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.
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.
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.
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.
Points of Interest
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
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)