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guided alpine snowshoe
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UIMLA International
Mountain Leader

Full Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the world’s great walks. On this full tour of eleven days trekking you can feel totally immersed in the alpine experience and enjoy every stage of this superb journey.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is famous as one of the world’s great walks and justifiably so. It is a magnificent circuit around the Mont Blanc massif which includes of course Mont Blanc itself, the highest peak in Western Europe at 4810m.

On this full tour of eleven days trekking you can feel totally immersed in the alpine experience and enjoy every stage of this superb journey. On good quality paths you will trek through varied landscape with breathtaking scenery traversing high, rugged cols such as the Grand Col Ferret 2537m. The average distance walked each day is 16km and the average height gain is about 830m per day with a few bigger days. Expect to be walking for between 5-7 hours per day. Most clients find that the days can be taken at a comfortable pace with breaks and time to take photos.

For those who would enjoy them there are the options of big mountain walking days such as the day to the Rifugio Bonatti via Mont de la Saxe and then in contrast there are the alpine meadows with their rich abundance of alpine plant life and the mellow farmland of the Swiss Val Ferret.

The three countries on the tour: France, Italy and Switzerland are distinctive in many ways including their architecture, culture, local food and delicious wines. The Tour du Mont Blanc also gives you the opportunity to enjoy a mixture of social alpine nights in the mountain refuges, family run hotels in small villages and the buzz of the mountain towns of Courmayeur and Chamonix.

For a visual impression of the Mountain Balance experience on this trek, take a look at the Tour du Mont Blanc photo gallery>

Number of days trekking: eleven days trekking, at the demanding grade.

Dates: from the end of June to the end of September so please get in touch if you have specific dates in mind. To see the greatest variety of alpine flowers the end of June and July are the best times to walk the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Group size: up to a maximum of eight, for groups larger than eight a second International Mountain Leader can be engaged.

Mountain Balance trip grading

Trip Grade: the Tour du Mont Blanc trek is graded as demanding. Click here for information on our trip gradings.

Start point: Les Houches, in the Chamonix valley, France.

Price: : I offer independent guided trekking. The price for my services as an International Mountain Leader per person for eleven days trekking (and help organising your trip) is 632.50€ per person plus expenses, based on a group of four.

Full booking and pricing details here.

Accommodation choices: I realise that the choice of your accommodation is important for your enjoyment of your holiday so this is flexible: you choose your accommodation and the level of comfort you would like to suit your budget. Because you pay the provider directly for the accommodation there is complete clarity regarding these costs. I am happy to give information, an honest opinion and assistance to make bookings so that your accommodation is right for you.

There are different standards of accommodation available from mountain refuges (which often have small twin rooms available rather than dorms) and gites to four star hotels in places. Therefore it is possible to adapt the itinerary to suit your preferences and budget, for example it is possible to walk the TMB without staying in any refuges. When we discuss the specifics of your trip I will be able to give you accurate costings for the accommodation and any other expenses depending on your chosen itinerary.

Expect to pay something in the order of 38-46€ per person per night for half board in a mountain refuge dormitory and approximately 55€ per person per night for bed and breakfast in a three star family run hotel, based on two people sharing a twin room, this does vary throughout the Tour.

Further Options

Additional days or a shorter holiday

This itinerary could be combined with two rest days to make a two week holiday, allowing you to enjoy both the trekking and more of the culture, for example take a day off in Courmayeur and visit the delightful spa close by at Pre St Didier or have a day off in the Chamonix valley to take in the Aiguille du Midi. Many variations on the classic tour itinerary are easily arranged to suit the time you have available and your interests.

Baggage transfers

The mountain refuges are well equipped with bedding and duvets and picnics can be purchased en route so it is not necessary to carry a large rucsac on this tour. However, if you would prefer to hike on most days with only a day pack baggage transfers can be arranged, at an additional cost, to many of the overnight accommodation or the itinerary adapted accordingly.

Terms and Conditions: please read the Terms and Conditions on our Small Print page carefully before booking your trek.

Kit list: please read the full list of items you'll need to enjoy our trek on our Kit list page.

The evening before your trek starts we will meet in Les Houches to chat about the trip and check your gear.

Day 1. Les Houches to Les Contamines via the Col de Tricot 2120m and the Chalets des Trucs.

A fine warm up day, walking from Les Houches to take the Bellevue cable car onto the ridge above Les Houches. From here there are great views of the Chamonix Valley and its peaks which we will see again on our return to the valley in 8 days time. We ascend the Col de Tricot (2120m) then down to the Chalets de Miage with its cafe and possibly the finest blueberry tart in the Alps. There is then a short ascent to the Chalets de Truc before a steady descent into Les Contamines.

Day 2. Les Contamines to Refuge Croix de la Bonhomme

From Les Contamines we walk to the end of the valley and ascend first through alpine meadows and then on more mountainous terrain to the Col du Bonhomme 2329m. A rocky traverse takes us around to the Col de la Croix de Bonhomme. A warm welcome at the refuge du Col de la Croix de Bonhomme (yet again with delicious cake) is a few metres away.

