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Thread: Tour du Mont Blanc info wanted

  1. #1
    Widdler Tom Timberlake's Avatar
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    Hi, I am doing the TMB with some friends in the summer. We are planning to camp along the way and I wondered if anyone has any useful information about doing this (about campsites and shops etc)?
    I also wanted to find out whether there are water points along the way and, if so, how frequent are they?
    Any other information or ideas and advice about the tour would be really useful.
    Thanks.

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    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Ultra King edwin's Avatar
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    I did it last year; which sections do you want info on?

    Water is pretty easy to get (take a filter).

    Some of the alternative routes are fun.

  4. #4
    Widdler Tom Timberlake's Avatar
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    Thanks,

    I will definitely take a filter for getting water from streams but I wondered whether there were actual taps along the route?

    As for camping, do you know whether you can just pitch up anywhere because there don't seem to be many actual official campsites along the way?

  5. #5
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    There ARE enough campsites to stay at regular intervals along the way. It's just that some of them aren't particularly obvious. The most basic one I stayed on was at Les Chapieux, which is just a field beside a river. Even though it's basic, it's still mentioned in the Cicerone TMB guidebook.

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    Mini Goon
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    I've never needed to top up from streams - you can refill at campsites, mountain huts etc.

    Wild Camping is not allowed over most, if not all, of the TMB, I believe. There was an 'official wild camp' south of Les Contamines, but there are campsite, or refuges sufficiently often that there shouldn't be a problem finding somewhere to sleep.

  7. #7
    Ultra King edwin's Avatar
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    There are a few official bivvy spots - I camped unobtrusively where I fancied. Bivouacs (single pitch-late, take-down early overnights) appear to be tolerated.
    This was on a 'Refuge Robert Blanc' alternate (I can send details) and was very nice

  8. #8
    Widdler Tom Timberlake's Avatar
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    wow, that looks fantastic! I would be very grateful for some extra details if you recommend the detour.

    A couple of other questions that I had were:

    Roughly how often do you pass a moderate- sized shop where one can stock up on food supplies and camping gas?

    And, if we are going in early July, how rainy is it likely to be? (obviously thiscan bevery variable but I just want to get a basic idea)

    Cheers

  9. #9
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Food is never a problem. The most memorable food I came across was on the Swiss section. A monstrous apple strudel was left sitting on a chair outside a house, with a price tag on it. I dropped a couple of Euros down and took the lot... and it was delicious! Food won't always come from 'shops'. Sometimes it will be bar/restaurant/cafe food, but a surprising number of those will sell you bread, cake and cheese to take away. If you decide to go for the set meal at Les Chapieux, it will be rabbit. It's always rabbit. The woman breeds, butchers, skins and cooks rabbit all the time! Gas is more hit-and-miss. Basically, grab it when you see it, always have a spare cylinder, and if someone who stocks the stuff runs out, there's nowt you can do except sit by the side of the trail and weep bitter tears.

    As for rain, I walked the route just after someone I know walked it, in July one year. They walked for ten days and got nine days of miserable weather and one sunny day. I walked for the following ten days and got nine days of absolutely brilliant weather and one afternoon with a thunderstorm. I reckon you'll just get whatever weather is doing the rounds.

  10. #10
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    Just enjoy the trip. We made it from Les Houches (anticlockwise) to La Flegere without seing Mont Blanc , but had agreat trip. Tarte aux Myrtilles at the Hotel at Le Tour while a thunderstorm broke was an example.

  11. #11
    Initiate
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    hi we did it in 95 96 no problems flew to gineva? train to martigne and started from there we wild camped a lot off the way no problems was warned about wild camping on the switserland section but had no problems camp late and leave no trace no problems

  12. #12
    Mini Goon
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    I did it in 96 and the FFRP (French) guidebook commented on wild camping being illegal in the Italian Val Ferret. Went back to do it clockwise in 2005 and newer guidebooks gave the impression that wildcamping is now illegal for pretty much the whole trail. Of course, they have to catch you, which would mean you were probably doing it wrong anyway!

    I suspect that the reasons for not allowing wild camping are largely to do with the volume of visitors in the area; it's busier than the Lake District in summer, and just look at the state of some of the popular wildcamping spots there.

    Personally, I would probably not wild camp near the TMB, given how many people walk it, but I would still do so in quieter areas.

