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Report 1047: Mt. Blanc Summer 2006

By Robert Rainey from California, Summer 2006

Trip Description: Tour of Mt. Blanc, a 120 mile hike around western Europe's highest mountain.

Destinations: Countries - France, Italy, Switzerland

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Walking/Hiking; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 15: Trip Planning

It has been in the back of my mind to do the tour of Mt Blanc hike for many years. My wife really doesn’t like camping, and I certainly prefer more comfortable trips. What appealed to us the most was the availability of hotels and mountain inns spaced at regular intervals along the TMB trail, which means after our daily hike we could shower, rest and have dinner before crashing in a comfortable bed.

The clincher was when we did a couple of hikes in Mammoth, California(Ediza lake and Minaret lakes) and I said "You know this would be pretty close to the scenery in the Alps, the distance we hiked today would be about the same, but we would be staying in inns and hotels in the mountains. No tents, no cooking and I will carry 75% of the weight." Her response, “when can we go?" I said "how about July."

The tour of Mt Blanc (TMB) is a circuit which travels around Western Europe’s highest (4810 meters, about 15,630 feet) mountain, Mt Blanc. The first tour was by an Italian royal who in the 18th century, with the assistance of Porters and crew, circumnavigated the Mountain before a regular path was established. Now it is one of the most highly rated and popular hikes in the world, with over 10,000 people starting out each season. The season is basically mid-June until September, due to the persistence of snow the remainder of the year.

The tour can be done either clockwise or counterclockwise. We decided to go clockwise but the vast majority goes counter clockwise, mostly based on tradition. We chose our direction as it was one day less of hiking. I used the Cicerone Guide "Tour of Mont Blanc" by Kev Reynolds and the maps by the Institut Geographique National (IGN) 1:25,000.

  • 3530 Samoens, Haut-Griffe
  • 3531 St-Gervais-Les-Bains, Massif du Mt Blanc
  • 3630 Chamonix, Massif Du Mt Blanc

It is possible to sign up with a guide and have support but:

  • They generally skip 30-40 miles of the tour
  • It costs twice as much as doing it yourself. (My budget for the two of us for the land portion is 2500-3000, including days on both ends at Champex and Geneva). Example, with a guide, Moutain Travel Sobek, a tour company, charged $3500 per person!
  • We set the schedule rather than a guide, or the slowest person in the group.

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