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Both Mountains Were Out, June 29-30, 2013

We arrived into the Aosta Valley, the Italian side of Mont Blanc, in very low cloud cover and rain.  Really, there are huge alpine peaks ringing this valley??!!  Spent the afternoon shopping for trek-related essentials and doing laundry.  Once the rain was done, we walked into the old town (literally walking through the old Roman gate to get into the old town) and became part of the lively Saturday night shopping and eating out scene.  Aosta has particularly impressed us with the seamless integration of old and new architecture.

Town Square, Aosta, Italy

Town Square, Aosta, Italy

Awoke Sunday to bright sunshine ... and ... both mountains were out!  Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn (although it draws its own weather, so if you blink, a cloud will have surrounded it even if everywhere else is sunny).  The gondola to Pila (ski area on the south side of Aosta, with great views onto the big peaks) just opened for the summer a week or so ago, so we took that up into the alpine zone.  Hiked up higher from that across more flower-filled meadows to Lac Chamolé and then extremely steeply to Col de Chamolé (the pass, approx. grand total of 2700' up).  360-degree views of snow-covered peaks, many with what look like glaciers.
Lac Chamolé and looking up at the pass
Lac Chamolé and looking up at the pass

Cannot stop looking at the view!
Cannot stop looking at the view!

Enjoyed our beers and "typical" foods for lunch at one of the small alpine inns at the ski resort (assortment of hams and salami with honey-soaked chestnuts, risotto a pesto, baked crepe with creamy cheese sauce).  Bought trekking snacks and tonight's dinner at the local supermarket, and spent the evening re-packing for trekking and the rest of the vacation without a car.  Tried to enjoy the pool/hot tub at our hotel, but they're having a little hot water problem (which also affected the speed of our showers).
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