Tour du Mont Blanc Trek
The Tour du Mont Blanc trek is an incredible opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the mountains and enjoy the natural beauty of the seven valleys that surround western Europe’s highest mountain. The trek offers an unusual variety of spectacular scenery and varied walks, you are sure to come away from this week refreshed and invigorated, if a little creaky at the joints.
The route crosses three borders (from France into Switzerland, then into Italy and back to France), climbs over six passes, traverses beneath huge glaciers, and meanders through beautiful alpine meadows and picture-book villages. It’s an epic journey! Throughout the trek we are rewarded with splendid views of some of the Alps most beautiful peaks; Mont Blanc (4810m), Aiguille Verte (4122m), Les Drus, Grand Jorasses and many more.
Clicking on the ‘Book Now’ button opposite, will open a new tab/window in your browser and direct you to our online tour booking system. Here you can check the course dates and availability.
Set dates for Summer 2016
25th June 2016
2nd of July 2016
16th of July 2016
6th of August 2016
27th of August 2016
If you have a group of 4 or more interested we can run a bespoke trip leaving on any date.
- All accommodation including first and last night in Chamonix
- IML Guides fees and expenses
- Guiding fees
- Any transfers and uplifts on itinerary
- All breakfasts and evening meals
- Bag drops where possible
What's not included
- Transport to/from Chamonix
- Equipment rental
- Travel insurance
- Packed lunches, Snacks, Bottled water, beers, drinks in huts
Who is this for?
The Tour du Mont Blanc Trek is well suited to fit hillwalkers, capable of trekking for 7 days in a row carrying a light (5-8kg) rucksack. We follow footpaths each day and the terrain is hilly! We stay in a mixture of mountain refuges and local hotels, gites and B&Bs during the trek, which all provide basic but comfortable lodging and good food. This helps keep our packs light carrying only snacks, clothing and essentials. There will be vehicle support during the trip where possible, so a change of clothes is never far away and this helps to keep the packs light.
Accommodation and huts
The majority of the accommodation on the trip will be in ensuite twin rooms, in hotels, B&Bs and Gites.
What to expect from mountain huts
We have 1 night in a mountain hut: the Rifugio Bonatti, which is one of the nicest mountain huts in the Alps, and we are usually in small rooms rather than dorms. There are showers in the refuge but they are limited to a few minutes – and aren’t always warm! The refuge serves good Italian food, along with a beautiful view.
Day 1 – Les Houches to Les Contamines
We start in Les Houches, with a cable car ride on the Bellevue lift. We then cross the spectacular suspension bridge at the foot of the Bionnassay glacier, and we have several route choices to get us to Les Contamines – we usually go over the Col de
Tricot to make sure we stop at the Chalet de Miages for a coffee, looking up at the Dome de Miages, but if the weather is bad we can take a lower, easier route. Tonight we stay in a lovely hotel in Les Contamines.
Day 2 – Les Contamines to Les Chapieux
Today we start heading up the old Roman road to the chapel at Notre Dame de la Gorge. From here it’s uphill, past the Chalet de Barme (if we’re doing well on time, it’s a perfect coffee stop!) and up to the Col de Bonhomme (2328m) for a well-earned
lunch stop. We then we have a gentle climb up to the Col de la Croix de Bonhomme (2478m), where we reach our refuge. If we are doing well for time, we can make the journey up to one of the most stunning viewpoints in the Alps, the Tête Nord des Fours, a 2 hour round trip from the hut. There are magnificent views of the Vanoise mountains and Mont Pourri. We then have a 2 hour walk down to Les Chapieux (where we sleep in small dorms, but there are showers!)
Day 3 – Les Chapieux to Courmayeur
We walk up the road for an hour to reach the Refuge des Mottets, from where we start the climb up to the Col de la Seigne (2516m). From here the scenery really changes – you’ve reached Italy! We have fantastic views down into the Val Veny and
over to the Val Ferret, and you start to see the other side of Mont Blanc and the other Chamonix giants. A descent past the Elisabetta hut (first Italian coffee of the trip!) takes us to La Visaille, where we take a bus down to the traditional Italian
town of Courmayeur.
