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Hiking trail

Col Checroui to Rifugio Bonatti

· 1 review · Hiking trail · Mont Blanc and La Thuile
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Italian-style TMB way-marking
    / Italian-style TMB way-marking
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Gelato in Italy is a must!
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
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Walk from Refuge Maison Vieille to the renowned Rifugio Walter Bonatti, named so after the famous Italian mountaineer. Today's walk is punctuated with the vibrant town of Courmayeur, which you may find a bit of an assault on the senses after spending the previous evening in the mountains. However, it is an ideal place to stock up or grab some much-deserved gelato before continuing toward Rifugio Bonatti. 

One of the many charms that ensures Rifugio Bonatti is consistently a highlight of the Tour du Mont Blanc is its remoteness and the absence of any road to get there. This means there is no baggage transfer to Rifugio Bonatti, so take only your overnight things with you, and you will be reunited with your full luggage the following night.

difficult
16.8 km
6:30 h
1134 m
983 m

Your day begins with a steep descent to the Italian village of Courmayeur by a pretty forest path or cable car. In good weather the walk to Refugio Bonatti is guaranteed to be one of the most memorable of your Tour du Mont Blanc. Once in Courmayeur you make your way up to the Refuge Bertone before taking the main route contours around the flank of de la Saxe on an undulating path giving you plenty of time to take in the dramatic icy panorama of the Mont Blanc Massif and Grand Jorasses across the valley.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Sarah Stone
Updated: February 13, 2020

Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2039 m
Lowest point
1173 m

Safety information

Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains - always be prepared and carry appropriate clothing; warm as well as waterproof layers, hat and gloves etc. Please see your information pack for a detailed packing list.

Equipment

Such is the way of Alpine hiking that you need to be prepared for all seasons and weathers; sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required, as is plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.

Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

This walk is isolated with few opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Rifugio Bonatti

Walter Bonatti was an Italian climber who relished the challenge of climbing little-known and technically challenging mountains. He achieved several ‘first ascents’ including the Gasherbrum IV (the world’s 17th highest mountain), and pioneered many new routes up already climbed mountains. He was a mountain guide in Courmayeur and has a hut in Val Ferret dedicated to him. Be sure to pop inside to see some of his photos and equipment.

 

Duke of Abruzzi Alpine Museum

This museum was started by the Duke of Abruzzi, a titan of the mountaineering world during the early 20th century. The museum houses a wealth of documents, photos, climbing equipment and souvenirs which allow you to uncover 150 years of mountaineering history. The museum is in the Società delle Guide building in Courmayeur.

More information available here: http://www.guidecourmayeur.com/en/index.php

 

Transport

 If you want a shorter day today you can catch the cable car into Courmayeur or the bus from Courmayeur to Bivio Rifugio Bonatti in the Val Ferret and walk up to Rifugio Bonatti. It is a 400m climb from the road.

Cable Car / Chairlift from Col Chécrouit to Courmayeur

You can avoid the long steep descent from Col Chécrouit to Courmayeur by taking the chairlift and cable car.

The timetables for the lifts will be available at the start of the summer season and can be found here: http://www.lovevda.it/fr/base-de-donnees/5/remontees-mecaniques/courmayeur/telecabine-dolonne-plan-checrouit-et-telesiege-plan-checrouit-maison-vieille/4343  

A one-way ticket costs approximately €10 for the cable car and €5 for the chairlift.

Savda bus: Linea Courmayeur to Val Ferret

Operating daily from Courmayeur to Val Ferret via Bivio Rifugio Bonatti from the beginning of July until the beginning of September. Timetables are available at the beginning of the summer season and can be found here: http://www.savda.it/  -> click on Timetables and Prices - > Public Regional Line -> Val Ferret for Bonatti/Arnurva)

Start

Col Checroui (1884 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
45.793593, 6.937856
UTM
32T 339731 5073182

Destination

Rifugio Bonatti

Turn-by-turn directions

From Col Chécrouit the descent begins. From here the trail gets a little confusing with several routes to Courmayeur signposted. For the main TMB path bear right from the restaurant towards a crossroads. At the crossroads, continue straight on, passing just to the left of a ski lift and following the sign for Rifugio Le Randonneur. After 500 metres, bear left onto another gravel road to pass through the buildings that make up the refuge.

