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4
moderate to challenging

Traveller Rating

 

Activities
  • guided alpine walk
Accommodation
  • 6 nights gite/refugio
Meals
  • 6 Dinners
  • 7 Lunches
  • 7 Breakfasts

7 Days£940GBP

Overview

Trip Code: MBG

Trip highlights


  • Trek through stunning alpine scenery around the highest peak in Western Europe
  • Experience the exhilaration of trekking through three countries in the European Alps
  • Enjoying the culinary specialties such as Raclette
  • Sharing your walking day with a group of like minded travellers

The historic Tour du Mont Blanc is easily one of the most spectacular walks of the world. Brimming with incredible vistas from high mountain passes, lush valleys and highway sized glaciers, alpine scenery does not get much better than this. Joining an international group led by a bilingual mountain guide, the emphasis is on full immersion into the sublime mountain culture, with overnights in cosy mountain refuges or charming village gîtes. Carrying only a day pack, our mules transport your luggage leaving you free to enjoy the days walk. Commencing from the Chamonix Valley in France, the route takes you through Italy and Switzerland during a horseshoe circuit around the Mont Blanc massif. There is plenty of time to enjoy the small villages along the way, including the delightful hamlets of La Fouly and Trient.

Countries:

France, Italy, Switzerland

Starting Point:

Chamonix Valley


Itinerary

Leaving from the village of Le Tour we ascend on the scenic high mountain path of Balme heading towards Switzerland. Weather permitting you will be able to take some wonderful photos of the Mont Blanc chain including the impressive “La Verte”, the Drus and the Needles of Chamonix. We will cross the border between France and Switzerland before making our way down to the village of Trient for overnight accommodation. Walking: approx 9km, +894m/2932ft -900m/2953ft

Meals:  B,L,D

There are two alternative routes between Trient and Champex. The first is via the Mountain of Bovine which involves crossing the Forclaz Pass (1527m) where there are beautiful lake views. The other is the “Fenêtre d'Arpette” (2665m) route, a variant on the Tour du Mont Blanc and quite challenging. Our aim is to always take the variant trail except in bad weather. The trail is not as well defined as the lower route but as with many pass crossings, the rewards on a good weather day are the extraordinary views to the Trient Glacier. The descent to Champex is steep. Transfer by bus to La Fouly, set at the foot of the Dolent, the Val Ferret's emblematic mountain which rises to 3820m. Overnight Gite / refuge. Note: The decision on which path will be taken is always at the discretion of the guide. Walking: approx 18km, variant route +1300m/4265ft, -1000m/3280ft or Bovine route +900m/2953ft, -650m/2132ft)

Meals:  B,L,D

From our accommodation in La Fouly (1600m) we will meet up with our mules and commence walking. The route takes us out of Switzerland and into Italy by the Grand Col Ferret (2537m) pass. It’s a steady climb and at the Col you will be awe inspired by the sweeping views of the Pre de Bar glacier. After some time drinking in the panorama we will amble down the steep track to our overnight accommodation at the Refuge Elena, which is located at the base of the glacier and a great place to view the changing light on the alps. Walking: approx 13km, +900m/2953ft, -500m/1640ft

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning's walk takes us through the Val Ferret and along a balcony path with impressive views of the Grand Jorasses, Mont Blanc and in the distance the Col de la Seigne, marking the border between France and Italy. On reaching Refugio Bonatti there are two options to reach our accommodation: the newly rerouted TMB trail traverses the north flank of Monte de la Saxe, whilst the former official TMB route leads along the crest of Monte de la Saxe. Both are high trails with fabulous views of the Brenva face of Mont Blanc and the dramatic Aiguille Noire. As always, the decision on which path will be taken is at the discretion of the guide. Overnight Rifugio Berthone (1989m). Walking: approx 15km, +631m/2070ft, -704m/2309ft

