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Mont Blanc Guided Walk

Mont Blanc Guided Walk

Trip Highlights

  • Trek through stunning alpine scenery around the highest peak in Western Europe
  • Experience the exhilaration of trekking through three countries in the European Alps
  • Enjoying the culinary specialties such as Raclette
  • Sharing your walking day with a group of like minded travellers

Trip Summary

The historic Tour du Mont Blanc is easily one of the most spectacular walks of the world. Brimming with incredible vistas from high mountain passes, lush valleys and highway sized glaciers, alpine scenery does not get much better than this. Joining an international group led by a bilingual mountain guide, the emphasis is on full immersion into the sublime mountain culture, with overnights in cosy mountain refuges or charming village gîtes. Carrying only a day pack, our mules transport your luggage leaving you free to enjoy the days walk. Commencing from the Chamonix Valley in France, the route takes you through Italy and Switzerland during a horseshoe circuit around the Mont Blanc massif. There is plenty of time to enjoy the small villages along the way, including the delightful hamlets of La Fouly and Trient.

Suitability

MODERATE to CHALLENGING – GRADE 4 - 5

The walking is moderate to advanced (4 - 5) grade with daily guided walks of around 5 to 9 hours, between 8 and 15 km and maximum ascents of 1400 metres per day. There are some challenging stages during the walk with steep uphills, descents, and many sections of the trail which require care. The accent is on keeping a steady pace with time to stop and take photos (subject to weather conditions). You will need a good to excellent level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. It is considered suitable for experienced walkers only. Early in the season (June) you may encounter snow on the passes which may be quite deep and alter the grading of the trip to challenging. At any time during summer, weather conditions may be variable and you should be prepared for all conditions including snow, ice, strong sun and extreme winds.

Itinerary

Leaving from the village of Le Tour or Chamonix you take the scenic high mountain path of Balme heading towards Switzerland. Weather permitting you will be able to take some wonderful photos of the Mont Blanc chain including the impressive “La Verte”, the Drus and the Needles of Chamonix. You will cross the border between France and Switzerland before making your way down to the village of Trient for overnight accommodation.

Meals:  L,D

There are two alternative routes between Trient and Champex. The first is via the Mountain of Bovine which involves crossing the Forclaz Pass (1527m) where there are beautiful lake views. The other, is The “Fenêtre d'Arpette” (2665m) route, which is a variant on the Tour du Mont Blanc and is quite challenging. In adverse weather conditions this pass is not recommended. The trail is not as well defined as the lower route but as with many pass crossings, the rewards on a good weather day are the extraordinary views to the Trient Glacier. The descent to Champex is steep though you will have the opportunity to have a hot shower at your lodge.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning you take a bus transfer to the small village of Ferret (1705m) and commence walking. The route takes you out of Switzerland and into Italy by the Grand Col Ferret (2537m) pass. It’s a steady climb and at the Col you will be awe inspired by the sweeping views of the Pre de Bar glacier. After some time drinking in the panorama you can amble down the steep track to your overnight accommodation at the Refuge Elena which is located at the base of the glacier and a great place to view the changing light on the alps.

Meals:  B,L,D

This mornings walk takes you through the Val Ferret and along a balcony path with impressive views of the Grand Jorasses, Mont Blanc and in the distance the Col de la Seigne marking the border between France and Italy. On reaching Refugio Bonatti there are two options to reach Berthone. The newly rerouted TMB trail takes you traverses the north flank of Monte de la Saxe, whilst the former official TMB route takes you along the crest of Monte de la Saxe. Both are high trails with fabulous views of the Brenva face of Mont Blanc and the dramatic Aiguille Noire. Overnight Rifugio (1989m).

Meals:  B,L,D

Descend from the refuge to Courmayeur (900m or around 2 hours). Nestled at the end of Italy's Aosta Valley it is an atmospheric town which is worthy of some light exploration and a good place to taste the renowned and delicious Italian gelato. If the weather is good, we continue on foot from Courmayeur towards Elisabetta Refuge by crossing the Checroui Pass (2185m), following which a magnificent balcony trail offers expansive views of glaciers tumbling from the heights of Mont Blanc. In the event of bad weather a short bus ride on from Courmayeur takes us to La Visaille from where we ascend the enchanting valley where the enormous Miage glacier flows down into Lake Combal. On the Italian side of Mont Blanc, one gains a completely different perspective of the highest peak in the European Alps.