Day 4 – Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
We start the walk up to the Bertoni hut (it’s steep, but that’s okay as we’ve found our trekking legs by
this point!) Here, if the weather is good, we can take the variant to incorporate an extra peak: it
takes a bit longer but it really is a stunning day – not many people, breathtaking scenery, and avoids the crowds in the Val Ferret. We spend tonight at the delightful Rifugio Bonatti hut, from where you can watch the beautiful sunset behind Mont Blanc.
Day 5 – Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly
Today we trek over the Grand Col Ferret (one of the highest cols on the trip at 2530m). We are rewarded with stunning views of the Grandes Jorasses, the Grand Combin and the Mont Dolent (whose summit is the border of France, Switzerland
and Italy). At the top of the col we cross over into Switzerland, where the scenery changes yet again. We continue to La Fouly, an alpine village with traditional Swiss “chocolate box” chalets. Here we take a minibus to the beautiful alpine resort of
Champex, where we stay in a family-run hotel.
Day 6 – Champex to Argentiere
Today if we’re feeling fit and the weather is good,we can take the Fenêtre d’Arpette, the highest col on the TMB. If we want to be a little more relaxed, we can take the route via Bovine to the Col de la Forclaz. Both routes offer spectacular scenery.
From the Col de la Forclaz we have a minibus pick-up to take us back to the Chamonix Valley, where we stay in the chalet.
Day 7 – Argentière to Chamonix
On the last day we head back to Argentiere in the minibus to finish of the tour by foot. The route climbs up to the Lac Blanc
on an exciting path (yes, there are a couple of ladders!) via the Lacs des Cheserys – simply the best views of Mont Blanc, and an absolutely stunning way to finish the trek. We have lunch either at the Lacs des Cheserys, or at the Lac Blanc, then we walk
as far as the Flégère cable car and take the lift down.
This is a proposed itinerary and is subject to change.
To maximise your enjoyment of the Tour du Mont Blanc Trek it is important to get as fit as you possibly can. Good fitness will also make it more fun and less exhausting! The process of training for your goal will help you focus on your goal and having a goal will help you focus on your training. So all in all training is good!
Trekking is all about being able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours (typically 5 to 12 hours) and
your training should reflect this. Probably the best training is going on long days hill walking as this simulates the real
thing and prepares the mind (exercising for long periods in poor weather requires mental strength!). However not everyone has the opportunity to do this and so alternatives such as jogging, cycling and gym workouts are good.
The focus should be on training Cardiovascular Endurance and so if in the gym, cycling/running/rowing machines are
much better than weight training. Try and exercise for up to a couple of hours at a time, 4 times a week. Remember to
build up your workouts over time. If you are not used to exercising much, your muscles and joints need time to build up
to avoid injury. Try and choose an activity that you enjoy and keep a note of what you do and your times – this really
helps with keeping the motivation up. If you are not used to training then your local gym will be able to advise you on a
plan and schedule to help you achieve your goals.
Training does not work overnight! The fittest athletes train as part of their lifestyles and have been doing it for years.
Consider training for a good couple of months before coming out to the Alps.
TOUR DU MONT BLANC KIT LIST
Essential items :
• Rucksack – approx. 30-40L
• Hiking boots – it is possible to do a lot of the TMB in walking trainers, but you should make sure they are trekkingspecific trainers (or trail-running trainers). For the June trips, hiking boots are definitely recommended as there is usually a lot of snow on the passes. Sandals are not appropriate for mountain walking so please do not bring these for trekking.
• Waterproof jacket and trousers – both essential items, should be as light as possible (not insulated: your other layers should provide the insulation).
• Trekking trousers – bring something lightweight.
• T-shirts – wicking t-shirts are better than cotton as they are lighter and dry faster.
