Tour of Mont Blanc - Clockwise or Anti-Clockwise?

Although the Tour of Mont Blanc route is well established as an anti-clockwise circuit, there are arguments in favour of walking the TMB in a clockwise direction.

Cicerone's latest edition of Tour of Mont Blanc has just arrived in the warehouse. Recognised as one of the best of the world’s classic walks, it has all the excitement of a high mountain trek, with few of the worries.

Author Kev Reynolds describes both the classic anti-clockwise route as well as the clockwise route in his guidebook – so, should I go clockwise or anti-clockwise? I caught up with Kev to find out more:

“Although the Tour of Mont Blanc route is well established as an anti-clockwise circuit, there are arguments in favour of walking the TMB in a clockwise direction, the most persuasive being that by travelling ‘against the flow’ one meets different people at each night’s rest, while during the first hour or two of the walking day the path is virtually empty, then comes a wave of trekkers followed by another period of calm.

On the other hand, when following the anti-clockwise trend there are nearly always other walkers in view. This can be either comforting or distracting, depending on your outlook. As for the steepness or otherwise of ascents and descents, there’s little to choose between the two options.

The first Cicerone guide to the Tour of Mont Blanc was written by the late Andrew Harper, who naturally described the route in the traditional anti-clockwise direction. The four editions of his guidebook deservedly sold in large numbers and thereby encouraged tens of thousands of English-speaking mountain walkers to follow his preferred circuit.

Tour of Mont Blanc
Arriving at the top of the Fenêtre d’Arpette from Champex

But having walked the TMB in both directions, and seen at first hand the merits of both options, the present guidebook contains directions for anti-clockwise and clockwise routings. After all, the Tour of Mont Blanc makes such a splendid two-week holiday that there are bound to be readers who, having walked it once, will dream of doing it again.

The latest edition hopefully, will entice you to do just that, but in a different direction. However, if tackling the Tour du Mont Blanc as a clockwise circuit, it is not advisable to begin at the traditional starting point of Les Houches, for being faced with the very steep 1500m ascent to Le Brévent on the very first day would be enough to intimidate most recreational walkers.

It would be better to start at Champex in order to be mountain- fit before the first of the challenging ascents appears. Details of how to reach the start of the walk – whichever direction you choose are found in the book. Argentière is an alternative starting-point. The walking is more immediately harder, but access may be easier".

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