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TMB Day 3: Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta (Italy)

Crossing the Border to Good Food

September 4, 2020

sunrise in the montains

TMB Stage 3 Anti-Clockwise

14 km
1100 m
Les Chapieux
Rifugio Elisabetta
GPX File
Map map of the hike

Photographers often take the best shots early morning or late afternoon, when the light is better. We tried to get an early start every day. Not always easy. That day we managed.

The morning is again cold, but the sky is clear. We follow the Torrent des Glaciers up to the Refuge des Mottets where the slope finally increases to reach the Col de la Seigne.

On the way, we meet our cow friends. Of course, they are standing right where we need to cross. Of course, there’s like a thousand of ‘em. We make it under the fence close to the river, under their inscrutable eyes. Success.

We reach Col de la Seigne and thus Italy for an early lunch. The sun is shining.

Located at 2516 m high, the Col de la Seigne offers incredible views of the Mont Blanc and surrounding mountains and valleys. This pass was already frequented during Roman times, as it is easily accessible both ways.

mont blanc
The large peak at the extreme left is the Aiguille des Glaciers. The next big snowy lump is the Mont Blanc. The view is on the Italian side of Col de la Seigne. Going down the valley, we'll reach Courmayeur (Day 4).

In June 1940, the Italians declared war on the French. The first battles will happen at the Col de la Seigne between the Italian Alpinis (alpine hunters) and the French Sections d’Eclaireurs Skieurs. The French managed to stop the Italians between les Mottets and Les Chapieux by the end of the month. They fought in a terrible climate, with snowstorms and temperatures as low as -25°C.

That was your historical paragraph.

From Col de la Seigne, the way to Rifugio Elisabetta is quite short. We arrived at the refuge around 3PM and we enjoyed fantastic views of the Mont Blanc and the valley from the sunny terrasse.

That’s our first refuge on the TMB. We must say that it was great. The evening food was delicious (the breakfast was a bit spartan), the views were beautiful, and the staff was friendly.

I must admit that I prefer the comfort of my bed and pillow. I still did not manage to have a restful sleep in any refuge. At least I fell asleep rather quickly. See you tomorrow.

Sunset on the Val Veny from the refuge terrace. The flat area right of the path is Lake Combal.

We crossed water and met some Italian cows before finally reaching the perfectly situated Rifugio Elisabetta. The refuge is named after an Italian hiker that passed away from an accident in the region.

Crossing streams
Cows grazing in the large prairie, surrounded by mountains, down from Col de la Seigne
stone houses
Near the rifugio, stone houses. What were they used for?