  13. #13
    Goon stove man's Avatar
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    my journal from doing it in 2004

    http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=2281

    re wild camping - I spendseveral weeks a yearin the Chamonix valley and around, and regularly wild camp. My experience on the TMB is that it is at least tolerated if not encouraged, even in places that officially do not allow it. Most refuge guardians will happily point out good locations - even e.g. at the Lac Blanc above chamonix which is a heavily visited area the gardien will recommend 3 or 4 locations. Some of the confusion/paranoia about wild camping arises from not understanding the regulations - in the chamonix area, whilst wild camping is illegal, an overnight 'bivouac' where you camp from dusk till dawn is permitted.

    The only area where it could be a problem would be the swiss section, not because of any regulations, but because most of that part is in relatively low terrain. That said, on the swiss side of the grand col ferret would be a nice spot where I'd happily camp.

    If you search on here you'll find a few threads about this including an excellent one from a year or 2 back where people discussed alternate routes,camping locations etc.

    Campsites in: Les Houches, Les Contamines, about 45mins after Notre Dame church, refuge la balme (before the col du bonhomme), les chapieux, wild camping near refuge elisabetta, authorised wild camp above refuge bertone (and can use bertone facilities if you ask nicely), La fouly, Champex (really nice one about 30 mins after champex at the 'relais d'arpette' on the fenetre 'darpette alternate), trient, Les Frasserands (after le tour), accepted wild camp spot near lac blanc (ask at the refuge and have a hot choc there while you're at it), Argentiere, Chamonix.

    Water everywhere. Can't remember any material dry stretches, don't recall ever carrying >1L. I don't bother filtering mountain streams any morebut thats an individual choice.

    Food in: Les Houches, Les Contamines, courmayeur, La fouly, champex, trient (small), Argentiere (short walk from col des montets/le tour).

    Gas: Les Houches, Les Contamines, Courmayeur. goodness knows what you're cooking on the TMB that requires refills of gas tho'.

    Weather in July? could be anything. If its hot and sunny in the mornings you'll be likely to get at least sporadic afternoon thunderstorms which are very impressive.

    Have fun.

  14. #14
    Goon Wanderlust's Avatar
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    I did it last July, started from Les Houches and did the route in the traditional, anti-clockwise direction.

    It was possible to camp outside many of the refuges (for free!) and you can still have breakfast and evening meal there if you wish (except at Refuge La Balme, I was informed). you are never any more than 2 days walk away from a shop along the route, there is a well stocked supermarket in Les Houches (they sell gas cannisters here) and a small supermarket in La Fouly.

    I recommend that you do at least one side-trip away from the TMB, my favourite diversion was away from the low-level stretch on the Swiss side, up to the Cabane d'Orny, then up on to the Plateau du Trient (you'll feel a long way from the TMB hoardes up there, I guarantee you!) I re-joined the TMB path in Val d'Arpette via Col de la Breya.

    The afore-mentioned Lac Blanc is a magnificent viewpoint for the Mont Blanc massif, and the Chalet du Lac Blanc does delicious grub!

    my write-up from last year is in this thread

  15. #15
    Ultra King edwin's Avatar
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    The Supermarket in Champex has shut - but there is a small and just about adequate Boulangerie-Epicerie further up the road by a couple of small Hotels.

  16. #16
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    I was with about a dozen people one morning on the Swiss stretch and a guy was selling peaches from a roadside stall. None of us wanted to buy any, so the guy shouted after us to catch our attention, then lobbed a couple of dozen peaches at us. Nice and tasty, but an unusual approach to retailing!

  17. #17
    Widdler Tom Timberlake's Avatar
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    Thank youall very much for thereally useful advice and information. Ithas beengreat to hear of some of your first-hand experiences and anecdotes!

    Roll on July!

  18. #18
    Ultra King edwin's Avatar
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    The Robert Blanc variant I did (from points 2-7 on the .pdf) is here

  19. #19
    Widdler
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    hi, can i ask what the average price of a meal in refuges etc and prices to stay on a camp site per night?

    was wanting ti walk the TMB this year and wanted to avoid the crowds, wondered what the weather was like in June when quiet but are the refuges etc open then?.


  20. #20
    Widdler
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    I'd also be interested in knowing the exact meal costs. I've heard you're likely to pay in the region of 20 to 30 euro, but that seems quite steep for me. Does anyone know?

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