​​TMB - Tour du Mont Blanc

​Bespoke trips for groups

Introduction

Everything you need to know in order to plan your bespoke tour around Mont Bianco (Mont Blanc), western europes highest mountain at 4,810 metres.

The oldest recording of a journey around Mont Blanc, (White Mountain) goes to Horace Benedict de Saussure, a Swiss Geologist, who undertook the journey in 1767 (aged 27). Since then each of the surrounding peaks have attracted climbers and the journey around the mountain has attracted those seeking adventure, solitude, or both!

The tour offers you the chance to visit France, Switzerland and Italy. The cultural and physical differences in each of these countries becomes immediately obvious as you enter them, the past physical barrier meant that for much of each year it was impossible to travel from one area to the other.

Now, between June and September each year, when the snow receeds to around 3,000 metres altitude, the passes open up and the journey may be completed in warm temperartures and faily settled weather conditions.

I hope that the pictures and video clips on this page will give you a flavour of what Tough Mountain guides can offer in terms of route knowledge, flora, fauna and wildlife as well as some historical knowledge and geology of this area of the Alps.

It is time to start planning your Adventure!

Resting at the summit of the Col du Seine, border of France and Italy, after the climb from the Refuge Mottets. Mont Blanc is just hidden in the clouds.
The statue of Jacques Balmat, the crystal hunter turned guide, pointing the way to Dr Michel Paccard. This statue, in Chamonix town centre commemerates the first successful summit climb, completed on the 8th August 1786. At the time Chamonix and Mont Blanc were part of the Duchy of Savoy, a state of the Holy Roman Empire, so not Italian or French! 
Route choices

'Tough Mountain's guided TMB tours are all about the personal touch. We will engage with you to find out what sort of tour YOU WANT. From advising you on the varient routes, which can offer tougher challenges on some of the days (taking into account the 'gains' of a more rewarding view, or a higher chance to see some wildlife). Also you may want to consider the many combinations of different accommodation on routes. Spending a night in a hut does not necessarily involve sharing a dormitory with 30 other people! Some huts have smaller private rooms.

  • Start in Chamonix, France or Courmayeur, Italy?
  • Go clockwise or anti clockwise?
  • Full circuit or half circuit?
  • Accommodation types and choices?
  • Guide:client ratio, maximum of 1:10

So if you are considering this journey then get in touch with use and we'll arrange a chat on skype to discuss your personal tour.
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Sample Itinerary
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Based on a 12 day clockwise tour starting and finishing in Chamonix, France, 3 nights in huts and 9 hotel nights.

Day 1 - Arrive at Chamonix and check into the Hotel Richmonde. Meet your guide, who will run through the itinerary in more detail and answer any questions. A short stroll into town for dinner.
















Day 2 - Leaving Chamonix, we take the cable car up to Plan Praz at 2000 metres We start the grand tour with a climb of just under 500 metres towards the Aiguille de la Charlanon before turning towards  Lac Blanc for lunch. The 'White Lake', is the prime spot from which to view the Mont Blanc massif from the French side. After lunch there are oppotunities to spot Ibex as we decend into Argentiere. Distance of 12 kilometres, ascent 800m/descent 1100m.

Day 3 - Argentiere - Trient, Switzerland. Leaving our hotel, we walk through the old village of Argentiere and up to Montroc. A steady climb through the Pine forest rewards us with a view of Le Tour, and the Le Tour glacier. After a coffee break in one of the 'Alpage's' we continue up to the Col du Balme refuge, the border with Switzerland. After lunch, spent gazing down the length of the Chamonix valley, we continue up for about 30 minutes to the Tete de Balme 2,321m. Beyond, our descent begins through Alpine pastures, inhabited by grazing cattle, giving way to the pine forests before arriving in Trient. A final short climb brings us to the Col du Forclaz and our hotel. Distance 9 Kilometres and 1200 metres ascent/1100m descent.

Day 4 -  Trient - Champex Lac. The Bovine Route (800 metre ascent, 6 hrs) with a lunch stop at the 'Alpage', is the easier option. Alternatively, if the weather is suitable and the group strong, there is the Finetre d'Arpette (1200m, 8 hrs) with its glacial views. Either route ends at the Hotel Splendide in Champex Lac.

Day 5 - Champex Lac - La Fouly - An easier day with an initial drop through forests to the valley floor. Our afternoon is spent on an easy incline following the valley up through a series of farming villages, over a long extinct terminal moraine and narrow paths above the river to arrive in the small resort of  La Fouly. Overnight in hotel.

Day 6 - La Fouly - Rifugio Bonatti (Italy). This morning we climb to the Grand Col Ferret, the border of Switzerland & Italy. We are now crossing into the western flank of the Mont Blanc massif. A chance to see the glaciers close up and some of the inpressive rock formations that make up the Grande Jourasse. There are huts to stop at throughout the journey, for refreshments. Our first hut stay is in the Rifugio Bonatti, named after the famous Italian climber and explorer Walter Bonatti. Distance 14 kilometres and 1200m up/1000m decent, 7.5 hrs

Day 7 - R. Bonatti - Courmayeur. We follow the traditional TMB route, up into a rock ampitheatre before clombing to the Col Sapin. This place is very special to me, the one place on the TMB where you will find the 'Stella Alpina' (Eidelweiss) growing in it's natural environment on the rocky mountainside. We descend through forests, passing donkeys, goats and sheep before arriving in Courmayeur for a 2 night stay. 12km, 800m ascent/1400m descent. 6.5 hrs.


Day 8 - Rest day - Courmayeur. Take a ride on the Cable car up to the glacier, visit the spa at Pre st Didier, cable car up to an outdoor swimming pool for a sun bathe and swim or just walk along the old padestrianised high street of Courmayeur for Coffee and 'Gelato'. In the evening, stroll over to Dolonne and have dinner in one of the restaurants in this quiet mountain village.

