waking up early on the final day to Mont Blanc & Aiguille de Midi silluetted by the early morning sun rising behind them and lighting up the clouds above the mountains. Getting to see the leaders in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc at the checkpoint at the Refuge Bonatti and seeing many more of the competitors later in the day on our way to Courmayeur. On the second rest day walking the ridge above les Contamines (Mont Joly to Aiguille Croche) after enjoying a fantastic breakfast in a cafe in the village. The views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding area were fantastic and I had the ridge to myself for most of the trip.
What did you think of your group leader?
Graham our leader was fantastic - he worked increadbly hard to ensure that everyone in the group had a fantastic holiday regardless of their fitness level/ability. For myself his optional extensions and challenges ensured I wasn't sitting around and got some good challenges. The extra extensions to peaks near the route gave even better views and gave the group time to regroup. Graham's knowledge of the area was very good and his leadership skills ensured everyone had a great trip. For the rest days he had some great suggestions for everyone - from visiting the Decathlon R&D centre for a gentle day to an easy Via Ferrata for those of us that wanted a challenge. For me personally these extras really made the trip, including letting myself and two others sign-out of the trip to complete the more challenging Arpette route on Day 3 by ourselves. Chris our Cook, Transport & Campsite co-ordinator was also fantastic - his cooking skills were legendary and his/Graham's choice of resturants for the nights out were brilliant.
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Go for it this is one of the classics in the Alps and the Exodus trip is very well organised. Fitness - get as fit as you can before the trip - the days are quite challenging and that extra fitness really helps you to enjoy the amazing land you are travelling through. The extra walks/peaks I was able to do due to my fitness level really made the trip for me. Camping vs. Hotel - if you are trying to decide go for the camping - you get a much better sense of travelling around the tour; most of the campsites are fantastic and the food you get is amazing both in camp and at the resturants. We did have good weather on the main - though a lot of the sites had good shelters for eating/sheltering from the rain. Weather - Thunderstorms are common in the evenings/ovenight and it can get very cold overnight so be prepared for that. Don't leave your towel on top of the tent on a cold night to dry as folding it in the morning becomes a challenge. Equipment - Good boots and walking poles are a must, if it is hot a hydration bladder is also useful, though there are plenty of refuges along the way for beer/coffee/hot chocolate and if you go in August lots of Murtle Tarts to be eaten.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Most of the campsites on the trip are great, there is one exception which is the first night in Switzerland at Trient, this is a basic camp between a road and a cement works, this is the one mentioned in previous reviews. In our case we had a thunderstorm shortly after arriving so the campfire was out, we did make good use of the wooden pagoda for dinner to shelter from the rain. It is great to see Exodus responding to the comments however I am puzzled by them; there is one if not two alternatives to this campsite in the area that could be used. The Hotel version of this trip uses a Hotel at Col de Forclaz about 20-30 mins up the valley - this Hotel has a campsite if this was used it would also give the two trips a chance to meet and socialise, something we didn't do much of until the second basic camp where we had dinner in their hotel. The second option is at the other end of the village at the La Peuty end, there seems to be another basic site that could be an option and that is away from the main road and cement works.