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.
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What's not included
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 mountain refuges every night during the trek, which 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 duiring the trip where possible, so a change of clothes is never far away and this helps to keep the packs light.
Accommodation and huts
When in Chamonix we will be staying in our central 3chalets, Chalet Iceman, Chalet Slider and Chalet Viper – see summer holidays for the listings. Rooms are normally on a twin shared basis with shared bathrooms. The chalets have a fun atmosphere, there are often other like minded people staying in the chalets who are on various other courses. Chamonix town is a short 5 minutes walk away with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes.
What to expect from mountain huts
We have chosen some of the more comfortable refuges for this trip. They are basic but comfortable. They can cater for vegetarians. Food is usually on a set menu basis (3 course in the evening, hot drink and bread/jam/cereal for breakfast). Sometimes there is no drinking water and so you have to buy water to drink. Some huts will have showers, but most do not. You can usually buy tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, chocolate bars and snacks. Sleeping arrangements are normally dormitory style bunkbeds (eg 6 people on the bottom, 6 on the top) with blankets and/or duvets and so no sleeping bags are required. Huts provide slippers for wearing inside. You can expect a good atmosphere and a stunning 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.
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.
1. Lightweight shorts (made of a quick drying / breathable material)
2. Trekking trousers (made of a quick drying / breathable material)
3. Socks (we recommend Merino wool for warmth and breathability)
5. Wicking t shirts and long sleeved tops (2 of each)
6. Lightweight fleece
7. Heavyweight fleece
8. Waterproof goretex trousers
9. Waterproof goretex jacket
10. Trekking boots
11. 4 season down jacket
14. 2 x water bottles (camelbacks are fine for the trek but can freeze at higher altitudes)
15. good quality sunglasses (category 4 UV block)
16. head torch and spare batteries
18. 2 pairs of warm gloves
19. warm hat
20. sun hat
21. quick dry ‘paclite’ towel
22. Insect repellent & antihistamines
23. Lipsalve with sunblock factor 30+
24. Wetwipes, ear plugs for the huts
25. Ipod / personal stereo & camera, book, Personal medical kit and wash kit – keep this to an absolute minimum!!!
26. Trekking poles
You should carry a small daypack (25-30 litres is ideal, preferably with waterproof outer layer) to carry your waterproofs, camera, water etc…
You can bring a small 40-50L bag that can carry your change of clothes, and anything that is not essential on the day trips. Our vehicle support will bring the bags to the hotels on the nights we stay in Courmayeur and Champex.
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…