The Haute Route – Day 1, Chamonix to Argentière, France

Departing from Zurich for the starting point Chamonix, France.

It was a sunny day and we left by train gazing at the fabulous view above Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). More dramatic views are hard to find even in this beautiful Switzerland. The vineyards hit the shore of the lake, while the French alps soar on the other side of the lake. Wow.

On the InterCity from Lausanne to Martigny, we chatted away with a friendly Swiss flight attendant from the region. In Martigny we changed to the Mont Blanc Express and this cute red train climbed up to the narrow Chamonix Valley, which is so steep and deep that we could not see the bottom from the train. 

Charming Chamonix, along L’Arve river

In Chamonix we were lucky to be welcomed by a clear view of Mont Blanc! The snow of the mountain was shining under the sun and the town was teeming with tourists. We quickly gave up the idea of getting up to the Aiguille de Midi after being told that it would be a 2-hour wait. But we saw another tele-cabin going up to the other side, Le Brévent, and Sano-san hopped on to have a 360-degree view from the Le Brévent side of the valley. His excitement was contagious. A great start!

We dropped by at the “Maison de la Montagne” (The House of Mountains) and the people explained us how to get to Argentière and gave us tips for the further routes on Fenetre d’Arpette. No go for this route due to the thunderstorm warning : (( This place was full of mountaineers and climbers, who were discussing their plans leaning over maps. Loved the atmosphere : )

Looking back at Mont Blanc

After buying some necessary hiking items such as water and gas for the Jetboil boiler, we started the 1st part of the Haute Route walking along the river and continued up to the The Petit Balcon Nord. The path was different from the one in our guidebook, but recommended by the guy at the Maison de la Montagne. After coming out in the pasture, we could clearly see the Mont Blanc mountain range behind us and could not help but turning our head back again and again to get another glimpse of the majestic scenery. 

While walking up just a little in the forest, however, both of us started (already!) suffering from our heavy backpacks. This made us seriously worried about what was still to come. We have to hike up und down 1000m in a day in average. Can we really do this, for the next 2 weeks??

Passing beautiful French villages and cute farm houses, we arrived at the town of Argentière. It is a relatively large village, snugly settled in the valley. People were out there in the square having dinner and it was a pleasant atmosphere.

Evening view of Trient from Argentière

From our hotel balcony, we would see Trient turning red and it was a great start. We had a pleasant dinner with pasta and risotto in a nearby restaurant, a bit worried about the weather and our fitness level for this hike…

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