Tackling the Tour Du Mont Blanc – A Teens Perspective

After I wrote my post on our experience hiking the Tour Du Mont Blanc, I told my kids about it and my youngest daughter said – “Oh – I wrote a paper for English about our trip.” She graciously allowed me to publish it here so you can compare my experience with hers.

Uphill Climb

It’s August 5th, 2018. Back home, in Brooklyn, the weather is sweltering, but instead of shorts and a tank top, I am dressing warmly, in hiking clothes. Today, I am preparing to climb the Tour du Mont Blanc. That’s 65 miles of steep ascent and descent, over and around the Alps, covering three countries in six days. 

Thankfully, our group has a guide. Tales of hikers who met their untimely end on the hike were seldom told, but the fear still lingered, whenever our tour guide mentioned a previous avalanche, or a change of plans in our trail. “We have to take a different path today, an avalanche is blocking our planned route,” she said, nonchalantly. Our group consists of my family and five strangers. Our tour guide is a lovely, middle aged French woman, with a thick accent and a welcoming voice. I only wish I could remember her name. We met up, and took a ski lift to the hike that morning. I’ve always been scared of heights. My fear wasn’t so intense, but enough to be adequately made fun of, when the occasion arrived. Enough so that the idea of dangling above the mountains, was not the most appealing. 

A couple hundred short breaths later, we arrived at the top of the mountain, and it was all worth it for the view. Icy white capped the mountains, with frozen rivers, and patchy grass down the sides. Breathtaking. Alas, the moment was short lived. Shortly after, it was time to begin our climb. The worst part was, without a doubt, the edge of the mountain, where we held on desperately, to a metal chain, hoping and praying we would not slip, and fall deep into an endless void of grassy green. By lunchtime, on that first day, I was exhausted. While I was hiking, the adrenaline kicked in, but as soon as we sat down to relieve our hunger, the exhaustion hit me. At that moment, only four hours into our week long adventure, I was regretting every single life choice that had led me to that moment. I thought back to my mother proposing the idea, and me laughing at the prospect. I thought back to the realization that she was serious, and that I had to train for this. I thought back to climbing the stairs in Fort Greene Park, over and over, to get myself in shape for the climb. Why did I do this?

Despite this, I got myself back up again, desperate to prove myself wrong, and hiked the rest of the day, through blisters where I could practically feel the blood and pus building up, to the steepest of ascents where my breath was short and fleeting. Hours later, we arrived at a tiny hotel on the mountain, cramped, but pleasant. I smiled through a disgusting dinner, ready to shower in the communal bathroom and fall asleep on my unwashed comforter. I complain, but the hotels really were quite cozy. So much better than expected, really. I was so relieved to have a room with two whole beds, for me and my sister. At no later than 9pm, we watched a silly tv show to settle in for the night, and passed out minutes later.

After all of this, I woke up the next morning, feeling accomplished, feeling on top of the world (literally), until I remembered something: the nightmare that was yesterday, was real. And, it was day one of six. So yes, I had to do it again. Five more times. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks, as I laced up my hiking boots.

Carly Adams – 16 yrs.

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