Tour of Mont Blanc - Self guided
Introduction

Welcome to your self guided Tour of Mont Blanc!
On this page you can find out all about the 'Tough Mountain' self guided options for trekking around Mont Blanc. Whether you want to go clockwise, anti clockwise, do a half tour (either way) or mix the itinerary, so that you can take extra breaks on route to explore some area's a little bit more.
We offer competetive pricing for all budgets and accommodation needs, from huts to hotels!
So please, browse the page and start planning your 2017 adventure today! 
Looking at Mont Blanc one evening, last September, from above the Val Ferret (Italy), a couple of hundred metres below the Bonatti hut
Navigation on your self guided tour

Whilst a Self Guided trip offers the excitement of exploration in unfamiliar territory, using the map and the trip notes provided, once you hit the higher remote mountainside on each day of the tour, you may still require the use of map and compass. If you are unfortunate enough to experience a day when the rain is horizontal or mist/low cloud obscures the view or even the path (they are faily rare).
Having guided this route more than a dozen times in the last four years, I have on many occassions, been asked by lone walkers or small groups in remote places for confirmation that they are going the right way. I would rather you didn't get to this stage!

When it comes down to it, trip notes will become an AID to Navigation in bad visability. To see the whole picture you still need to be able to read a map and navigate with it.

So before you skip forward to the itinerary, please answer the following questions honestly:

Do you know what map orientation is? Can you orientate the map using the compass?

Are you confident in 'interpreting' the features on the map? A path, a stream junctions, a col, rock outcrops and cliffs?

Can you visulizie what contour lines on the map, look like on the ground - examples might be concave or convex slopes. How steep you would expect them to be? (the closer together the contour lines are, the steeper the slope).

Can you identify a path that you want to follow and take a compass bearing from the map, in order to point the way?

Measure the distance to the next identifable feature, using the corect scale, found on the on the compass 'base plate'?

If the answer is yes, then I am sure you will be able to extract yourself from a situation where the weather has closed in and visability has been reduced.

If you were not so confident in your answers then why not take a short Navigation course with 'Though Mountain' to brush up your skills?
 
​We can arrange a one or two day course in the United Kingdom or in Chamonix, France, prior to the start of your trips.

Part of the self guided booking conditions include a declaration that you can answer yes to all of the above questions, so if this isn't for you, why not consider a guided tour instead?


Looking back at the Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme (2443 metres altitude) after lunch. This beautiful location is wildly regarded as one of the remotest locations on the TMB

The iconic traditional route marker found on the Italian sections of the TMB

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?
When to go?

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.

Sample Itinerary

The itinerary below is the BASIC interary, completing the Tour in 11 days, clockwise, starting and finishing in Chamonix, France. If you would like a rest day in Courmayeur, Italy, you should book the BASIC 14 day tour. 

Day 1 - Arrive at Chamonix and check into the Hotel Richmonde. After settling in you can wonder down the high street and take coffee or head into one of the many outdoor stores if you need any last minute gear.
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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. 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 your 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 you are feeling strong, there is the Finetre d'Arpette (1200m, 8 hrs) with its glacial views. Either route ends in Champex Lac.

Day 5 - Champex Lac - La Fouly - An easier day with an initial drop through forests to the valley floor. The 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.

Day 6 - La Fouly - Valle Ferret (Italy). This morning climb to the Grand Col Ferret, the border of Switzerland & Italy. You 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. A compulsory hut stay is in the Rifugio Bonatti, named after the famous Italian climber and explorer Walter Bonatti. Luckily it is probably the most spacious, comfortable hut on the TMB! Distance 14 kilometres and 1200m up/1000m decent, 7.5 hrs


Day 7 - R. Bonatti - Courmayeur. Follow the traditional TMB route, up into a rock ampitheatre before climbing 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.

 12km, 800m ascent/1400m descent. 6.5 hrs.

Day 8 - Courmayeur - Rifuio Elizabetta Soldini. Climbing above the Val Veny, offers fantastic close up views of Mont Blanc and the glaciere Miage below. We drop into the Val Veny before following the main path past the Miage glacier. A final 200 metre ascent brings us to the Rifugio Elizabetta 1100m climb/300m decent. 5 hrs.


