A final col-top border crossing brings you back into France with majestic views along the entire western sweep of the Mont Blanc massif, dropping into the Chamonix Valley to finish for the day.
Escape the clutches of the sleepy village of Trient to begin the climb to France. Be sure to look left, particularly if you skipped the Fenêtre d’Arpette route yesterday, to admire the mighty Trient Glacier.
The Swiss section of the last few days can sometimes feel slightly removed from the biggest mountains, but as you make your final steps to the Col de Balme (2,191m) they reappear with a shocking grandeur. The entire western sweep of the Mont Blanc massif - chaotic glaciers, craggy spires, rock buttresses and the icy summit dome of Mont Blanc itself - stretches tantalisingly into the distance and almost appears like you could reach out and grab it. Of course, while you may not recognise them, you are familiar with these mountains already, having walked in their shadows on the other side in Italy’s Val Veni and Val Ferret. The astounding views only improve as you continue walking, eventually reaching a climax as you step onto the peak of Aiguilette des Posettes (2,201m) and let the 360° vista of mountains completely envelop you.
After finishing in Tré-le-Champ, you can walk or catch the bus to reach your overnight accommodation in Argentière. It is a pleasant and well-signposted 40 minute walk downhill, if you have the energy. Buses from Tré-le-Champ are irregular so if you arrive in time, perfect! Otherwise, it is a 10-15 minute walk to Montroc (well-signposted) from where buses run to Argentière twice-hourly. Full bus schedule available here; https://chamonix.montblancbus.com/en/bus-lines
Grab a coffee atop the Col de Balme, then sit back and savour the view!
There are several river crossings. There are always stepping-stones available but these may be slippery, and especially when wet. Take extra caution on these crossings.
Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.
There are some exposed edges; be sure to read instructions carefully, stick to the main path, and don’t wander close to the edge. Use handrails where provided.
In early spring/summer there may still be patches of snow. Walk around where it is possible, and otherwise place your feet carefully and use walking poles if you have them.
This route is above 2,200 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.
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
Aiguilette des Posettes
From the craggy summit of Aiguilette des Posettes you can enjoy a 360° panorama, including along the entire western sweep of the Mont Blanc massif. It looks especially dramatic later in the day as the golden hues of sunset paint the snow-capped peaks.
Bus from Tré-le-Champ to Argentière
There are regular buses to Argentière from Tré-le-Champ, just make your way to the bus stop on the main road, which has a bus timetable attached
Food and Drink
Between Trient and Tré-le-Champ there are few opportunities to buy food or drink, so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.
Basking in the beautiful view atop Col de Balme after 5.9 kilometres is Chalet du Col du Balme, from where you can enjoy refreshments.