I confess that my recent journeys in Europe has meant that the Tour du Mont Blanc preparation has taken a back seat with the exception of our weekly gym visits to continue our fitness work. We're off to the Carneddau this weekend which will be the last opportunity for a decent long-distance hillwalk with some good ascent, as well as well as few Trail 100 peaks into the bargain. Also, I've a new piece of kit to test, sent to me by Montane, but more on that when I get back. We'll knock off 40-50km and 1000m this weekend I would think, which will be good.
I have managed to, this evening, book our flight tickets to Geneva (flights to Grenoble being very hard to come by out of season) which means, on arrival in Geneva, either a train to Chamonix/Les Houches (which seems problematic and involves a change or two) or a cab from Alpybus.com which would set us back about €23.50 each it would appear. Sadly, the flights are with easyJet whom I find uniformly poor but there is not much choice - we'll just have to put up with endless delays, ill-informed staff and hideous orange daubing everywhere. We depart early Saturday morning, arrive in Les Houches, hopefully, mid-afternoon and will then have some time to get last minute bits and pieces and relax before starting early on Sunday morning. I've also booked a hotel for the first night and I'll get to reserving places in dortoirs at mountain refuges for the first few nights this weekend. After that, we'll do it en route as I do not want to be tied to a particular timetable. It all sounds rather civilised according to the various reviews of the accommodation on the internet so even though each day is a fairly vigorous fitness test, recovery will be easier than if wild camping although, secretly, I'd rather be camping it.
The gear list has already been posted and can be found on the "Gear Lists" page at the top of this journal of mine and HERE. The main issue lately has been whether to take a change of clothes and stash it somewhere for 'travelling' in. We're undecided on that, as yet, but the current feeling is that we'll just wear what we're hiking in. My companion thinks it'll be rather amusing to 'mince around Geneva' when we've finished in 11 day beards, sweaty, dirty and causing sightings of Sasquatch to be posted on the internet - should give the Swiss a fright and we'll probably get arrested. That said, my plan is to wash our kit using a tried and tested independent travel method - shove dirty clothes into a drybag, with water and camp soap, close the drybag, shake violently, rinse, shake violently again, rinse and then, when all the soap is gone, hang it all out in a drying room. I think we'll only need to do that twice and the refuges should provide us with drying room facilities. Otherwise, we'll just smell lots (which will guarantee is plenty of space in the dortoirs...)
We'll probably wrap our rucksacks in a bin liner together, packing tape adorning the outside, and that'll be the one piece of 32kg hold luggage I've just reluctantly given easyJet £18 for. Thieves.
I've been reading another blog recently, Traverse Japan, which attracted me initially because of the truly wonderful header image, but the blog is extremely interesting. Hamilton is heading off to do the Coast to Coast of Japan, taking in every 3000m peak en route. His is a very fresh, smooth, honest and self-deprecating prose and I'm really enjoying reading it. His preparations have been rather more herculean than mine - we are not camping, we are staying in refuges; we will not be taking much in the way of long-term food as much of it can be secured en route; we will be treading a well-defined and straightforward path. He seems to have much more of a challenge ahead of him and I am ever so slightly jealous! I wish him the very best of luck and look forward, with almost breathless anticipation, to his report when he gets back.