Friday, July 20, 2018
Start: Courmayeur, Italy, Hotel Berthold
End: Rifugio Bonatti
Elevation: 4336′ gain, 1681′ descent
After a late night last night, we decided to sleep in. We slept until 8am and then went downstairs for breakfast. The hotel offered the most elaborate breakfast I’ve ever seen; there were cheeses, breads, eggs, jams, cereals, yogurts, fruit, coffee, and more. It was a bit overwhelming but absolutely delicious. We took our time and ate our fill. We then packed up our backpacks and headed out from the hotel around 9:30am. We stopped at the pharmacy on the way out of town to pick up more ibuprofen, and then headed out of town on the TMB.
We followed a paved road until it turned to dirt, and then past a parking lot where it turned into a trail. The trail headed up switchbacks through evergreen forests for an hour or so, until it exited the forest and went above treeline, right near the Rifugio Bertone (1989m/6525′). We stopped for a lunch snack and to fill up on water, and then headed out.
The trail followed the undulations of the mountainside, with small gains and losses, through green fields of wild flowers with gorgeous views of the Monte Blanc range to our left. There was no substantial elevation again until we were very close to our day’s destination, Rifugio Bonatti (2025m/6642′). That required a quick uphill hike to reach the hostel. For the last few hours of hiking, we watched storm clouds come in and gather around Monte Blanc and surrounding mountains. While we heard thunder once and had a little bit of light sprinkles, there wasn’t any precipitation, much to our relief.