Immediately after passing Rifugio Le Randonneur, ignore a set of gravel tracks heading downhill, but then after 20 metres, turn right onto a gravel road signposted to Courmayeur that passes just to the right of a ‘Snack Bar.’ To the right of this snack bar is a small footpath, with an upright rock marked ‘TMB’. This narrow footpath will twist and turn downhill, and then walk parallel to a gravel road on your right.

After ignoring a narrow track leading to the Dolonne chairlift and Courmayeur Gondola stations, this path begins winding steeply downhill with one switchback lunging straight into the next. This path is narrow with exposed edges and can be dusty and slippery when dry, so walk with care. Walking poles will be of great assistance throughout this section.

The woodland path emerges onto the corner of a gravel road, but turn left to head continue heading downhill on a footpath. As you reach a paved road turn left to head towards Courmayeur, but first, you will pass through the quaint village of Dolonne, characterised by narrow streets and quintessential Alpine houses. Bear left through the no-entry signs to walk along the narrow street, and then after 200 metres, just before passing a church and post box, turn right onto Strada-Route Dolonne – Courmayeur. At the stop junction with a major road, turn left to head downhill, across the bridge and then up into Courmayeur. There are yellow ‘TMB’ signs and arrows to guide you throughout this section.

At the roundabout, take the third exit signposted to Centro, and then bear right as the path immediately forks. After 100 metres, bear left at the zebra (black-and-white road markings) crossing, following the sign to Centro Pedoni. At the next ‘Stop’ junction, bear left then bear right to arrive in Courmayeur in the pedestrianised centre. This is your first stop in Italy that offers a real opportunity to try some Italian food; why not find a Pizzeria or Focacciaria to replenish some of those spent calories?

Continue past the square in front of the Church of San Pantaleone in Courmayeur and bear uphill between the church and Societá des Guides. Walk along the road until a ‘Stop’ junction after 300 metres, where you bear right to continue uphill passing through the hamlet of Villair. Villair is a peaceful commune of Courmayeur characterised by alpine houses and sleepy, narrow streets.

This road will eventually become unpaved, crossing a bridge over a river. After 100 metres turn right sharply to leave the road and follow a rocky path uphill through the forest, following the TMB sign with yellow arrows. Bear right onto the gravel road, then after 20 metres turn left sharply onto a footpath, following the sign to Rifugio Bertone. This footpath will zig-zag steeply uphill through the trees.

You will burst above the trees to discover Rifugio Bertone. From here you can enjoy a final view to Courmayeur, and also the last opportunity to get some food or drink before Rifugio Bonatti.

Bear left as the path forks to pass under the avalanche barriers and to follow the sign to Rifugio Bonatti and Val Ferret. This path will remain mostly flat, walking high on the slopes of the valley with outstanding views on your left.  Ignore the left turn downhill as the path forks near some derelict huts and continue straight following the sign for TMB. As you reach the derelict hut of A. Leché, you must bear right to pass above it.

The path continues over a wooden bridge and passes the derelict alpine huts of Arminaz Desot. The path continues along the upper valley flanks, ignoring vague paths heading downhill on your left and uphill on your right.

As the path forks, bear right to take the worn path that zig-zags uphill. There is no signpost here but after a few minutes, you will see the welcoming structure of Rifugio Bonatti. Does any terrace in the world boast a better view? Why not enjoy a celebratory drink here?

Note


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Reviews

1.0
(1)
Mike Buchanan
September 07, 2019 · Community
Bonatti was very disappointing. 90 seconds for a hot shower, no hot water in sinks and food was crap. Not what I was expecting. View was only good thing going for it.
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Reviews
Difficulty
difficult
Distance
16.8 km
Duration
6:30h
Ascent
1134 m
Descent
983 m

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