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How to retrieve a car, the Chamonix way

My car was left at somebody else's house a few hours drive away.

I could have gotten somebody to drive me around to collect my car that had been left near Aime in the neighbouring department of Savoie. I even had the idea to borrow a road bike and finally do the huge climb out of Beaufort and over the Cormet de Roseland.

Instead the Tom's joined for a two day Oli-venture across the mountains.  There was hope for great singletrack, and I did warn them about some height gain.  It's just a shame many of the vertical metres gained where whilst pushing our bikes.
Near the Col du Bonhomme looking into the Beaufortain
We left Notre dame de la Gorge and pedalled for about 1 kilometre before the first section of pushing began.  And so it carried on for about 5 hours, ride, push, hike a bike, ride a little more and push even more.  Luckily we were fresh, the banter crude and the views in every direction were beautiful.  The views and sunset really made up for it all!

Arriving just before dark at the Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme we tucked into our freeze dried tartiflette. It's out of season now so there is no guardian to look after you. Freeze dried meals are an expensive but very efficient way to eat.  We had packed as light as possible for this trip. For me: 1 set of riding clothes (long sleeve light weight merino jersey, 3/4 lycra tights, baggy shorts, mid weight waterproof jacket, 1 pair of gloves, 2 pairs of socks plus a mirco down jacket) a sleeping bag liner, food, pocket rocket stove and a light weight saucepan.  By arriving late we'd missed the opportunity to grab the 6 beds right by the wood burning stove so were up in the cold winter room dorm. Luckily there were only 2 other people in the dorm so the three of us had about 5 blankets each.
Uno before bed in the Refuge
We awoke to glorious views and clear skies.  We left on downhill singletrack right out of the refuge door.  What better way to start your day! It was soon time to climb a little to get onto the wonderful ridgeline descent.  It was stunning and great to ride, even if the north side was slightly frozen.  We descended for around 600 metres on fun singletrack with the odd bit of farm track to cross over.
Leaving the refuge in the morning sun
Next the big climb. To begin we were on road and span up chatting together, then fire-road where we continued to chat.  We reached the start of the footpath, and started pushing, silence took over. About 4 hours later after lunch, caffeine energy gels we'd crossed the boulder field and reached the snowy col.  The boys were tired.  I was on the edge of getting cold. The views were still stunning as we looked over the Pierra Menta from an angle I'd not seen before.  After what we'd carried our bikes up I was nervous for the descent on the other side. Luckily it was great!

The best part, was passing a stunning new refuge that needs to be re-visited in both winter and summer. By now it was around 16:00, the rain had begun to arrive, mr G was exhausted but we were all in high spirits.  From here it was 2000 metres down to the valley floor!!!  The main chunk of the descent was on a trail that was true Beaufortain flow-tech.  Keep your momentum, drop in and hold on!

As the rain got harder the singletrack ended, the option of another push to link up lots more singletrack was skipped due to various factors.  A sensible option.  We zoomed down a fire road which normally would be boring, but on this adventure ride where the riding is not the main priority we still had fun.  From here on we got soaked through and took a mixture of tracks, wide single tracks, and roads to get down to Aime and my car.
Struggling up the boulder field, note the fog behind
Loose descent, note how grey the sky now is

Steep and deep
We arrived at my car just before dark, cold and wet to the bone after a true epic.  Bikes loaded, McDonalds eaten (!) and 2 hours drive later we were all home.
Now that's the Chamonix way to retrieve a car!

Facts and figures:
Day 1: 11km, 1200m up.
Day 2: 33km, 880m up, 2600m down.

Km's of uphill pedalled: about 4km
Biggest section of descent: 2000m!
Games of UNO played: 1 extra long game. We forgot all the rules.
Humpage's alarm waking people up in another part of the refuge: Once, at 11pm, when they'd gone to bed at 8:30!
Car's retrieved: 1
Oli-venture: tick


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