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Thread: Tour Of Mont Blanc

  1. #1
    Widdler
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    Tour Of Mont Blanc

    We are travelling to Chamonix for part of our summer (August) campervan road trip and have had a look at the Tour Of Mont Blanc (TMB) but haven't got / don't want to spend a whole week during the full tour as we are also heading to the Bernese Highlands in Switzerland for part of the trip. Our whole road trip will last 3 weeks plus two days either side for travel to and from NE Scotland.

    Having looked at the TMB, has anyone experience of it and can advise if it is possible / advisable to do part of the tour e.g. 3-4 days, perhaps from Champex to Chamonix or Les Houches? Or if we should instead just day trip from Chamonix and get our mountain fix from there? Husband has already climbed MB two summers ago. We aren't looking for technical mountaineering but are experienced hikers / multi-day trippers.

    Any advice / recommendations are welcome. I'll likely be posting something about the Bernese Highlands too once I get round to researching that bit!

    Thanks
    Hazel

  2. #2
    Goon stove man's Avatar
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    I've done it and parts of it a few times. Easy 3-4 day options are:
    1) Les Houches to Courmayeur, then bus back (several a day, run by Savda, through the MB tunnel) OR cable car back via Helbronner/MB Panoramic/Aiguille du midi
    overnights would be: Les Contamines, Les Mottets and maybe somewhere above Courmayeur, into Courmayeur in the morning
    2) Courmayeur (via bus from Chamonix) to Argentiere. Overnights would be Bonatti, La Fouly, Trient)
    3) Vallorcine to Chamonix. Train to Vallorcine, hike from vallorcine to Trient (over the mountain), then pick up TMB at Trient, overnight at Les Frasserands or similar, then Lac Blanc
    However, if you take a look at geoportail.fr for French maps (puts the OS website to shame!) then you can see that its possible to plan out an infinite variety of hikes along the Chamonix valley. There is a good train service all the way through to Switzerland, so you can get to a remote starting point and zigzag your way back.
    If you're fast/strong hikers, its possible to do: Les Houches starting point, overnight at Les Chapieux or Mottets, then Elena or La Peula, then get to Monroc and take the train back to Cham.
    www.autourdumontblanc.com has a map of the route and all the refuges, making it easy to plan sections. The key thing is that its very easy to get between Cham and Courmayeur.

  3. #3
    Widdler
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    Wow thanks! Lots of options then, and I didn't appreciate how easy it would be to get around! We are quick and strong hikers and as long as our packs aren't too heavy can cover a lot of ground in a day, so if we are staying in Refuges rather than wild camping it should be possible to be fairly ambitious with our distances.

    Thanks again
    Hazel

  4. #4
    ‹bermensch Trevor DC Gamble's Avatar
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    Just please take some simple precautions in case of the air pollution in the area still being high when you visit, ok. Was featured again last week or so on Radio4 or BBC Worldservice. A simple air mask like for the smog particles in London or Tokyo should help most probably. But yeah, it is a real and growing problem there in the valleys in that area and others around the toursit Alps, so please do bear this in mind perhaps and still have a fantastic time!Very sad to hear of this still being a problem out there but the government is swearing to solve this problem with draconian new cleaner air emissions legislation in the very near future. So much for pure and clean, healthy crisp and fresh Alpine air being the envy of the world then, hey!Not any more, sadly. a very real problem of the last many years certainly. The Radio 4 programme has a podcast version of that highlighted issue broadcast available to listen to via the BBC Radio4 website apparently too as well, most helpfully. So anyone should be able to locate it and listen in for a heads up on the situation being experienced there in the various worst affected Alpine regions, ok. I have the actual show name written down somewhere or other, so will look it out for anyone that wants it, in case locating the podcast version proves difficult there otherwise.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39115829
    Last edited by Trevor DC Gamble; 16-03-2017 at 05:36 PM.
    Trevor DC Gamble

  5. #5
    Widdler
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    So we are continuing our planning for the Tour Du Mont Blanc, and had decided just to use Refuges for convenience rather than carrying camping equipment. However, I'm finding it incredibly difficult to actually get through to refuges to make bookings. I've booked one or two, but some key ones which don't offer online booking cannot be reached. I've tried the refuges directly, the owners, the Swiss Alpine Club, the tourist office, and no one responds or is able to help.

    As an alternative we could just take the camping kit, but are there ample places to camp high up away from the refuges and without having to lose height to go into towns? What are the rules? We camped in the high Spanish Pyrenees last year with no problems, 7 nights all (except 1) above 2000m and away from the refuges.

    Our route is actually a combination of the GR5, from Samoens to Le Brevent and part of the TMB clockwise via Lac Blanc, to Col De Balme, Des Grands then finishing in Champex.

  6. #6
    ‹bermensch
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    Some of the refuges may not be open yet. Booking just a day or so in advance may make sense as the weather may cause you to delay a day or modify your plans. When I did the TMB a hut guardian advised me (correctly) not to walk that day due to snowfall. I later met some people who had walked that day, they said that the stage had been unpleasant and they needed a day off to recover!

  7. #7
    Widdler
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    As John said, calling by phone just a few days ahead (pref after checking the weather forecast!) seemed to work best on the TMB. My friend & I did it during the first 2 weeks of September & some of the refuges were rammed full even then, but we always managed to get beds.

  8. #8
    Switzerland is paradise on earth I will travel many countries but never to Switzerland it's my dream to visit that areas I think you will enjoy a lot on your trip I saw the Pictures of TMB such a wonderful place on earth

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