Tour of Mont Blanc
Complete two-way trekking guide
By Kev Reynolds
An essential guidebook for walking the Tour of Mont Blanc. The 170km route typically takes 11 days to trek around the Mont Blanc massif. The TMB is recognised as one of the world's classic treks. The book describes both anti-clockwise and clockwise directions, with variants and information about huts, refuges and facilities en route.
Seasonsearly July to mid-September is best for weather and facilities; busiest mid-July to end August
CentresChamonix, Courmayeur, Champex, Les Contamines, Les Houches, La Fouly
Difficultysuitable for fit hikers; no technical mountaineering skills needed; waymarkings; 170km (105 miles); total height gain 10,000m
Must Seeviews of the Mont Blanc range and its glaciers; mountain huts; views from Le Brévent; Mont Blanc tramway; Chamonix
The essential guidebook to the 105-mile Tour of Mont Blanc trek in the Alps. One of the best of the world's classic walks, which circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif in about eleven days through France, Switzerland and Italy.
The walk has all the excitement of the high mountains yet none of the worry of altitude sickness. It crosses numerous cols with stunning views of spectacular snow and rock peaks and accommodation along the route is plentiful. The 'official' Tour du Mont Blanc follows an established route around the main block of mountains containing not only Mont Blanc but its principal allied summits such as Verte, Chardonnet, Gouter, Géant, Jorasses, d'Argentière, Dolent and numerous others. The author describes the tour both in the traditional 'anti-clockwise' direction and the 'clockwise' direction. There are several alternative routes that subsequently link, and these are also described. The routes have been created to give the very best perspective and appreciation of the whole region. At every opportunity recommendations are made that will bring the walker into closer contact with the area.
This guide is in full colour, with points of interest, accommodation details and overview maps for every stage, along with details of the natural and cultural history of the region. There are also routes around Courmayeur and Arnuva and to Lac Blanc as well as essential practical information on travel to and around the Mont Blanc Massif, mountain safety, languages, currency and more. The result is an ideal companion to take on one of the world's greatest mountain adventures.
The Tour of Mont Blanc
Clockwise or Anti-Clockwise?
How to Get There
When to Go
Maps and Waymarks
Notes for Walkers
Safety in the Mountains
Using this Guide
Information at a Glance
The Tour of Mont Blanc – Anti-Clockwise
Stage 1 Les Houches – Bionnassay – Les Contamines
Alt Stage 1 Les Houches – Refuge de Miage – Les Contamines
Stage 2 Les Contamines – Croix du Bonhomme – Les Chapieux
Stage 3 Les Chapieux – Col de la Seigne – Rifugio Elisabetta
Stage 4 Rifugio Elisabetta – Courmayeur
Stage 5 Courmayeur – Rifugio Bonatti
Stage 6 Rifugio Bonatti – Grand Col Ferret – La Fouly
Stage 7 La Fouly – Champex
Stage 8 Champex – Alp Bovine – Col de la Forclaz
Alt Stage 8 Champex – Fenêtre d’Arpette – Col de la Forclaz
Stage 9 Col de la Forclaz – Col de Balme – Tré-le-Champ
Alt Stage 9 Col de la Forclaz – Refuge les Grands – Tré-le-Champ
Stage 10 Tré-le-Champ – Refuge La Flégère
Stage 11 Refuge La Flégère – Le Brévent – Les Houches
The Tour of Mont Blanc – Clockwise
Stage 1 Champex – Ferret
Stage 2 Ferret – Grand Col Ferret – Rifugio Bonatti
Stage 3 Rifugio Bonatti – Courmayeur
Stage 4 Courmayeur – Rifugio Elisabetta
Stage 5 Rifugio Elisabetta – Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme
Stage 6 Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme – Les Contamines
Stage 7 Les Contamines – Bionnassay – Les Houches
Alt Stage 7 Les Contamines – Refuge de Miage – Les Houches
Stage 8 Les Houches – Le Brévent – La Flégère
Stage 9 La Flégère – Col de Balme – Trient
Stage 10 Trient – Alp Bovine – Champex
Alt Stage 10 Refuge les Grands – Fenêtre d’Arpette – Champex
Places and Items of Interest on the TMB
The Story of Mont Blanc
Appendix A Accommodation
Appendix B Useful contacts
Appendix C Further reading
Appendix D French–English glossary
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The latest in the will it/won’t it saga concerning the opening of Refuge Lac Blanc this summer suggests it WILL be open from mid-June until October. Due to a lengthy ownership dispute, a new guardienne has taken over and is accepting bookings for the summer. As it is likely to be extremely busy while Ref La Flégère is closed, advanced booking is essential. This can be done through the hut’s website: https://refuge-lac-blanc.fr or by email at: contact@refuge-lac-b;lanc.fr or telephone 07 67 56 74 14
Contrary to our earlier update, there’s uncertainty whether Refuge du Lac Blanc will be open this summer (2019) due to a legal dispute concerning ownership. You are strongly advised to check with the refuge guardian (details in the guidebook) before heading there. As both Refuge la Flégère, and the Flégère-Les Praz cablecar will also be closed for the season, TMB trekkers have limited options available. I suggest the following course of action:
If tackling the TMB in the traditional counter-clockwise direction, on leaving Tré-le-Champ on Stage 10, either walk down-valley to Chamonix (for overnight accommodation), or take the Chamonix bus or train. From Chamonix ride the cablecar to Plan Praz and rejoin the TMB where it climbs to Col du Brévent.