• Mid layer – fleece jacket is good
• Warm jacket – We recommend brining a really lightweight synthetic belay jacket (eg. Rab Photon / Arcteryx Atom / Patagonia Nano) – just in case it gets cold. Remember, you are carrying this in your rucksack so it should be as light as possible. You don’t normally need to bring a down jacket because it won’t be much use if it gets wet.
• Warm hat (lightweight woolly hat is fine)
• Gloves (a light pair of gloves is fine)
• Sun Hat
• Sunglasses (essential as we will spend some time walking on snow)
• Suncream (small bottle to save weight) • Lip protection (with sun protection)
• Water bottles / camelback – you should have the capacity to carry at least 2 litres of water, but on very hot days you could need 3L.
• Walking poles – These often go in the “optional” section, but for June trips they are essential for the snowy sections.
• Sheet sleeping bag – only needed for the mountain refuge. All of the accommodation is high standard with freshly made beds, so no sleeping bags are needed. There is just one night where we stay in the Bonatti hut where the sheet sleeping bag will be needed. Silk is best, it’s lighter than cotton.
• Travel towel – again, only needed for the mountain refuge – everywhere else provides towels.
• Wash kit – Bring whatever you like for wash kit – but for the 1 night in the refuge where you have to carry it, you would normally just take a toothbrush, travel size toothpaste, mini contact lens solution if applicable, a couple of wet wipes and a tiny travel soap (although they provide ecologically sound shower gel in the showers).
• Head torch – just a lightweight torch, such as a Petzl Tikka / Zipka is fine for this trip.
• Plastic bags / dry sacks to keep essentials dry.
• Passport – to be carried whilst trekking. Make sure you keep it dry.
• Cash – for packed lunches and any drinks whilst on the trip (we have 3 nights in Switzerland, where you can spend euros if you prefer but will get a slightly better deal if paying in CHF. There is a cashpoint in La Fouly or Champex if you need CHF. You can normally spend euros if it’s just for the sake of a few drinks. There are also cashpoints in Chamonix, Les Contamines, Courmayeur & Argentière for euros).
• Basic first aid kit – your leader will carry a large first aid kit, but you should bring a small first aid kit containing plasters, blister treatment, painkillers & diarrhea treatment (rehydration sachets & immodium)
• Thermal base layer
• Long johns / thermal leggings
• Buff – can be useful for extra warmth if it’s cold, or sun protection for your neck on a hot day
• Lightweight sandals / flip flops – whilst these are provided at the mountain refuges, they aren’t provided in the nicer hotels, so it’s really nice to have footwear to change into in the evening, especially if you want to have a wander round Courmayeur or Champex.
• Trainers – it can be nice to give your feet a break from your walking boots on some days. Your leader can advise on which days this might be suitable, and if you are thinking of doing this, your shoes must be suitable for trekking in!
• Mobile phone – there is phone reception for the majority of the trip. It is a good idea to have a phone in case of emergency or if you need to leave the group for any reason.
• Snacks – not essential as we do go past shops most days so you can top up your supply of snacks fairly regularly
• Antibacterial handwash
• Insect repellant
To find out more about our course, availability, or to ask any questions, please get in touch through the website or by phone on +33 (0)845 527 58 12.
We take a £400 deposit to secure your place on one of our courses, and we ask for the balance to be paid 6 weeks before the course start date.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue.
Make sure that it covers glaciated mountaineering and climbing. We recommend the Dogtag (www.dogtag.co.uk) – they have comprehensive policies and a good reputation.
Getting to Chamonix
It is best to book flights and airport transfers well in advance of your departure.
Easyjet have many cheap flights to Geneva from all over the UK. Swiss Air have cheap and convenient flights from London to Geneva.
Booking a place on a minibus airport transfer service is by far the best way to get from Geneva airport to Chamonix (it takes about an hour or so, is cost effective and is a door to door service). We can book your airport transfers at a competitive rate – just email us with your flight details…