A huge THANK YOU from Mont Blanc Treks & Cicerone!

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition for a 2 day guided trek in Chamonix. After receiving many entries, we are delighted to announce our winner, Joachim Laureys from Belgium, who is looking forward to joining us in Chamonix for his bespoke trek in September.

So who is our 2023 winner? Over to you Joachim…

“I’ve been working in hospitals as an orthopaedic technician since I graduated 21 years ago.

Ever since my childhood, I always had a fascination for the mountains, but couldn’t often visit them. Coming from Belgium, where we only have some minor hills in the Ardennes, meant I always had to wait till the summer holidays with my parents to go out and hope to discover them. In those years we mostly drove through Austria to what was then Yugoslavia. I always adored those countries and their nature, their roughness. At the age of 16 I made my first real voyage without my parents as I took a part of a 2-month road trip by bike with a small group starting in Belgium- and going all the way through Norway and Sweden, a more than 2000-mile trip by bike, always trying to drive as much through nature as we could, avoiding big cities, crowds. Only us and nature. As I look back on it, it is still one of the best experiences I ever had.

The first real vacation I spent with the sole purpose of walking in the mountains however was after graduating and was with a friend in National Park Ordesa in the Spanish Pyrenees. That’s where I really fell in love with hiking in mountainous terrain. A year later, when I met my wife-to-be, we started travelling through Europe, … Ireland, Picos d’Europe (a must-see in my eyes), France and then finally we fell in love with Italy, more specifically the Dolomites.

For almost 10 years in a row (apart from the years when we couldn’t travel because of Covid) we try to explore this region more and more. My other interests are photography and the history of both world wars. Hiking in this region really was a dream come true. Walking and climbing to the remains of fortresses of WW1, walking the former front lines in this beautiful region, excellent food, friendly Italians, what more does one need?

This year, as I wanted to walk in the Southern part of the Stelvio national park, near Peio, I wanted to prepare and buy a book on the Cicerone website with walks in this region. It was then that I saw the competition to win the 2-day trek in Chamonix. Normally I never enter competitions but this time I was excited by the possibility of discovering the Chamonix valley & this region of the Alps. So I entered, never thinking I would win until, during a walk when we were in the Dolomites, I was contacted and told I won the first prize. It actually took me some time to realise it was really true.

I have never visited the French Alps and I’m really excited to explore this region too. I’m looking forward to it, can’t wait to be there.”

Joachim will update us on his preparation and experience in the Alps in September, in the meantime read the diary of our 2022 winner, Suzanne’s diary & her time on the Tour du Mont Blanc