Day 6: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

Or So the Itinerary Said

See our video recap of Days 5 and 6 here.

Things had been going so well, we decided to mix it up today and throw a wrench in our well-laid plans…

The day’s hike began with a two-hour climb through forest and out of Courmayeur.  It was a cloudy morning, but when emerging from the woods just below Rifugio Bertone, we were greeted by clear skies and a breathtaking view of Mont Blanc.  Where better for our picnic lunch?

From there, we continued to Rifugio Bonatti, which was meant to be our destination for the evening.  We had a beer when we arrived, and as it was still quite early and we were well-rested, we decided to proceed to the next valley about an hour and a half away.  Our guidebook indicated there was a chalet there where we hoped to stay the night.  Against our better judgment, we didn’t call in advance.

We arrived at Chalet Val Ferret exhausted and ready to call it a day.  To our great dismay, the gentleman at the front desk told us the inn was closed.  The day prior, Rifugio Elena had closed for the season, so we knew that continuing to it was not an option.  He graciously called the closest lodge, Hotel La Vachey, and reserved a room for us.  Unfortunately, La Vachey was 45 minutes down the road in the wrong direction.

Upon arrival at La Vachey, we were greeted by a kind innkeeper and directed to a private room with an immaculately clean shared bath.  (Though no one but us used it during our stay.)  Our dinner was pleasant and ample – a choice of pasta or soup, sausage and polenta (for the third day in a row!), with vegetables and turkey and cake for dessert.

All’s well that ends well, and given our gamble at the end of the hiking season, we were fortunate to find accommodations without having to return to Bonatti.  We hiked for just more than 5 hours to reach Bonatti (9:40 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.) and it was nearly 6 p.m. when we reached La Vachey.

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4 thoughts on “Day 6: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

  1. Excellent blog — thank you for sharing such helpful info on this trip. I’m heading off to do half of the Tour this weekend (from Courmayeur to Chamonix) and had two quick questions: 1) did you take the Mont de La Saxe route to Bonatti, or the lower route? If the high route along the ridge, did you find it to be quite strenuous? 2) Along your walk each day, how much snack food did you carry with you, and how well were you able to fill up on food and water at refuges/huts along the way? At home, we like to carry nuts, power bars, fruit and chocolate on every hike, and we’re not sure how readily available these things will be and how easy it will be to get in as many calories as we should. Thanks in advance for your help with this!

    • Hi, Susan!
      Fantastic, you’ll have a great time! We did not do the alternate route to Bonatti, and I’m afraid I can’t provide any insight into it. Until receiving your message, I didn’t even recall this section had an alternate, and I don’t recall any discussions about doing it. Sorry I can’t be of any help here.
      We typically carried meat/cheese/bread for our lunch and trail mix to eat along the way. The route typically goes thru a town every day or so (La Fouly, Champex Lac, etc.) where you can stock up on supplies. Other than the refuges, there are also fresh water sources along the hike.
      Hope this helps and enjoy your trip!

  2. Hi – You’re a blog is a great resource. Since you have been to both Bonatti and La Vachey, I’d love your advice. We will be coming from Courmayeur and can stay private at LV or shared dorm at Bonatti. We are in mid thirties and prefer private, but have heard beautiful things about Bonatti. 1) would you say Bonatti is so beautiful to forgo privacy? 2) how much additional time would you allow to make it to LV from Courmayeur vs stopping at Bonatti?

    • Hmm…well, Bonatti is situated in a beautiful spot, and while we ultimately had a nice experience at La Vachey, I didn’t exactly end up there by choice, so my opinion is likely a little jaded. 😉 I will say that everyone I spoke with along the TMB raved about Bonatti and said it was their favorite refuge along the entire trail. I was very disappointed we didn’t end up staying. Based on that alone, I would recommend Bonatti. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on the time needed since we did not take a direct route to La Vachey.

      Regardless of what you choose, you’ll have a wonderful time!

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