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Stage 5

from Champex (1466 m, CH) to Le Peuty (1297 m, CH)

Uphill difference of level / in height: 1200 m
Downhill difference of level / in height: 1340 m
Refuges on the way: Relais d'Arpette (1627 m), Chalet du Glaciers (1583 m)

Average duration of the stage: 6 h 30 min

"A very steep path, full of hairpin bend". The guide by Stefano Ardito introduces with these words the fifth day of the TMB and a more appropriate definition could hardly be found for what turns out to be the most fatiguing but at the same time the most beautiful stage of the entire tour.

We set off early in the morning walking along a gentle path winding through a nice wood, followed by the sound of a little torrent. Coming out of the wood we encounter a path gaining height steadily all the way, that proves hardly our legs. At a certain point we are faced with a rocky path, that involves a lot of stepping between boulders, not always very stable, upon which we have sometimes to climb helping ourselves with the hands; it is a funny part of the route, but you should anyway be careful. At the end of it there is a little snow-field to cross, but is not difficult at all. At this point starts the most impegnativo part of the ascent: a very steep bending (a tornanti?) path that leads us to the Fenetre d'Arpette (2665 m). The "fenetre" is a saddle where all the people stop to rest a bit after the big effort. Although we have tired ourselves a lot to reach the Fenetre, we find great satisfaction in having succeeded in this enterprise! Besides, the view is wonderful! After taking refreshment (be careful: there's no refuge there, you have to carry something to eat - and to drink!) and taking the customary photographs, we start the unending descent to Le Peuty on the path that goes along the beautiful Glacier du Trient. Apart from the first stretch of the path, classified by the French as "passage delicat", the rest of it isn't very difficult, though actually very long.

In the tiny and nice village of Le Peuty we settle in at a characteristic "gite d'etape": it is an ex hay-loft, made entirely of wood, used as a lodging for the hikers. On the second floor there are about thirty mattresses, disposed on two levels; on the first floor there is a little all-equipped kitchen and a bathroom with two showers. The price is paltry indeed and, pretty funny, there's no one to run the place, apart from a nice man coming every day at 7 p.m. (with the usual Swiss punctuality) to collect the money.

In alternative to the funny and economic "gite d'etape", if you are looking for more comfort you could go on for some kilometres and settle in at the hotel at Trient, the Relais du Mont Blanc, furnished with a mini-market and a very good restaurant, where we sup with a very good fondue of cheese and tomato.

Setting off to the peak of the terrifying Fenetre d'Arpette Along a snowfield to cross before the last leg of the ascent
> The steep winding ascent leading to the top of the fenetre fenetre Tired out by the effort, we take a rest on the overcrowded and narrow saddle
The marvellous view on the Glacier du Trient View from the top of the fenetre