TMB Day 5 and it’s a Big One! Courmayeur to Refugio Elana to Hotel du Col de Fenetre

From Gite Le Randonneur we went down to Courmayeur and then we took a bus to the base of our next climb to Refugio Elana.

I would like to preface with: I had made a reservation at this Refugio and the only way you can do this is by phone.  My husband was traveling in Israel and had an International data plan so I had him call.  They accepted the reservation, repeated the date and name, then told him they had it down in their book.

As Anna and I began our ascent to Elana the dark clouds rolled in and the rain started.  Soon we were in the middle of a thunderstorm.  Fear enveloped me as the last thing I wanted to happen was to be struck by lightning or have to throw my trekking poles.  I told Anna to go as fast as she could and to get over this mountain pass ASAP.  We did reach Refugio Elana in a massive storm only to be told they didn’t have our reservation in their book.  I could tell they had erased our name to accommodate a group of 12.   Anna tried to reason with them while I had visions of us making tents out of ponchos sleeping in the thunderstorm.  To no avail we had to keep going.  I started to cry and asked if they could make us a sandwich for the long hike to Switzerland.   It was 4:30pm and the next possible place was over the next mountain pass into Switzerland during the THUNDERSTORM.  We had no way to reach the next place by phone and had no idea if they would take us.  Elana said it was 2 hours to reach.  It took us 3-4 hours.  It was wet, muddy steep, cold and very dangerous.  I couldn’t believe they sent us away considering the weather conditions and time of day.  They clearly didn’t care.  They even charged me extra for the sandwich because I asked for ham and cheese!

We crossed over the border from IT LY to Switzerland walked our 4 hours to Gite Alpage de la Peule.  They tried to be somewhat helpful, however they said they were full.  Anna asked if we could hire one of them to drive us to the next town or get a taxi to help us out.  No one there was willing and clearly, they could have and a taxi was $100-$200 to take us to the next town, we were really remote.  A woman at the desk did call ahead for us to find a place in La Fouly.   Another 2 hours…… so they said…..

We were completely discouraged and at this point and I was certain we would be sleeping outside!   We did make it to Hotel du Col de Fenetre I think about 9pm.  They had a private room for us a cold beer and warm shower.  We had shared our ham and cheese sandwich and was just too tired eat, so a hot shower and right to bed we went.

Later on, on the tour we met people who had seen us go in and out of Elana and be refused a room at Alpage de la Peule.  Apparently, we were the talk of the TMB.   Refugio Elana was built by the father of a  daughter, Elana, who had died in a storm on the mountain and he built it to help people.  I think he needs to talk to his staff.  A few people who saw us at Alpage said there were empty beds that night and they could have taken us.  However; I loved our place in La Fouly.  We were awarded a beautiful sunset as we came into town as darkness set in.  Headlamps on!

The Alps between Italy and Switzerland
Making the best of a bad situation
The border into Switzerland. As you can see no-one in their right mind is out!!
When the rain stopped we got a good view of our destination, although unknown to us at the time. When we stopped we were on the other side of that mountain.
Sunset