Day 9 - Courmayeur - Refuge Mottets (France). Climbing above the Val Veny, offers fantastic close up views of Mont Blanc and the glaciere Miage below. We drop into the Val Veny high up and after a stop at the Rifugio Elizabetta we continue our climb to arrive at the Col du Seine, the border of Italy and France. An hour and a half descent brings us to the Refuge Mottets and our overnight stay. 14 kilometres, 1500m climb/1200m decent. 8 hrs.


Day 10 - Refuge Mottets - Refuge Nant Borrant. We follow the glacial waters along the valley for half an hour before beginning a steady climb to the Col du Fours. Many times i've seen Ibex on this reletivily quiet section, I hope we will again. From the Col, our joint highest point on the circuit, we are only 25 minutes from the Refuge Bonhomme and lunch! The video clip of the sheep (above) was taken from here. After lunch we contour around the mountain for an hour before starting our descent into the valley below to arrive at the Refuge Nant Borant, home of 'Oggy' (you'll have to book a trek if you want to know more!). 15km, 900m ascent/1000m descent. 8 hrs.

Day 11 - Refuge Nant Borrant - Les Houches - This morning we start with a walk down an anciant Roman road, to arrive at the the Notre Dame de la Gorge church. We continue along the valley to the village of Contamines and a coffee stop. After, begins a climb through the forest to the Auberge de Bionnassay for lunch. Continue up a short way after lunch to cross the cog railway that runs from Saint Gervais up to the Nidge Aiguille (Eagles nest),on route to the Goutier Hut. You now have the option of a pleasant descent into Les Houches or Cable car if you want an early finish. 14km, 

Day 12 Les Houches - Chamonix - Today we have a steady climb that will once again bring us to the Plan Praz Cable car, via Brevent, and some stunning views of the Bossons Glacier as well as the Aiguille du Midi, Mont Maudit, Mont Blanc du Tacal and Mont Blanc. A great place to picnic! After lunch we continue over Brevent and down to Plan Praz. Use the return portion of your ticket to descend into Chamonix and return to the Hotel Richmonde for the final night. 12km, 1300m ascent/500m descent. 7 hrs.

Day 13 - Departure after breakfast.



Sheep approaching the Croix du Col du Bonhomme. The shepherd is following the flock up the hill.
A bit of history about the Hotel Richmonde
​Just about to cross the suspension bridge over the Bionassay Glacial outflow at the southern end of the Mont Blanc massif, between Les Houches and Contamines, French section of the TMB.
Summit of the Col du Fours, above the Refuge de la Croix du Bohomme, France, one of the two joint heighest points of the TMB, at2,665 metres
Resting at the Aiguilette Argentiere, variant of the main route, before taking a short climb up a ladder section, heading for Lac Blanc, France. In the distance is the Aiguille Verte, 4,122 metres (left), summited by Edward Whymper and the french guide Christian Almer. To the right is the 'Dru' (Needle), 3,754 metres.
Relaxing outside the Rifugio Bonatti above the Val Ferret, Italy. A lenticular cloud is forming above the summit of Mont Blanc, 4'810 metres, in the background. ​In the extreme left of picture is the Col du Seine, the French border crossing point on the TMB.
Fitness Level

Suitable for anyone who is a regular walker. You will need to carry a medium sized rucksac, a maximum of 30 Litres in size and the total weight, based on the kit list provided, should not exceed 10 kilograms, when overnighting in huts or if not using baggage transfer for the duration of the trip.


Time & Pace

5- 8 hours per day, based on a walking speed of 3 kilometres per hour, known to some as 'Alpine plod'. It's not a race and there is plenty of time for taking in the scenery and stopping for picnic lunches on route. The tracks and paths are rocky in places, but of good quality.
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View from the Finetra L'Arpette, between Trient and Champex Lac. This TMB varient route also forms part of the Walkers Haute Route (which runs from Chamonix to Zermatt). Hopefully your day out up here will have the good weather that we had!

What's included in the price?

Guiding services each day
Half board accommodation in a mixture of hotels and refuges on the tour.

Assistance with arranging in-country transfers to/from airports or rail terminals.

Not included:
Transfer to start point, from airport. (24 euro single from Geneva)

Cable car (day 2 & day 12 - 17 euro return)
Evening meal on the arrival day.
Lunches each day - picnics can be purchased at huts and hotels
Transfer from end of trip.




Additional information


Information on how to arrive at Chamonix or Courmayeur from any airport/rail station will be included in your welcome instructions on receipt of booking. 

Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme, 2443m, French section of the TMB. This remote location can be a lunch stop or an overnight stay, depending on how you want to tackle the TMB.
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2018 Dates

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Col du Seine, the border between France and Italy. On a clear day like this there is a great view of Mont Blanc as well as smaller summits such as the 'Pyramid'. Marmots can also be seen, perched on the rocks, as you walk past on the gentle descent to Rifugio Elizabetta for your first Italian coffee!

Price Examples​​

   Full TMB, mainly hotels 
- £2,036.00 per person*

*price based on minimum group of 6 persons.  

shared twin/double room on 9 hotel nights and dormitory style accommodation (bunk beds) on 3 hut nights. Single suppliments are only possible on the nights in hotels.​​


Half TMB - Chamonix to Courmayeur - £1,170.00 per person*

*price based on minimum group of 8 persons.  
shared twin/double room on 6 hotel nights and dormitory style accommodation (bunk beds) on 1 hut night. Single suppliments are only possible on the nights in hotels.​​​



The TMB at Dusk

Looking back towards the French/Italian border from just below the Rifugio Walter Bonatti.