Day 9 - Rifugio E. Soldini - Refuge Croix du Col du Bonhomme. The day begins with a climb to the Col du Seine, the border with France. We then descend to the Refuge Mottets before beginning a steady climb to the Col du Fours. Many times i've seen Ibex on this reletivily quiet section, I hope you do too. From the Col, the joint highest point on the circuit, we are only 25 minutes from the Refuge Croix du Col du Bonhomme 
14.5 km, 1135m ascent/700m descent. 8 hrs.

Day 10 - Refuge Croix du Col du Bonhomme - Chalet du Truc. The morning is spent on a long but easy descent, passing several refuges on route where you can get coffee. Continuing along the valley to the village of Contamines. After, begins a climb through the forest before emerging onto a small plateau and the Chalet. 17.5 km, 500m ascent, 7 hrs.


Day 11 - Chalet du Truc - Refuge Michel Fagot, Les Houche. Descend to the Chelet Miage, 45 minutes. Then a 500 metre climb to the Col du Tricot. After there is an easier descent, then a wire bridge crossing of the Bonassey glacier outflow. An easy and steady ascent brings you to the Col du Vosa and part of the cog railway that runs down to St Gervais. From here we descend into the village of Les Houche.
10km, 650m ascent. 5 hours with stops.

Day 12 Les Houches - Chamonix - Today a grand ascent 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, 1550m ascent/500m descent. 7 hrs.

Day 13 - Departure after breakfast.

Prices

£1,180 pp Basic 13 day Itinerary

£1,290 pp Basic 14 day Itinerary (incl rest day)

£1,480 pp 13 day Itinerary, mostly hotels

£1,590 pp, 14 day Itinerary, mostly hotels (incl rest day)

On the northern end of the Mont Blanc massif, sit the Aiguille Verte and the 'Dru', photographed from the Lac Blanc side of the Chamonix Valley
Above: the Argentiere Glacier. You can reach this view by cable car from Argentiere and a walk of just over 1 hour. 
Below: the tip of the Argentiere Glacier. about 45 minutes above the cable car station you can picnic in safety, whilst watching for the occasional chunck of ice to fall off!

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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Mont Blanc at Dusk, late summer 2016
The footbridge across the Bionnassay Glacial outflow, one of the optional routes between Contamines and Les Houches, french section of the TMB.
Meeting some Donkey's on the TMB above Courmayeur, Italy
I contacted a vet and sent some photo's - turned out they have a bit of sunburn after rubbing their heads on tree branches or, more likely, a barbed wire fence. 

What's included in the price of Basic Itinerary's


Maps, detailed daily itinerary and trip notes.
Half board accommodation 9 nights in mountain huts 

Bed & Breakfast 3 nights in a hotel.

If you are traveling as a couple or family of 4,6 or 8 there are limited private rooms available in some huts. Please ask prior to booking if you would prefer this option (subject to availability and additional costs of around 10-15 euro per person per night)

Not included:
Transfer to start point, from airport. (currently 24 euro single from Geneva)
Cable car (17 euro return)

Evening meal in Chamonix and Courmayeur (nights 1,7 & 12)
Lunches each day - picnics can be purchased at huts, usually costing 9-15 euro.
Transfer from end of trip.



What's included in the price of Hotel Itinerary's

Maps, detailed daily itinerary and trip notes.
Half board accommodation 2 nights in mountain huts & 7 nights hotels
Bed & Breakfast 3 nights in a hotel.


Not included:
Transfer to start point, from airport. (currently 24 euro single from Geneva)
Cable car (17 euro return)
Baggage transfer (around 170 euro for a 15kg case)

Single room suppliments in hotels
Evening meal in Chamonix and Courmayeur (nights 1,7 & 12)
Lunches each day - picnics can be purchased at huts, usually costing 9-15 euro.
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. 




2018 Dates

Any time from mid June until mid September.

​Just press the button below to go to the contact page
or call +44 7955 280053 to discuss your requirements


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