July 14, 2019 · Community
This part of the TMB is excellent, whether you take the high route (longer, more difficult) or the lower one. The climb from Courmayeur to Rifugio Bertone is steep, so recommend an early start to beat the heat. From Bertone, the lower walk is an easy, mostly level stroll to Bonatti. The views of the Grandes Jorasses are fantastic, and wildflowers were everywhere when we walked the route in late June 2019. Take your time and enjoy, because check-in at Bonatti isn't until 3:30. From Bertone, the high route is perhaps even more beautiful, with views of the Grandes Jorasses from an even higher elevation, as well as views to the southeast. Rifugio Bonatti is nice, but rustic. Bring a towel, or pay 3 Euro to rent one. Bathrooms are shared, as are the showers (private stalls, though). Also, since there's a bus from Courmayeur up the valley, and it's just a short walk to Bonatti from there, you'll see a lot of lunchtime traffic. That evaporates by about 2:30. Anyway, here's the drill: 1. Check in at 3:30. Drop your stuff in your room, and get whatever you need for a shower. 2. Get a token for the showers (and a towel if you need it) from the front desk and head downstairs to the showers. Either do this ASAP or save it for later because long lines will form for the showers. 3. The showers. Sometimes the token works (and gives you hot water). Sometimes it doesn't. The coin slot is on the side of the blue box, inside the shower stall. You may have to feel for it. Strategy is as follows: get wet with cold (freezing) water before using your coin. Lather up. Now put the coin in, and hope for warm water. You're rationed a certain amount of warm water (i.e., it's volume, not time), so you can turn your warm water off and on to conserve it. 4. Dinner is at 6:45. Don't be late to your assigned table. There's plenty of food, and if you ask politely they just might bring you extra. As our entree we had quiches on a bed of roasted cabbage, and it was fantastic (we had thirds). Also, if you want a packed lunch for tomorrow, dinnertime is your last chance to order it (and you must pay by 10, I think). We got lunches, and were not disappointed. During dinner, a herd of cows was moved into the meadow below the Rifugio. Some folks who'd set their sink laundry out on the border tape around the Rifugio came back to find cow boogers on their stuff. Oops. 5. Quiet time is at 10, but since the hallway floor creaks you'll probably hear every single person who walks past your door to use the bathroom at the end of the hall. Beds are comfortable enough, but they give you a sleep sack (basically a sleeping bag the thickness of a sheet) and that's a bit confining. The rooms can smell a bit funky, like sweaty hikers. 6. Breakfast is at 6:15. Buffet style again, but you can sit wherever you'd like. Then options are more limited, but still quite good. Get out early to beat the rush toward Rifugio Elena (an easy, mostly level walk), followed by a long, steep climb to the Grand Col Ferret (with amazing views the whole way up).