Posts

Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Days 6 and 7: Le Peuty to Les Houches

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

Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Day 5: La Fouly to Le Peuty

Apart from the the fact that I was burnt to a crisp, today was a fairly uneventful day. Not a single mountain pass to cross and minimal remote country to traverse.

It was almost unbearably sunny, and the gentle ten mile walk down the valley to Champex was lovely. From the campsite I followed the river straight down the valley, through a handful of tiny Swiss towns just waking up to the early morning. The only part offering anything close to excitement was an exposed narrow section of trail through which I had to grip onto a metal chain fixed to the rock face. Read more

Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Day 4: Refugio Bonatti to La Fouly

We left the refuge right after breakfast. It was a struggle to pry ourselves away from the cozy, warm interior but the bright sunshine was beckoning. For the first time since I started, all my clothes were dry. Although the sun was shining it was freezing cold but I was just glad there was no rain and the mountainous views were finally visible. This was to be the most stunning day so far.

We followed a nice, easy ridge contouring the slopes for a couple of miles before making our way right down to the valley bottom. Today would be be a much shorter day than the last few had been – just 13 miles with only one big climb. I’m on track to finish on Saturday so I can take it a bit easier now. Read more

Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Day 3: Lac Combal to Refugio Bonatti

I was shocked when I woke up to see that it was actually sunny outside. It was still freezing cold this early in the morning but I packed up my tent and wolfed down my breakfast (I’ve bought an industrial-sized sack of croissants to last me the whole week) so I could get as much walking as possible done while it was sunny. Read more

Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Day 2: Nant Borrant to Lac Combal

Today was one of the most difficult and exciting days of hiking I’ve ever done. A real change from the straightforward hiking of yesterday.

I set off early from the refuge as I knew it would be a long day. I was aiming to reach Lac Combal (I love camping by lakes) which was about 20 miles ahead with some difficult terrrain in between. Read more

Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Day 1: Les Houches to Nant Borrant

I hadn’t even started walking yet and already I was soaking wet and shivering, with blood all over my sleeping bag.

I flew into Geneva the day before and caught an airport transfer to the small French skiing town of Les Houches where I pitched up in the local campsite. With ski season firmly over and summer visitors yet to arrive, there wasn’t a single other person to be seen. Read more

Tour du Mont Blanc

A Spontaneous Adventure in the Alps

Spontaneous adventures are the best adventures.

That’s why tomorrow morning I’m flying out to the Swiss Alps to begin a 110-mile trek through the mountains.

I am leaving one job today and in ten days time I am starting another. In the meantime I’m faced with a nine-day stretch completely devoid of any commitments, stress or responsibility. To make the most of the free time I have left, I have decided to fill it with one last medium-sized adventure while I still can.

I had to find a trek I could complete in under a week. Something easy to get to but not too close to home. Something with mountains. Something challenging but also an established route I can follow to minimise planning.

After a thorough seven minutes of research I settled on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Read more

Olie Hunter Smart India

A Passage through India – Walking in the Footsteps of Gandhi

In less than a week’s time, Olie Hunter Smart will embark on a 2600 mile trek down the length of India, following in the footsteps of one of history’s most influential figures – Mahatma Gandhi. I talked to Olie about his preparations and expectations for the journey, as well as his most recent adventure – a source-to-sea kayak expedition along the length of the Amazon River.

  Read more

Learning to Embrace Negativity

The “F*** You” Factor – Dealing with Negativity

“I will not let people walk through my mind with their dirty feet”

– Mahatma Gandhi –

 

If there is one thing I’ve learnt from over three years and 4000 miles worth of adventures, it’s that people like to say no.

They will say things like:

“That’s not possible.”

“You can’t do it.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“You’ll never make it”

“It’s too dangerous.”

“You’re doing it wrong.”

“There’s nowhere to camp here, you should check into a hotel.” Read more

The Lost Art of Hitchhiking

I wait.

A lone figure standing at the roadside, thumb outstretched.

I wait.

Hunched forward with my neon green backpack weighing me down like a turtle too small for its shell.

I wait.

Looking for the shimmer of metal in the sunlight. Feeling for the vibration of the melting asphalt beneath my ragged boots. Listening for the hum of the engine. Any and all of the things that will herald the arrival of the inaugural vehicle in a long procession of cars, campervans and pickup trucks that all decelerate to a tantalising crawl before speeding up and carrying on down the dusty American highway.

I wait. Read more