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Guidebook to 50 day walks in the Mont Blanc region near Chamonix and Courmayeur, plus outlines of 4 multi-day treks around both sides of the Mont Blanc massif. The walks range from 3 to 20km and cover a variety of terrains from easy valley walks to more challenging routes over boulders, scree and on via ferratas.
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|Buy your choice of routes or chapters to read online, on your mobile device or to download as a PDF to print or read.||Browse Routes|
The 54 walks in this guidebook explore the popular region around Mont Blanc(4808m), the highest mountain in Western Europe, showcasing the very best routes on both the French and the Italian sides of the massif. Includes 50 great day walks – from 3 to 20 kilometres – and 4 multi-day treks, taking in a variety of terrain including valley footpaths, airy ridges and via ferratas. Walks are organised according to the nearest town base: St Gervais les Bains and Les Contamines, Servoz and Plateau D'Assy, Les Houches, Chamonix, Argentière and Courmayeur. The multi-day treks are Vallorcine to Plaine Joux, the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges, Vallorcine to Servoz and a circuit of the Italian Val Ferret.
Walks are Graded 1 to 3: grade 1 walks are manageable by any reasonably fit person on good, usually waymarked paths, while grade 3 routes are long, tough routes, often without waymarking, making navigation difficult: there could also be some scrambling. Additionally there is often a valley walk that can be done whatever the weather, or on rest days, with children, by bike, or as a run. All routes feature a detailed route description and mapping and are illustrated with spectacular photography.
The major centres of Chamonix and Courmayeur are often busy with holidaymakers and associated industries: cafés, accommodation, and lifts and signposts... but these valleys have walks equal to anywhere for their views, terrain and variety, with their sublime glaciers plunging towards the valleys, high snowy summits glinting in the sun, flower-bedecked slopes and rocky trails. Be it spring, summer or autumn, the sheer beauty and range of the walking here will satisfy any hiker – and there are plenty of facilities for the end of the day.
We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our Feedback form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).
|How it all Started|
|Animals and Birds|
|Flowers and Trees|
|Transhumance and Alpages|
|When to Go|
|Security and Rescue|
|Walking with Dogs|
|Things not to be Missed|
|How to Use this Guide|
|Chapter 1 – St Gervais Les Bains and Les Contamines-Montjoie|
|1 Mont Truc|
|2 Mont Joly|
|3 Lac d’Armancette|
|4 Col de la Fenêtre|
|5 Tête Nord des Fours|
|6 Lacs and Monts Jovet|
|Chapter 2 – Servoz and the Plateau d’Assy|
|7 Lac Vert|
|8 Pointe Noire de Pormenaz|
|9 The Dérochoir and the Désert de Platé|
|Chapter 3 – Les Houches|
|10 Le Prarion|
|11 Mont Vorassay|
|12 Aiguillette des Houches|
|Chapter 4 – Chamonix|
|13 Chamonix Valley Walk|
|14 La Chapeau and Tête des Prapators|
|16 Montagne de Blaitière|
|17 Chalet de Cerro|
|18 Montagne de la Côte|
|19 Refuge de Bel Lachat and Le Brévent|
|20 Grand Balcon Sud – La Flégère to Planpraz|
|21 Lac Blanc|
|22 Tête de Villy|
|23 Col de Salenton|
|24 Lac Cornu and Lacs Noirs|
|Chapter 5 – Argentière|
|25 Argentière Valley Walk|
|26 Pierre à Bosson|
|27 Tête du Grand Chantet|
|28 Aiguillette d’Argentière – Les Chéserys|
|29 Argentière Glacier Pointe de Vue|
|30 Aiguillette des Posettes|
|31 Refuge Albert Premier|
|32 Croix de Fer|
|Chapter 6 – Vallorcine|
|33 Vallorcine Valley Walk|
|34 Pointe de la Terrasse and Tré-les-Eaux Valley|
|35 Cheval Blanc|
|36 Dinosaur Tracks|
|37 Bel Oiseau|
|38 Col de Barberine and Fontanabran|
|39 Refuge de la Pierre à Bérard|
|40 Mont Buet by the Normal Route|
|41 Refuge de Loriaz|
|42 Emosson from Loriaz|
|43 Mont Buet by the north ridge|
|Chapter 7 – Courmayeur|
|44 Punta della Croce|
|45 Mont Fortin|
|46 Mont Chétif|
|47 Col and Lac Liconi|
|48 Mont de la Saxe|
|49 Tête Entre Deux Sauts|
|50 Tête de Ferret|
|Chapter 8 – Multi-day Treks|
|51 Vallorcine to Plaine Joux|
|52 Tour of the Aiguilles Rouges|
|53 Vallorcine to Servoz|
|54 Italian Val Ferret Circuit|
|Appendix A Mont Blanc Region Tourist Offices|
|Appendix B Useful Terms and Glossary|
|Appendix C Transport in the Chamonix and Courmayeur Valleys|
|Appendix D Rainy Day/Rest Day Activities|
|Appendix E Hut Etiquette|
|Appendix F Climbing Peaks and Hiring Guides|
|Start||Pont de l’Ile, La Chapelle 1050m|
|Finish||Pont de l’Ile, La Chapelle 1050m|
|Distance||15km (9.3 miles)|
|Grade/difficulties||2/3, for the amount of ascent and also for the terrain which is rough, steep in ascent and descent, and in bad visibility to be avoided. Early in the season névé will probably remain on shady slopes so this walk should not be attempted until well into the summer season|
|High Point||Mont Joly 2525m|
|Map||IGN Top 25 3531 OT Megève Col des Aravis|
|Public Transport||Bus Les Contamines–St Gervais|
|Car park||Turn off the main road at a sign to La Chapelle. Follow the road around right to Les Hoches. Park at the bridge just beyond – Pont de l’Ile|
|Tip||You will probably look at the ridge running on southwards beyond the Tête de la Combaz and wonder if it’s an option. The answer is yes, but not only is this very long but it also has some precipitous sections around the Aiguille Croche. This can be done in a day but to do it north to south from Les Contamines would be a very demanding expedition. Taking the chairlift from Les Contamines to Le Signal allows the whole ridge to be traversed from south to north, but it cannot be overemphasised that this ridge is airy and exposed and a fall would have bad consequences.|
Since the summit of Mont Joly will give you the ‘Rolls Royce’ of views, save this walk for that perfect day.
