The Tour du Mont Blanc is a 105-mile hike that runs through France, Italy, and Switzerland. Every serious hiker's bucket list includes circumnavigating Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc. Every year, thousands of people complete the 105-mile trek, which includes an impressive total elevation gain and loss of 32,800 feet.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a legendary trek and a classic alpine route that takes you through the best of the Mont Blanc massif's scenery, from spectacular passes to enchanting green valleys. The ascent of Mont Blanc is met with beautiful sunny days, downpours, and even patches of snow. The mountains are full of unexpected twists and turns, making it a true adventure.
The Tour du Mont Blanc hike is best done during the summer months, which run from June to August. These are the months when there is plenty of sunshine and time to hike the trails. Those considering taking the tour should be aware that it typically lasts 10 to 13 days.
The journey is not for the faint of heart. Even though almost anyone can complete the route, if you are not used to high intensity activity or do not exercise regularly, you may not enjoy it as much. We recommend getting ready for this adventure to have a good time and make the most of it. You can train by climbing stairs, going for daily walks, and testing out your trekking boots and backpack several months in advance. Keep in mind that you'll be walking 6 to 8 hours a day for at least one week; don't ever misjudge the difficulty of such an adventure. There is a lot of uphill hiking on the Tour du Mont Blanc, but the views make it all worth it!
The Tour du Mont Blanc starts and finishes in Chamonix, a mountain town in the French Alps that is a thriving hub of adventure sports. Despite its small size, Chamonix is always bustling with adventurers. Chamonix is only 90 kilometers from Geneva Airport and has numerous transportation options, making it one of the most accessible mountain towns in the Alps. Chamonix is known as the "Adventure Capital of the World" because of its buzzing atmosphere, a plethora of adventures, and breathtaking mountains right outside its door.
There are 10 simple stages in the route that are explained below.
Stage 1: You'll start in Les Houches, a small town at the entrance to the Chamonix Valley. Take the Bellevue cable car up to 1800m for panoramic views. There should be views of Mont Blanc, Chamonix Aiguilles, Aiguilles Rouges, and the Chaine des Aravis. Travel to the Col du Tricot, crossing the famous suspension bridge that spans the Bionnay Glacier, and then down into Les Contamines for the first evening.
Stage 2: The following day brings you up and over the Col du Bonhomme (look for the Roman bridge), with views of the Vanoise National Park on the horizon.
Stage 3: The path then descends into Les Chapieux, a small hamlet. After Les Chapieux, the trail crosses the 8254 feet Col de la Seigne, which straddles the French-Italian border. Yes, you can stand on each side with one foot!
Stage 4: Head down into the Val Veny, a beautiful green valley with Mont Blanc's south face dominating the skyline on your left.
Stage 5: As you make your way towards Courmayeur, you'll be compensated with some of the best views of the range's famous 13,123 feet peaks. The Grandes Jorasses, Mont Dolent, and the Grand Combin have spectacular and unique vantage points.
Stage 6: You'll ultimately come to Switzerland through the Italian Val Ferret. Climb the Grand Col Ferret on the Italian-Swiss border before descending to the small mountain village of La Fouly.
Stage 7: The route then takes you through Swiss alpine meadows and small villages before arriving at the Lac de Champex, a pristine alpine lake in a steep valley.
Stage 8: You will complete the circuit by navigating the Aiguille du Midi and passing into the Aiguilette des Possettes, eventually returning to France via the Col de Balme.
Stage 9: One more ascent to the Lac Blanc, via the Grand Balcon Sud, for even more spectacular views of the Mont Blanc range.
Stage 10: Then it's a final descent back to Chamonix and you're done! You've returned to where you started.
The Tour du Mont Blanc route is well marked. It's nearly impossible to get separated in bad weather. If you have a spirit of adventure, can read a map, use a compass, GPS device (or app), and follow the suggested safety precautions before and during the trek, then the trek is able to be completed independently.
If you prefer a guided tour, perhaps because you are trekking alone and would benefit from the company of a group or the incredibly valuable expertise of the region that a local guide can bring, and you have the budget, there are numerous excellent local tour companies that provide guided TMB experiences.
The third option, self-guided assisted tours, is new. These packages alleviate the stress of planning your self-guided tour, but they are not without cost. Along with detailed trekking notes, the company books all of your accommodations and plans for your trip, but you will still walk the trek alone.
Backpack: With an advised pack weight of no more than 10kg, every ounce counts. Never before has the term "lightweight" been so literal. Packing only the necessities is critical; anything else could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Of course, many Tour du Mont Blanc hikers prefer to ferry larger bags along the route with luggage transfer companies, which are plentiful. If you intend to stay in refuges, you will need a 25-30 liter backpack with chest and hip straps. Hikers camping on the TMB should bring a 50-60 liter pack.
Our packing list for the Tour du Mont Blanc includes:
First-aid supplies. Many of the items on our packing list will be familiar to most serious hikers.
However, we strongly advise you to frequently update any existing kit to lighter versions in order to lighten your load. The Tour du Mont Blanc is difficult enough without being ill-equipped, and poor quality outerwear and equipment could greatly impact your experience! Spend wisely on the main piece of equipment, and prioritize well-fitting footwear and a backpack. Boots should provide adequate ankle support, have a sturdy vibram-like sole, and be waterproof. Remember to pack your passport in your backpack because you'll be trekking through three different countries.
Other things to do
Nowadays, there are thematic routes where people can experience something they are interested in. The "Le Chemin des Rognes" path is one of the walk's historic routes. Another route option is the 'Mountain in all senses,' which takes you through the Escape Mont Blanc region and allows you to discover many native to the area. Among these is the Morgex region's 'a piedi nudi' or barefoot route. Hiking barefoot is a safe experience that everyone should have. Vallone di Arpy is a must-see destination that offers three themed routes.
The cable car ride to Aiguille du Midi is an option that is well worth your while. You only have two chances on the circuit, so go when the weather is nice for incredible views of Mont Blanc!
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