Meals:  B,L,D

You make your way over the Col de La Seigne mountain path, which is overhung by limestone pyramids and the Estelette Glacier, until you reach France. The trail then descends across the high mountain pastures to the City of the Glaciers. Today also provides an excellent opportunity to buy Beaufort cheese from the local farmers. A big ascent (940m) takes us to our overnight refuge just below the pass of Col de la Croix.

Meals:  B,L,D

This mornings walk takes you up mountain pastures to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2483m) where there are brilliant views southeast to the peaks of the Vanoise. The trail continues down to the Col du Bonhomme (2329m) and crosses the Contamines Natural Reserve. A sharp descent through a pine forest fringed gorge takes you to an ancient Roman Road and the church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, where there is a bus or taxi service to Le Fayet and Chamonix.

Meals:  B,L

Spring and Autumn Itinerary

Leaving from Chamonix, we take a balcony path 2000m above Chamonix town. Heading up the valley the trail takes in the huge expanse of the Mont Blanc Massif, the Argentiere glacier and the Aiguille du Tour (3542m). It is an exhilarating walk and a fabulous start to the week. Overnight Montroc.

Meals:  L,D

From Montroc village we head towards Switzerland. Weather permitting you will be able to take some wonderful photos of the Mont Blanc chain including the impressive “La Verte”, the Drus and the Needles of Chamonix. You will cross the border between France and Switzerland before making your way down to the village of Trient for overnight accommodation.

Meals:  B,L,D

If there is no snow we will take the “Fenêtre d'Arpette” (2665m) route, which is a variant on the Tour du Mont Blanc and is quite challenging. In adverse weather conditions this pass is not recommended. The trail is not as well defined as the lower route but as with many pass crossings, the rewards on a good weather day are the extraordinary views to the Trient Glacier. Alternatively we will walk via the Mountain of Bovine which involves crossing the Forclaz Pass (1527m) where there are beautiful lake views. The descent to Champex is steep though you will have the opportunity to have a hot shower at your lodge.

Meals:  B,L,D

Although this is most definitely an easier day, it is also one that highlights some amazing natural beauty. Dry meadows, pools of fresh water, herds of cows and wonderful chalets surrounded by flower filled gardens abound. Swiss village life is all around and the lower valleys at the base of the Mont Blanc Massif provide a contrast to the high alpine meadows of the previous and following days. A further highlight of the day is the wonderful “Valais des Hommes” and the beautiful mountain views at La Fouly. Overnight in La Fouly.

Meals:  B,L,D

The route takes you out of Switzerland and into Italy by the Grand Col Ferret (2537m) pass. It’s a steady climb and at the Col you will be awe inspired by the sweeping views of the Pre de Bar glacier. After some time drinking in the panorama you can amble down the steep track to your overnight refuge accommodation which is located at the base of the glacier and thus provides a great opportunity to witness it under changing light. Descend to the roadhead. Transfer by bus to the Italian ski resort town of Courmayeur. Nestled at the end of Italy's Aosta Valley it is an atmospheric town which is worthy of some light exploration and a good place to taste the renowned and delicious Italian gelato.

Meals:  B,L,D

From Courmayeur we head towards France. You make your way over the Col de La Seigne mountain path, which is overhung by limestone pyramids and the Estelette Glacier, until you reach the border. The trail then descends across the high mountain pastures to the City of the Glaciers. Today also provides an excellent opportunity to buy Beaufort cheese from the local farmers. Note: depending on the weather conditions, part of the route may be travelled by bus, shortening the walking distance to around 5 hours.

Meals:  B,L,D

This mornings walk takes you up mountain pastures to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2483m) where there are brilliant views southeast to the peaks of the Vanoise. The trail continues down to the Col du Bonhomme (2329m) and crosses the Contamines Natural Reserve. A sharp descent through a pine forest fringed gorge takes you to an ancient Roman Road and the church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, where there is a bus or taxi service to Le Fayet and Chamonix.

Meals:  B,L

Joining Notre Dame de la Gorge

Today begins by meeting the rest of the group and your guide at the little church of Notre Dame de la Gorge next to the river Bon Nant. You will be advised of the meeting point with your tour confirmation. There will be a short briefing where you will pack gear in the kit bags provided (to be loaded onto the mule) and begin walking. The route follows the classic anti clockwise direction, with the first day of walking one long ascent to the Col du Bonhomme (2329m) and a short time later to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2483m). Enroute there is ample opportunity to take in the stunning views and appreciate the historic nature of this route from France to Italy. First encounters with Marmots are likely, although being quite shy they disappear quickly. Along the route you are likely to encounter snow, particularly earlier in the season, so boots are essential. The refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme is the highest we stay at on this section of the trail and one of the few where vehicle access is not possible. In early or late season departures where the mule's are unable to cross the Col du Bonhomme, you may need to carry your overnight requirements. From the refuge the views are expansive and impressive and there is also the opportunity to view wildlife such as Ibex and Marmot. Overnight refuge with shower.

