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A Novice Guide to Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc

Introduction

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a classic hiking trail in the Alps that circles the majestic Mont Blanc massif. It offers stunning views of glaciers, towering peaks, and verdant valleys. While the trail can be challenging at times, it is also accessible to hikers of all levels. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know to plan your own TMB adventure.

Planning Your Trip

When to Go:

The best time to hike the TMB is summer, from June to September. During these months, the weather is generally good and the mountain passes are open. However, be prepared for crowds, especially in July and August. If you’re looking for a quieter experience, consider hiking in June or early September.

How Long to Go:

The traditional TMB takes about 11 days to complete. However, you can customize your trip to fit your own schedule. There are numerous starting points and you can choose to hike the trail clockwise or counterclockwise.

Where to Stay:

There are numerous mountain refuges and hotels located along the TMB route. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during the peak season. You can also camp in designated areas, but you will need to carry all of your own gear.

What to Bring:

The most important thing to bring on the TMB is a good pair of hiking boots. You will also need a backpack, trekking poles, rain gear, and warm clothing for the higher elevations. See the [Packing List](packing-list) section below for a more detailed list.

The Route

The TMB is a well-marked trail that follows a loop around Mont Blanc. The trail passes through three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland. Along the way, you will hike through forests, over mountain passes, and past pristine lakes.

The following are some of the highlights of the TMB:

Col du Mont Blanc (2,535 m): The highest point on the TMB, offering stunning views of Mont Blanc
Lac Blanc: A beautiful lake located in the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve
Val Ferret: A picturesque valley on the Italian side of Mont Blanc
Courmayeur: A charming town located at the foot of Mont Blanc
Champex-Lac: A beautiful lake located in the Swiss Alps

Hiking the TMB

Day 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines-Montjoie

Distance: 12 km
Altitude gain: 900 m
Highlights: Start of the TMB, stunning views of Mont Blanc

Day 2: Les Contamines-Montjoie to Col du Bonhomme

Distance: 13 km
Altitude gain: 1,100 m
Highlights: Cross into Italy, scenic climb to Col du Bonhomme

Day 3: Col du Bonhomme to Les Chapieux

Distance: 15 km
Altitude gain: 350 m
Altitude loss: 1,250 m
Highlights: Descend into the Val Montjoie, charming village of Les Chapieux

Day 4: Les Chapieux to Courmayeur

Distance: 12 km
Altitude gain: 850 m
Altitude loss: 1,300 m
Highlights: Spectacular climb to Col de la Seigne, descent into Val Ferret

Day 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

Distance: 16 km
Altitude gain: 1,300 m
Altitude loss: 900 m
Highlights: Ascend to Col du Petit Saint-Bernard, stunning views of Mont Blanc from Rifugio Bonatti

Day 6: Rifugio Bonatti to Champex-Lac

Distance: 12 km
Altitude gain: 350 m
Altitude loss: 1,350 m
Highlights: Cross into Switzerland, descent into Val d’Entremont

Day 7: Champex-Lac to Trient

Distance: 13 km
Altitude gain: 550 m
Altitude loss: 600 m
Highlights: Scenic hike along the Trient River, climb to Col de la Forclaz

Day 8: Trient to Col de Balme

Distance: 16 km
Altitude gain: 1,300 m
Altitude loss: 900 m
Highlights: Ascend to Col de Balme, stunning views of Chamonix Valley

Day 9: Col de Balme to Le Tour

Distance: 12 km
Altitude gain: 350 m
Altitude loss: 650 m
Highlights: Descend into Chamonix Valley, charming village of Le Tour

Day 10: Le Tour to Les Houches

Distance: 12 km
Altitude gain: 400 m
Altitude loss: 800 m
Highlights: Follow the Arve River back to Les Houches, end of the TMB

Packing List

Hiking boots
Backpack
Trekking poles
Rain gear
Warm clothing
First-aid kit
Toiletries
Sunscreen
Sunglasses
Water bottle
Snacks
Map and compass
Whistle

Tips

Start training for the TMB well in advance.
Break in your hiking boots before your trip.
Pack light.
Drink plenty of water.
Be prepared for all types of weather.
Respect the environment.
Have fun!

Conclusion

The Tour du Mont Blanc is an unforgettable hiking experience. With its stunning scenery, challenging trails, and charming villages, it is a must-do for any hiker. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hiker, the TMB has something to offer everyone.

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