Seen from Megève, the summit of Mont Joly may appear to be an easily attained objective, but don’t be fooled – whilst the ascent has a gentle pastoral start, the summit ridge bears a certain resemblance to the haute montagne, exposed and buffeted by winds.
The summit can be ascended and descended by the same route from Les Contamines, and this is a fine outing. However, once at the top your eye will be drawn to the long, narrow ridge snaking away south past several smaller tops. What a shame, having made such an effort to gain the altitude, not to continue along this delightful and unusual route – and so we shall. The walk onwards to the next peak, the Tête de la Combaz, provides a wonderful continuation before having to leave this unique position to return to the valley depths.
Mont Joly is seen from so many places down in the Arve valley that it goes without question that it must be a good viewpoint. It is actually one of the best belvederes from which to view the Mont Blanc region – an orientation table helps you to identify the many peaks which greet your arrival. Straddled between the Arve valley and the Contamines valley, it’s almost true to say that what you can’t see from here isn’t worth seeing! Close up are the Dômes de Miage and the Aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête, de Bionnassay, du Goûter and des Glaciers; beyond Mont Blanc are the Vanoise and Ecrins massifs, their distant misty summits seeming to stretch away forever. Slightly nearer, the Beaufortain can be recognised by the pronounced tooth of the Pierra Menta, whereas the limestone massifs of Belledonne, Les Bauges and the Jura present more gentle profiles. Further east the Swiss Diablerets is recognisable by its flat plateau-like summit.
This walk should be avoided in anything but good stable weather. In fog and rain it would be easy to become disorientated, especially on the eastern slopes of Mont Joly itself; the ridge, whilst not too difficult in dry conditions, quickly becomes slippery and treacherous when wet.
From the car park take the track signed to Pocherey, heading west. This leads up through meadows and soon arrives at the pretty hamlet of Le Carteyron. Don’t be distracted here – it’s very easy to miss the signpost indicating a steep 4-wheel drive track which is signed to Pocherey and takes off from behind the chalets.
Keep following the track and eventually you’ll reach the ridge which separates Les Contamines from Megève. The immediate surroundings are rather compromised by ski lifts and associated junk, but lift your eyes and admire that fabulous view of the massif.
Head up the ridge, at first on a good steep path which becomes less worn after a path heads off rightwards. Stay on the small ridge path to a flat area where a wide track heads off right, but don’t take this; instead go on to the top of a chairlift. Beyond it is a wooden hut – the path goes left of this up the ridge. It’s not obvious until you get on it, but despite being very eroded there are some paint flashes and, although steep, it’s still a proper path and it soon reaches the summit of Mont Géroux 2288m on a nice flat and grassy ridge. This is a good place to catch your breath before continuing along the all-too-obvious ridge path to a final ascent to Mont Joly and its rather fine orientation table.
The views are magnificent and you may decide to call it a day once here and return by the same route. However, the ridge may draw you on.
Once you have recovered, the onward route is not so demanding, but still requires care, especially at the start of the descent where the huge cleft of the source of the Nant de la Chovettaz stream forms an interesting obstacle. This is avoided on the right (west) to then take the ridge downwards.
Ahead is the Tête de la Combaz (2445m), and this cairn can be reached to make for a two-summit day, before retracing your steps for 200m to the path that plunges off to the east towards the Contamines valley.
The path winds down past the old buildings at La Combaz, to pick up a steeper trail near to the stream valley of the Ruisseau du Ty. Easier ground then goes down to the jeep track at Colombaz. Turn left and follow this to Le Baptieu and then along the back road staying to the west of the Bon Nant torrent all the way into La Chapelle. This last part of the walk coincides with the TMB trek so you may suddenly find there are other weary hikers around.