Deciding to self-guide my trip also became a personal challenge that I wanted to take on. Could I, a woman from the Silicon Valley tech world with a poor sense of direction but the spirit for exploration navigate myself safely through this trek? Challenge accepted.
Of course, I was concerned about solo-trekking on the trail but decided I would go forth with a great attitude and meet other trekkers I could move with along parts of the trail. Much to my delight, I wound up finding trail friends I would hit it off with on the very first day. If you are apprehensive about solo-trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc, you should also know this is a well-marked route aided by the Tour du Mont Blanc trekking guide with plenty small towns and fellow hikers along the way in case you have questions.
Once in this book is in hand, decide whether you want to go clockwise or counterclockwise and how many days you want to allow to the trek. Are you going to do the full loop or partial? Making these decisions will help you decide which airports or major cities you will travel from. I would recommend reading the introduction and daily route walkthroughs several times. Decide whether you want to stay in refuges every evening or go full backpacking mode with your own tent.
Generally speaking, the season may be able to start the last week of June or early July and last until the end of September. The peak season is in August with the best weather conditions noted in early September. I trekked from mid to late September and got to encounter all sorts of weather conditions from harsh snow days, bright and sunny green pastures, to cloudy days with bouts of strong winds.
I did not need microspikes, but I did have trail runners with deep tread.
The TMB trail
The full Tour du Mont Blanc circuit is km long and is typically completed within days. Depending on the route you decide to take traditional and alternative are 11 and 10 days, respectively this number can vary. If you are going a bit later, do note that some of the refuges close for the season mid to late September. If you pre-arrange your reservations, the nice part is that most of the refuges require a small deposit or none at all for the booking.
I realized that I had mistakenly made a reservation too far away from my destination in La Fouly and simply ate the cost of my small deposit for and then made an on-the-spot reservation at another refuge in the right town. It worked out just fine, given that La Fouly had several refuges available and I was traveling during the late TMB season.
ISBN 13: 9781852846725
While the trekking guidebook does list some places, I found that this Tour du Mont Blanc website was immensely helpful to uncover other accommodations. T o get a sense of what your Tour du Mont Blanc trek might look like, here is my actual 7 day itinerary including the refuges I stayed at. Remember that you can also work in a few nice hotels during your trip in the larger cities such as Courmayeur, Italy or Champex, Switzerland.
For females, a 36L pack works marvelously in the pound range. Men may feel comfortable with larger packs around 50L size and can comfortably carry weigh in the pound range.
Of course, all of this varies from hiker to hiker. Outside of the alps, one of my favorite parts about trekking the TMB was staying at the refuges. Even though many of them only offer dormitory-style bed situations, the energy and camaraderie of each place make the entire experience special.
Looking for more world-class treks?
I recommend booking half board so you can have dinner and breakfast during your stay. Dinner is typically served at pm and is a loaded multi-course meal with lots of bread, cheese, and dessert.
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Tour of Mont Blanc
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