Meals:  L,D

Descend steeply through alpine pastures brimming with wildflowers to the small hamlet of Chapieux. Today there will be opportunities to visit cheese farmers and purchase Beaufort Cheese if the dairy is open. A gentle ascent takes you up the Valley of Glaciers before a steeper and more sustained ascent to the Italian border. The ascent to the Col de la Seigne (2516m) is via a series of steep switchbacks which open out to a wide trail when you reach the pass. The view across to the Glacier des Glaciers is superb from this pass. On a cold and windy day, the new information centre is a welcome respite in addition to offering a wealth of facts about the region. Continue to Rifugio Elisabetta which has a prime location, excellent view of the glacier and surrounding peaks and superb Italian mountain cuisine. Overnight refuge with shower.

Meals:  B,L,D

In the enchanted valley of Veni, the enormous Miage glacier flows down into the beautiful Lake Combal. This is the Italian side of Mont Blanc that is offered to you from a truly beautiful standpoint and is perhaps the most enjoyable on the route. The trail continues along the flat valley floor overlooked by the serrated rock pinnacle of Aiguille Noire de Peuterey (3773m). There are some steep climbs, rewarded by magnificent alpine views, before we arrive in the town of Courmayeur, where you should definitely make the most of the amazingly delicious Italian Gelato (ice cream). A short bus transfer takes us to the next stage of the walk where we then climb up to Elena refuge with its excellent views to the glacier and mountains beyond. Overnight refuge with shower.

Meals:  B,L,D

The sight of the Pré de Bar glacier, (a glacier that boasts a perfect tongue formation), is with us all the way as we make our way to the Grand Col Ferret (2537m), and the whole atmosphere is out of this world, and despite the climb is a very rewarding section of the walk. The col marks the border of Switzerland and Italy and the trail becomes wider and more defined on reaching the border. The descent from the pass takes you to the valley floor and eventually the charming village of La Fouly. Overnight Hotel with shower.

Meals:  B,L,D

Although this is most definitely a quieter day, it is also one that brings you into contact with some scenes of amazing natural beauty. Dry meadows, pools of cold, fresh water and chalets that are as black as the small Heren cows that roam about, and are surrounded by flower filled gardens. Swiss village life is all about us and whilst the dramatic scenery of previous days is not as apparent today, it is a chance to experience the wonderful “Valais des Homes”. Overnight gîte with shower.

Meals:  B,L,D

Our group takes the “Fenêtre d'Arpette” (2665m) route, which is a variant on the Tour du Mont Blanc and quite a challenge. The morning’s hike is almost completely uphill and the trail is not as well defined as on previous days but as with many pass crossings on this route, the rewards on a good weather day are extraordinary views, this time across to the Trient Glacier. This ascent will be one of the most memorable moments of the trek! From the pass there is an initially steep ascent before the gradient levels out to the Trient Valley. This evening will be spent in a gîte in Trient with shower.

Meals:  B,L,D

On our last days walk we make our way to the Balme mountain passage. Weather permitting we will be afforded wonderful views over the Mont Blanc chain. Our walk concludes in the Chamonix Valley at Le Tour.

Meals:  B,L

What's Included

  • 6 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners (does not include drinks) – continental breakfasts are served and usually consist of breads, jams, coffee, tea and juices. Lunch is picnic style. Dinner will consist of 2 or 3 courses which include regional specialties.
  • 6 nights accommodation in mountain refuges / gîte hostels on a dormitory share basis. It is possible to spend 5 nights in a double room – supplement applies.
  • Luggage transfer by mule (max 7kgs, early and late season departures use luggage van)
  • Experienced mountain guide
  • Group internal transfer by bus

What's Not Included

  • Travel to and from the trail head
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Storage of luggage
  • Transfers
  • Travel insurance

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:7 Days
Countries:France, Italy, Switzerland
Starting Point:Chamonix Valley
Activities:Guided Walking
Grade:Moderate to Challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:MBG
Prices From:GBP£670 Per Person