If tackling the TMB in a clockwise direction, follow directions for Stage 8 as far as Refuge Bellachat and spend a night there. Next day continue to Tré-le-Champ for overnight accommodation and walk to Trient the following day.
April 2019Good news for trekkers tackling the TMB this summer. It looks as though the Refuge du Lac Blanc (Stage 10 counter-clockwise; Stage 9, clockwise circuit) WILL be open from mid-June to end of September after all. Contact details: Tel: +33 06 02 05 08 82 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: https://www.refugedulacblanc.frPlease note: Refuge la Flegère will remain CLOSED due to building works.
Please note that during the summer of 2019 neither Refuge La Flégère nor Refuge Lac Blanc will be open for accommodation. Since these two neighbouring refuges are crucial for Stage 10 (counter-clockwise) and Stage 8 (clockwise) trekkers will need to make alternative plans. I suggest the following options:
1] Assuming you still wish to tackle Stage 10 from Tre-le-Champ, follow route directions as per the book as far as La Flegere, then ride the cable-car down to Les Praz where you’ll find one or two hotels, and next day take the cable-car back to La Flegere to continue the route on Stage 11.
2] Skip Stage 10, and take the bus or train (from Montroc near Tre-le-Champ) down to Les Praz, ride the cable-car to La Flegere and then pick up the TMB as for Stage 11.
1] Follow Stage 8 from Les Houches to La Flégère, then ride the cable-car down to Les Praz to overnight in a hotel, and next day ride back to La Flégère to walk to Trient on Stage 9
2] Follow suggestion 1] as far as Les Praz, and next day take the bus or train to Montroc and join Stage 9 at nearby Tre-le-Champ.
Appendix A page 224 - Le Peclet in Le Champel has closed.
Please note that the grocery store in Praz de Fort is currently closed and for sale, so its future is uncertain. You’ll find this in the guidebook on p91 (anti-clockwise) and p152 of the clockwise route.
Please note: there is uncertainty whether Refuge du Lac Blanc will be open this summer (2018). We are assured that any deposits already paid will be refunded in full, but TMB trekkers are advised to seek alternative accommodation at either Tré-le-Champ (Auberge la Boerne: tel 04 50 54 05 14)’; Les Frasserands (Gite le Moulin: tel: 04 50 54 05 37); or Refuge La Flégère (tel: 06 03 58 28 14)
Please note that a footpath alternative to the long road walk north of Les Chapieux (Stage 3 Anti-clockwise/Stage 5 Clockwise) has now been created. It begins less than 1km north of Les Chapieux (p58) and is signed on the right of the road. A narrow path, it climbs above the road and crosses the river on a fine bridge, eventually joining the original route at Les Ville des Glaciers.
For those following the tour in a clockwise direction, do not cross the Torrent des Glaciers below Refuge des Mottets (p178), but keep ahead on a footpath that remains on the left bank of the river until shortly before arriving at Les Chapieux.
With thanks to reader Harris Keillar for this information.
Good news for trekkers tackling the TMB – a new privately-owned gite/refuge has been opened near Lac Combal (45 mins below Rifugio Elisabetta) in Val Veni. Cabane du Combal has 23 places in 3-4 bedded rooms, and is open from June to September (tel: 01 65 17 56 421 email: email@example.com).
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A lifelong passion for the countryside in general, and mountains in particular, drives Kev's desire to share his sense of wonder and delight in the natural world through his writing, photography and lecturing.
Claiming to be The Man with the World's Best Job, he has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Cicerone since the 1970s, producing over 50 books, including guides to five major trekking regions of Nepal, and to numerous routes in the European Alps and Pyrenees, as well as walking guides for Kent, Sussex and the Cotswolds.