Meals:  B,L,D

We descend from the refuge to the roadhead, then take a bus to Courmayeur. Nestled at the end of Italy's Aosta Valley, Courmayeur is an atmospheric town worthy of some light exploration - and a great place to taste some delicious Italian gelato. If the weather is good, we continue on foot from Courmayeur towards Elisabetta Refuge by crossing the Checroui Pass (2185m), following which a magnificent balcony trail offers expansive views of glaciers tumbling from the heights of Mont Blanc. In the event of bad weather a short bus ride from Courmayeur takes us to La Visaille from where we ascend the enchanting valley where the enormous Miage glacier flows down into Lake Combal. On the Italian side of Mont Blanc, one gains a completely different perspective of the highest peak in the European Alps. Walking: approx 16km (may be partly by bus), +1100m/3600ft, -1278m/4192ft

Meals:  B,L,D

We make our way over the Col de La Seigne mountain path, which is overhung by limestone pyramids and the Estelette Glacier, until we reach France. The trail then descends across the high mountain pastures to the City of the Glaciers. Today provides an excellent opportunity to buy Beaufort cheese from the local farmers. A big ascent (949m) leads to our overnight refuge just below the pass of Col de la Croix. Walking: approx 20km, +1150m/3773ft, -700m/2296ft

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we traverse mountain pastures to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2433m) where there are brilliant views southeast to the peaks of the Vanoise. The trail continues down to the Col du Bonhomme (2329m) and crosses the Contamines Natural Reserve. A sharp descent through a pine forest fringed gorge takes us to an ancient Roman Road and the church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, where there is a bus or taxi service (payable locally) to Le Fayet and Chamonix. Walking: approx 9km, +40m/131ft, -1200m/3936ft

Meals:  B,L


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.


Inclusions

  • 6 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners (does not include drinks) – continental breakfasts are served and usually consist of breads, jams, coffee, tea and juices. Lunch is picnic style. Dinner will consist of 2 or 3 courses which include regional specialties.
  • 6 nights accommodation in mountain refuges / gîte hostels on a dormitory share basis. It is possible to spend 5 nights in a double room, 1 night quadshare – supplement applies.
  • Luggage transfer by mule (strictly max 7kgs, early season departures use luggage van, and for first 2 days of Room Upgrade version on regular departures)
  • Experienced mountain guide
  • Group internal transfer by bus

  • Travel to and from the trail head
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Storage of excess luggage
  • Transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • Since 2020 the accommodations have not been providing bedding and you will need to bring your own sleeping bag.

Accommodation


Trail Surface


Suitability

moderate to challenging

4

MODERATE to CHALLENGING – GRADE 4 - 5 The walking is moderate to challenging (4 - 5) grade with daily guided walks of around 5 to 9 hours, between 8 and 15 km and maximum ascents of 1400 metres per day. There are some challenging stages during the walk with steep uphills, descents, and many sections of the trail which require care (eg steep drops, rocky terrain). There are more challenging variant sections of the TMB route which may require climbing ladders for short stages - the guide will use his/her discretion as to groups abilities and weather conditions to determine which route will be taken each day. The accent is on keeping a steady pace with time to stop and take photos (subject to weather conditions and walking pace). You will need a good to excellent level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. It is considered suitable for experienced walkers who are sure footed with a good walking pace. If your pace is slow in mountainous terrain we recommend you book on our Rambler trip. Early in the season (June) you may encounter snow on the passes which may be quite deep and alter the grading of the trip to challenging. At any time during summer, weather conditions may be variable and you should be prepared for all conditions including snow, ice, strong sun and extreme winds. As with all our moderate to challenging programs, we expect participants to be regular outdoors people, enjoying aerobic sport around four or five times a week over some period of time. Preferably this has been a long term interest but if not, you have set a program of fitness preparation with at least three months lead in time to your trip. The fitter you are for your trip, the more of a holiday it will be. Activities as close to the actual activity on your trip are the best training; in this instance walking with and without a pack. This builds leg strength, aerobic capacity and confidence in your ability to travel comfortably with a pack for extended periods. At the same time, you are also comfortable with the layers you like to wear and footwear. Important note: good quality walking boots with ankle support are a pre-requisite for your participation. Runners or shoes without ankle support are not suitable for the conditions encountered on this walk.