Day 3. Refuge du Col de la Croix de Bonhomme to Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini

There are two options for today:

  • The high route, for good weather only, takes us via the Col des Fours (2665m) with the descent to Ville des Glaciers before climbing to the Italian border and the Col de la Seigne 2516m. On the descent from the Col de la Seigne there are fabulous views along the almost perfect U shaped glaciated valleys of Val Veny and Val Ferret to the Swiss border at the Grand Col Ferret. This will be our next two days walking but before that we have another mountain night at the Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini 2300m.
  • The alternative route is to descends to the attractive hamlet of Les Chapieux and then up to Ville des Glaciers before climbing to the Italian border at the Col de la Seigne 2516m. From Col de la Seigne the path leads down to the Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini.

Day 4. Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini to Courmayeur

Today provides a superb panorama of the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif. From the Elisabetta hut we follow the old military road for few kilometres past the Lac du Combal 1975m before climbing and then traversing to the Col de Checrouit. We now make our descent to the attractive old village of Dolonne and into Courmayeur.

Day 5. Courmayeur to the Rifugio Walter Bonatti

Today there is a choice of two routes to the Rifugio Bonatti. Both routes have some of the most dramatic views on the whole of the Tour du Mont Blanc. We walk out of Courmayeur and climb to the Rifugio Bertonne 1989m where the route splits:

  • Main Tour du Mont Blanc route: The path makes a short ascent to the main TMB route which takes an undulating traverse around the mountainside, which is covered in alpenrose and many other alpine flowers, to the Rifugio Bonatti at 2025m.
  • Mont de la Saxe option: This option makes for a superb, big day’s walk (almost 1600m of ascent). From the Bertone there is a further steep ascent onto a broad grassy ridge to the Testa Bernada and then by a narrower col to the Tete de la Tranche at 2584m. From here we descend before the final ascent of the day up to the Pas Entre Deux Sauts on then down to the Bonatti hut.

Day 6. Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly

From the Bonatti the path traverses and climbs continuing the dramatic views before descending to Arnuva. We continue on to the refuge Elena opposite the snout of the Pre de Barre glacier. The path then climbs steeply to reach the Swiss frontier at the Grand Col Ferret 2537m. We descend into Swiss Val Ferret and to La Fouly.

Day 7. La Fouly to Champex Lac

Today is a complete contrast to the previous days as the route takes us through farmland and old hamlets with typical Valaisanne houses and barns some dating from the 1700’s. The final ascent is through woodland to the pleasant little resort of Champex Lac.

Day 8. Champex Lac to Col de la Forclaz

There are two options today:

  • Via the Bovine alpage: On the main TMB route we climb to the Alpage de Bovine 1987m. The path takes us through alpine meadows to a charming farm serving lunches, drinks (and cake!) Their garden is a lovely place to sit and enjoy the big views into the Rhone valley and the Roman town of Martigny. From the high point 2049m the path descends through forest to the Col de Forclaz.
  • Fenetre d’Arpette 2671m: This high alternative is for good weather only. The route takes us up the Arpette valley, up through a jumbled boulder field and then up a steep final scree slope to the Fenetre d’Arpette itself. This an impressively set narrow gap in the rocky ridge between the Pointe des Ecandies and Le Genepi. Descending steeply from the Fenetre d’Arpette the path is initially rocky, it is worth pausing to admire the seracs of the Trient Glacier which are just to your left. A continually steep path brings you onto the old lateral moraine of the glacier and into trees before pleasant final kilometres beside the historic bisse to the Col de Forclaz.

Day 9. Col de Forclaz to Argentiere via the Col de Balme and Aiguillette de Posette

There is an initial descent to Le Peuty before the path zig zags up through trees towards the Col de Balme 2191m. At the Col de Balme as we re-enter France we are rewarded with fabulous views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix peaks once more. From the Col we stay high crossing the ski area of le Tour and onto the Aiguillette des Posettes descending its broad ridge to Tre le Champs and on to Argentiere.

Day 10. Argentiere to the Refuge de La Flegere via the Lac Blanc

From Argentiere we walk up to the high altitude lake the Lac Blanc 2352m and then down to the refuge at La Flegere. The refuge at the Lac Blanc, which features in many postcards, sits among smooth slabs of rock worn by the ancient glaciers with magnificent views of the Mer de Glace and Chamonix Aiguilles. We are quite likely to encounter bouqetin, or ibex, today and this stage includes some short sections of ladder.

Day 11. Refuge de la Flegere to Les Houches

Stepping out of the refuge in the morning you are greeted by the superb views of Mont Blanc and the Grands Jorasses among the many peaks, which continue all day. Our route traverses before climbing to the Col de Brevent. The path then traverses a wild-feeling rocky valley before the final climb, using some sections of ladder and metal rungs, to the Brevent summit 2526m.

The route continues its wild feel as we descend past the Bel Achat refuge then into the forest and down to Les Houches.

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