Before relating the tale of this adventurous route I should fill in the gaps and relate the tale of Tim’s talking knees. Yesterday Ray and I, keen to swim in the welcoming waters of Champex Lake persuaded Tim to join us. We had a great swim but Tim only ventured a far as his knees, which he claimed, told him it was too cold. Just goes to show you should never listen to your knees when they don’t know what they’re talking about.
As the only vegetarian in the party our meal was a starter of cold meats followed by raclette, basically melted cheese while I had a salad with boiled potatoes while I had a salad. So far so good, until the others were getting their 2nd and 3rd helpings of raclette. In sure that without reconstructions and protestations to the waiter I would have sat there hungry. Anyway, turned out all right in the end.
Enough about me. The fenetre d’arpette is the highest point on the TMB at 2665m and is described as a variant and not what we were “supposed” to do being to hard for us oldies. Tony and Andy were keen and I’d fancied it from first reading about the TMB so was a willing recruit in spite of the promised high temperature and lack of shade. We soon left the others and slogged up a hill under the ski lift beat our way through trackless pine forest before regaining the TMB route.
Uncomplicated in itself it became unrelenting in its steepness (or should that be relentless?) climbing through a boulder field before we reached the fenetre at about 12.30. The heat wasn’t the problem, it was the gradient and the altitude which had a significant effect on me. Tony, who’s not at all competitive, was keen to point out we’d overtaken 8 people on the way up and we’d not been passed by anyone. He added to his personal tally by overtaking a further 4 on the way down.
Accompanied by flocks of choughs and the usual plethora of wild flowers the descent on the far side was cooler than expected, possibly because air was being cooled by the breeze coming off the Trient glacier, retreating but still nevertheless imposing and its meltwater filling the torrent, the sound of which accompanied our descent after the silence of the climb up.
A long and tiring descent was compensated by a cafe at the bottom providing beer at Swiss prices after which an easy gentle descent following a stream that Andy maintained was used for floating ice down to the villages to keep food fresh. I’m not sure I believe him. But it did remind us of the lavadas in Madeira.
We finally arrived at Auberge de Mont Blanc in Trient only minutes after the others after another cracking day on the TMB.