We needed good weather and conditions for this long day. Pierre the warden at Refuge Nant Borrant assured us that this was a good day for the Col des Fours variante and that the snow conditions were manageable without winter equipment.
So after an early breakfast we left Refuge Nant Borrant at 07:30.
The refuge is in the Reserve Naturelle des Contamines-Monjoie. The TMB continues through open meadows on a rough track with the Aiguille de la Pennaz dominating the way ahead.
The TMB ascends through meadows and stony zig-zags on a narrow, rocky path to emerge at Plan des Dames where Tumulus Plan des Dames marks the spot where an English woman perished in a storm. 2043m
The TMB rises steeply above the Plan Jouvet through the Upper Valley Montjoie
before eventually reaching the Col Du Bonhomme 2329m.
The TMB crosses the saddle before rising again into a wilder landscape with scree rocks and late snow patches.
The path rises steeply towards the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme at 2329m
which is marked by a large cairn with magnificent extensive views.
It was at this point we had to decide whether to go down to Chapieux or to continue up another 300m to the Col Des Fours. It was obvious we were going to be above the snow line and we knew the descent on the other side was very steep.
We decided to go up and although there was a lot of snow it had softened in the warm sun and we had no difficulties.
We continued to the Tete Nord des Fours where the all round views are magnificent. There is an orientation table there to help with identification.
At 2756m this was the highest point on our TMB and Mont Blanc can be seen to the North East beyond the Aiguille des Glaciers.
From the Col des Fours the descent to the south east is very steep on slopes of shale. We were able to avoid most of the snow patches. We found it very similar to many descents we have made in the English Lake District and Snowdonia, so with care there was no difficulty.
On reaching the Plan des Fours basin 700m below the Col de Tufs stream drops through a series of spectacular cascades.
We spent quite some time beside the waterfalls relaxing in the sunshine knowing that any difficulties of the day were behind us.
We dropped into the Vallee des Glaciers at Ville Des Glaciers 1789m and wandered up the last couple of kilometres gaining a harsh 100m of elevation to the Refuge des Mottets at 1870m.
We were rewarded by relaxation on the terrace with a lovely cold beer.