What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Too many to mention. I loved all of the walks and in particular the decent into Les Chapieux via the brand new path. Tons of butterflies and marmots to gawp at. The breathtaking view from the Grand Col Ferret, as well as the rewarding scenery at the top of Brevent after the demanding ascent on the last walking day were also favourites. The cable car on day 7 to see the views of Mont Blanc and surroundings were incredible.
What did you think of your group leader?
John was amazing - the best mountain leader I've experienced. I learnt so much and the pace he set, particularly for the steep ascents, meant that our legs could withstand the full tour, without too much strain. I personally was pleased to find that I didn't find it as challenging as I thought I would and I think that was mainly due to the 'fairy-steps' approach we used when ascending and descending. He offered extra challenges for those who were keen and I will try and always remember the 'Tent Commandments' - our invaluable group/John-led 'rules' for hiking. He always kept good humour and his knowledge of the mountains, rocks and trees was brilliant. Clare, the campsite leader was so lovely, as was her cooking! Brilliant and creative cooking, as well as huge amounts of patience and composure - especially when the heavens opened frequently during the evenings. John and Clare are a brilliant team and I can't thank them enough.
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Use walking poles. I never had before and I definitely needed them on the descents. Get as fit as you can prior to the trip. Bring lots of Compede just in case. A lightweight umbrella is useful in the campsites. Anti-bac too. If you like to eat protein bars on a hike, bring them from home as they are much more expensive on the tour (as as is Compede). Waterproofs obviously. For me, bringing a map and going over what we'd done every night, was really rewarding. Highlights in camp were the endless games of UNO, Monopololy Deal and other card games. Lots of laughter and camoraderie when the weather wasn't so great.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
On day 8, save a banana from breakfast and have the dark, thick, hot chocolate in the Bonatti refuge. Dip the banana in the hot chocolate and enjoy!