Aiguillette des Houches, all about perspective

It doesn’t seem to matter where you are in the world or what you are doing there is always the potential to have a bad day. Which in essence is the choice you make in how you respond to your circumstances in the moment. And this was truly a selfish and first world bad day of wanting to fit in all the amazing experiences on this epic European adventure.

We knew when we booked our tour around Mont Blanc in June that it was a trade off of crowds versus the weather, but there is always that expectation that you’ll cheat the trade off and get both (low crowds, great weather). One of the key experiences we planned for was paragliding or Parapete. It was due to happen the following day, as that was the last opportunity to fly over the Les Bossons glacier before it became a no fly zone for the summer.

The forecast was for perfect weather today and storms tomorrow. My heart sank, I had  determined this walk was my least favourite and would have gladly given it up to paraglide but it was all too late for that and my chosen response had the potential to rob me of today’s experience while pining the loss of tomorrows. As I write this some months later it sounds ridiculous but in the moment that is what was happening.

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Torrent Bionnassay, swinging over

We’ve chosen to visit at a time where the crowds are generally less but the weather is not as predictable. This time last year many of the high passes were still snowed in and met many adventures with disappointment

This winter has been warmer and the snow in the high passes has already given way to melting but the weather this week is unsettled and as a result so is the schedule.

This morning’s breakfast announcement brings a switch and instead of mentally preparing for a tough hike up the face of the Aiguillette des Houches, we’re instead crossing the Col de Voza with today’s highlight being the swing bridge crossing of the Torrent Bionnassay and views of its Glacier.

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Aiguillette des Posettes, wind, mist and altitude

With a meal under our belts and a chance to meet the group, the first day opens with clear weather but quickly closes in. Hearts sink as we exit the bus to drizzle. Fortunately this walk starts in the woods and amongst the Larch and Pines it’s dry. As expected we start climbing almost immediately and soon come across the sounds of cow bells and alle alle, this is not Switzerland and they don’t sound like framers. Turns out we are walking on the final day of the Mont Blanc Marathon and an estimated 2000-3000 runners are in the mountains. We breathe a sigh of relief that we won’t have to encounter them and the inherent danger that poses.

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Paris to Chamonix

Poking about in a little loft room, not much bigger than a pantry we enjoy our one night in Paris, setting up for the experience of a lifetime, exploring the valleys and passes of the Mont Blanc Massif. The train is on time and there are many other hikers assembling on the platforms, packs and equipment on backs. It’s been a year in the planning and to say I’m a little apprehensive would be an understatement. I love mountains, but not exposed heights, it a conundrum I’ve been working on over the southern summer, pushing into longer, steeper, higher and more exposed walks.

While train travel is a wonderful way to get around Europe there is no simple A to B routes and most require multiple trains, today its 3.

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Walking on the Dragons Back

On a cheeky layover in Hong Kong, I managed to score a weekend on the tiny island and having been surrounded by people all week, longed for the quiet escape that every city has secretly tucked away. The enclave of the CDB is surrounded by lush beautiful forests, most easily accessed from the cable car up Mount Victoria. For the more adventurous, but train bound explorer the southeast offers some interesting areas to walk, namely the Dragons Back.

The Dragons Back arguably the most scenic section of the 50km Hong Kong Trail, stretches 8.5km through the Shek O Country Park. Aptly named as it undulates along the ridge, Shek O Peak at 284  provides commanding panoramic views  across  Shek O, Tai Long Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea.

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Takaosan, peaks, snow and ice

Japan is a fascinating country one of the most advances nations on earth, but also one of the most traditional. The juxtaposition of high rise multinational corporations, moving billions in trade and products, next door to temples that stood when the rest was all forest.

Tokyo is the seething heart of this island nation with over 20 million people passing through it’s arteries. Wedged in on Tokyo bay and hemmed by the mountains, the forerunners to the Japanese Alps, Tokyo offers the intrepid traveler and vacationer alike a unique experience.

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Chickens legs for lunch, it’s no KFC

In a previous post I wrote about my  once in a lifetime experience with the Great Wall of China, a childhood dreaming. At the conclusion of the walk we pushed further north within 300km of the Mongolian border to a little village for lunch, all part of the tour.

It was close to Chinese New Year and there were signs of the impending festivities everywhere making great photo opportunities of the celebration preparations. zig zagging our way through the cars, people and bikes it was becoming very apparent I was no longer in “touristville” and somehow had become the attraction. It didn’t help I was in a  private vehicle, sitting in the back like I was being chauffeured. I guess I was.

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