MONT BLANC HIGHLIGHTS
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The most inspirational aspect was without doubt the way in which the whole group and the locals rallied round in an emergency. Luckily, we had a doctor and a nurse within the group, although there was nothing that could be done to save our fellow walker. The helicopter rescue service and local cafe owners all played a part, as did the group members and the Exodus staff, who helped the daughter over the next few days. The general conclusion of the group was that, tragic as the death was, there was something to be said for an instant and painless death on the slopes of the most magnificent mountain in Europe. I already agreed with the Nike slogan, but this event just serves to reinforce the reality that life is fleeting. "Just do it !"
What did you think of your group leader?
Mark was a genial, knowledgeable and experienced guide. He quickly assessed the abilities of the group and made sure that everyone knew what was proposed for each day. He was calm and controlled during the incident described above and instilled confidence in the group as a whole.
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
All of the walks started with a steep and unrelenting climb for at least a couple of hours. It would be unwise to sign up to this tour without making an effort to get fit beforehand. We followed the advice of John & Jayne and previous reviewers and went to the nearby Hotel Aguille du Midi on the "cooks night off". This restaurant offered several menus including a five course menu at E33 and some decent wines at under E20. The food, the atmosphere and the service were extremely good. If this restaurant were near me, I'd be there every week ! On our "day off" we took the cable car up the Aguille du Midi and then traversed to the Mer du Glace and took the train back down to Chamonix. At 3840m the AdM quite literally takes your breath away, with incredible views down the valley and across the Mont Blanc massif. The much diminshed Mer du Glace looked a sad and rather pathetic shadow of the photos on the station wall showing the glacier 100 years ago
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The food prepared by John & Jayne was of a very high standard. This was clearly illustrated at the end of the week when they offered to provide copies of their recipes and there was a stampede to sign up. Their soups and cakes were delicious and their duck with port wine and blueberries would not have been out of place at a classy restaurant. Luckily they only served up tartiflette as a nod in the direction of "cuisine Savoyarde." I accept that many guests expect to taste the local cuisine, but my personal view is that most of the mountain cuisine is a thinly diguised attempt to reduce the Savoyarde cheese mountain. Had there been any mention of Fondue I'd have been back at the hotel Aguille du Midi ! Chamonix has more cafes, bars, restaurants and shops than you could visit in a month. I'd recommend you always ask to see the menu before ordering, and that way you might avoid paying E8 for a glass of beer !