A grey, overcast morning began with another huge climb. The Col de la Balme would be my final border crossing. Here I would step back into France, the first and last country of my journey.
I trudged up winding switchbacks through forest, munching on the last of my croissants as I walked. I soon rose above the treeline, scrambling my way around and across snow before reaching the broad saddle, upon which stood the Refuge de la Balme. Like 90% of the refuges I had passed on the Tour du Mont Blanc, it was closed at this time of year and looked like a creepy place to spend the night. A magical view of the Chamonix valley sprawled out below, leading southwest towards Chamonix and eventually my starting – and finishing – point of Les Houches. Read more