Departure dates


Notes

Note:
Please ensure you read the downloadable trip notes prior to booking. This itinerary may also operate in reverse or with different overnight stops - it should be seen as a guide only. Hours indicated do not include rest stops. Early and late season departures may require itinerary alterations due to snow conditions.
DN2
Departures from July to mid September will be organised according to accommodation options - dorm or rooms. If you plan to travel with friends during this period and elect different accommodation options, you will not be in the same group and the overnight stops will differ.
DN3
Walking boots with good ankle support are a requirement for this walk.
1
The TMB Ultra Marathon is held each year in late August, we recommend making your pre- & post- trip accommodation reservations well in advance. See Trip Notes for more information.

Total Priceper person from

£940GBP

Options & Supplements*
  • double room supplement - 1 night dorm/ 5 nights doubleGBP£130
*Prices listed are per person

Frequently Asked Questions

The walking is moderate to advanced (4 - 5) grade with daily guided walks of around 5 to 9 hours, between 8 and 15 km and maximum ascents of 1400 metres per day. There are some challenging stages during the walk with steep uphills, descents, and many sections of the trail which require care. You will need a good to excellent level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. It is considered suitable for experienced walkers only. Early in the season (June) you may encounter snow which may be quite deep and alter the grading of the trip to challenging. At any time during summer, weather conditions may be variable and you should be prepared for all conditions including snow, ice, strong sun and extreme winds.

In order to secure your place on the trip we recommend you book as soon as you are ready. Bookings open for the following year in mid September.

Geneva is the closest. To reach the Chamonix Valley from the airport, we recommend you take a shuttle transfer (1 hour). Alternatively there are scheduled bus services between Geneva Airport and Chamonix. Zurich is another option with good train connections.

Our mules spare you the worry of carrying your own belongings and we provide you with special bags to allow this transportation process to run as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. There is a 7 kg maximum for the bags that are to be carried by the mules and any excess will be refused so make sure you weigh it beforehand. The weight is strictly adhered to, to ensure that the total load our mules carry is within the ethical pack carrying guidelines. Please note that for early or late season departures we may use vehicles to transfer your luggage.

If you have a soft bag which is 15kgs or less, if requested in advance and subject to space considerations, our partner will store the bag for the duration of the trip and return it to you at the end of the walk. Please ensure you can lock it. If you have a heavier or rigid suitcase, please check with your pre tour hotel about left luggage storage options.

There are no single rooms available on this trip.

You will need to bring some food items to supplement the meals provided. For example, gluten free pasta, cereal and bread are generally not provided by the accommodation. Lunches are salads, meats, cheeses.

In modern society it is unusual to sleep with more than one other person. Therefore its quite common for us to be asked about the multishare dormitories used on this trip. The dormitories are mixed sex with usually around 10-12 people in a room but sometimes up to 40 people. Beds are often bunks but can also be one long platform with separate mattresses or one long continuous mattress. Blankets are provided but you will need to bring your own sleeping sheet. Pillows are not generally provided. Bathrooms and toilets are shared. Our groups will usually sleep in the same area of a dorm room or in one bunk room. Ear plugs are recommended if you are sensitive to noise.

If you are travelling with another person you can upgrade to twin share rooms. This may be two single beds or a double bed. The bathroom may be shared in some accommodations.

There are different rules for the different accommodations you will stay at but in general - take your boots off and leave them in the boot room before you enter; take your luggage to your bed and set up your sleepsheet before lights out; limit noise after lights out.

The season for walking around Mont Blanc is relatively short - from June to September. Anytime during this period will be good for walking. The early season departures (June) are likely to be affected by snow coverage which is good for your pics but may make it more difficult to walk through. It may also mean that your walking will be re-routed if (for example) a pass is closed. August is the busiest month on the trail, whilst September may experience cooler temperatures and quieter trails. The wildflowers are splendid in June and July.


Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Personal Experience

We've been walking and cycling the planet for over four decades and are passionate about delivering exceptional service. Combined, we’ve travelled to virtually every corner of Europe, and are eager to share the many benefits of travelling on foot or by bike.

Great Value & Quality

Our well priced trips offer great value for money. Included in your package are comprehensive route notes, maps & guide books along with bag transfers and locally run accommodation. We take the stress out of organising your holiday.

Self-Guided Specialists

We have have been operating active self guided holidays for over 45 years. We handle all the necessary logistics so that you can relax and explore your destination at your own pace. Many of our tours depart daily, giving you even greater flexibility.

Videos

Mont Blanc Guided Walk with UTracks