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Tour du Mont Blanc: Voie Toller- INTRO


Jo Toller is my skiing touring partner.  He has been cycle touring for many years all over Europe, and last Autumn he cycled across America aboard is "ultimate touring setup" with 700cc wheels, Rholoff internal gear hub, Ortleib panniers and silly shaped handlebars.  He also climbs and walks alot around Cham valley during the summers.  

For a couple of years now he has had this hybrid TMB route in mind.  Last year when I went to watch the Downhill World Cup in Val d'Isere I picked him up from Courmayeur on my return over the Petit St Bernard.  He'd left Cham and in 7 hours had reached Courmayeur.  He hadn't gone the road cycling route via the Grand St.B & Aosta, no, near Verbier he'd headed up the Swiss Val Ferret Valley as far as the road went past La Fouly and then pushed his bike over the Grand Col de Ferret and descended all the Italian Val Ferret Valley to Courmayeur town.

Having walked the TMB in the same, non classical, clockwise direction twice last summer whilst assisting a guide I knew that the second half to this trip back into France would be really tough.

But neither of us {can} run, so the UTMB is out of the question, as is doing the road TMB of 300km.  Which to be honest is nothing like the classic TMB taking in lots of the Val d'Aoste and Beaufortian area of France mies away from the Massif.

So TMB Voie Toller was created and a plan was formed having debated where we wanted to be in daylight, Col de Croix du Bonhomme basically! (I've never been up there in nice weather)  I was as fit as I was going to get this summer having done a few 2 hours climbs and many long hours standing around marshalling the Trans Savoie and I'd also rented a CUBE 29ner from EchoBase in les Praz. Jo was full of enthusiasm and had 3 caffeine energy gels from Aux Vieux Campeur.


  1. Thanks Oli, fascinating reading - and well done.
    Heinz (Jo's Dad)


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What guides do between work in the peak of July

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Verbier is a very mixed place.  There is great piste skiing & free-riding and access to world class ski touring, but more often its known for it's decadence.  Huge picture perfect chalets with wealthy families and their beaufituful/handsome ski instructors fill the resort. And if not that, the seedier side of ski resorts, the bankers with their paid for woman. . .

Talking of horrible, those exposed switchbacks half way down from the Chateau were bloody horrible, lucky the rest of the trail was very good fun.

Well of course, its Swiss Valais, the footpaths are "tip top" and the lift companies are bike friendly.  There were still a lot of pistes open for skiing, but after 11am you can use the lower lift from Le Chable to Verbier to access the snow free trails that lead back into the valley floor.  Time to explore:

Many thanks to Lorne for some of the cracking photos :

Diois & Barcelonnette

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Die, pronounced Dee, home to a delicious sweet smooth sparkling alcoholic drink called Clairette, is also home to some of the sweetest smoothest trails around.

A few years ago some mates did a race organised by the Bivouac Enduro team and came back raving about it.  More so the pairs racing format, but they said that the trails were great fun to ride with the company of a mate.

Back in spring before my summer guiding season kicked off I met my parents there for our annual holiday together.  The day I met my Dad he was turning a couple of years into his 60's.  All winter he had told me stories that him and his 'crew' had got into out riding there bikes in the Shire's, Boarders and Mid Wales area's. With this preparation in mind I knew he'd love the potential that lay ahead of us:

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