This webpage is the story of our hike of the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). We did the hike in August of 2015. The TMB is a distance of 105 miles, with a total elevation gain of more than 29000 feet - which higher than the top of Mount Everest. We followed the traditional route by in a counter-clockwise direction around the loop. The traditional starting point is in les Houches, but of course you can choose to start at any point and hike the complete circuit. We opted to begin at la Flégère rather than at les Houches so that our rest day in Courmayeur would occur after 5 days of hiking instead after stage 4.

The best reason to go on the Tour of Mont Blanc is the beautiful scenery. Mont Blanc is the tallest peak in Western Europe, so it is cloaked in white glaciers that standout against warm blue skies. Another reason for doing this trek is for the sense of accomplishment - over a hundred miles of hiking in the Alps is no small achievement. Also, we met other hikers along the route, from many different countries around the world.

Two of my nephews, James and Stephen, were able to join us for the first six stages. They could not get enough vacation time to complete the entire circuit, but perhaps they will return some day with nephews of their own. Melanie and I walked the entire TMB.

We enjoyed fantastic weather - it was warm and sunny most days (while we hiked the French Alps, the weather report said central Germany was suffering from 100 degree temperatures). Only on stage 6, hiking to Refugio Walter Bonatti, did we get rained upon. The whole trip went (mostly) well, and we finished with some fantastic memories. The following webpages show the pictures from our trip. If you are contemplating this hike, I encourage you to go.

Below is a trail map, showing each stage, the distance and elevation, and the major passes that we climbed.

Stage

Distance

Elevation Gain

Ending Town

1 17 km 772 m les Houches
2 16 km 646 m les Contamines
3 18 km 1316 m les Chapieux
4 15 km 1004 m Refugio Elisabetta
5 20 km 460 m Courmayeur
6 12 km 860 m Refugio Walter Bonatti
7 20 km 895 m La Fouly
8 15 km 420 m Champex
9 16 km 742 m Trient
10 13 km 1069 m Tre le Champ
11 8 km 733 m Chamonix

Totals

170 km (105 miles)

8917 m (29255 ft)

There is a lot of up and down hiking on the Tour of Mont Blanc! I found it harder to go down than up - the strain on my knees on the steep downhills was painful on some days. We did not carry hiking poles. We did discover that walking backward down the steep trails (where it was wide enough) took a lot of pressure off the knees.

We carried day packs with a capacity of 40 liters. We carried only clothing and personal items - no food, no tents, no sleeping bags, no cooking utensils. This lightened the load, but I still think we brought too much. The secret is to wash your clothes each night. Because we had light synthetic clothing, it dried by morning (except for the hiking socks - they were still damp at morning, so we attached them to our packs so that they quickly dried in the warm air.) We left an extra bag of clean clothes at our hotel in Chamonix, and then picked it up when we finished our hike; so we had clean clothes for the flight home.

The Schedule

Sunday: July 26

Monday: July 27

Tuesday: July 28

Wednesday: July 29

Thursday: July 30

Friday: July 31

Depart at 1:35 PM from Seattle and fly to Frankfurt on Lufthansa #491, arrive at 8:15 AM

James + Stephen depart Washington DC at 5:30 PM, for Geneva on United #974

Saturday: Aug 1

James + Stephen arrive in Geneva at 7:40 AM

3 1/2 hour layover in Frankfort

Depart Frankfurt at 11:40 AM on Lufthansa #1216, arrive in Geneva at 12:45 PM

Afternoon explore of Geneva

Stay in Geneva at Holiday Inn Express Geneva Airport

Sunday: Aug 2

Return to airport to take morning shuttle (Alpy Bus) to Chamonix

Go to Chamonix in the morning and ride the cable car to Plan de l'Aiguille

1 hour round trip hike to Lac Bleu

Hike the Traversée Plan de l’Aiguille to Montenvers, One of Chamonix’s classic rambles. Include hike up Le Signal Forbes for view of Mer de Glace

Hike all the way down to Chamonix

Stay in Chamonix at Hotel Le Faucigny

Monday: Aug 3

Stage 1 of hiking on TMB:

17 KM from la Flégère to les Houches

Walk 3 km from Chamonix hotel to base of Flégère cable car

High point at la Brévent

Stay in Les Houches atChalet Hotel Les Campanules

Tuesday: Aug 4

Stage 2 of hiking on TMB:

16 KM from les Houches to les Contamines

Climb up to the pass at Col de Voza

Walk trail thru many tiny French villages until we reach les Contamines

Stay in les Contamines at La Ferme de Bon-Papa

Wednesday: Aug 5

Stage 3 of hiking on TMB:

18 KM from les Contamines to les Chapieux

Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge

Follow an ancient Roman road up to Col de la Croix du Bonhomme

Stay in les Chapieux at Les Chambres du Soleil

Thursday: Aug 6

Stage 4 of hiking on TMB:

15 KM from les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta

Memorials to the French resistance

Enter into Italy at Col de la Seigne

Ibex sighting!

Stay at Rifugio Elisabetta

Friday: Aug 7

Stage 5 of hiking on TMB:

20 KM from Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur

Cracking views of Valle Veni and Mont Blanc

Gelato in Courmayeur

Mel & Art stay in Entrèves atHotel la Grange

Stephen and James stay in Courmayeur at Vieux Pommier

Saturday: Aug 8

Rest Day in Courmayeur

Take cable cars up to Helbronner, then ride the gondola over the ice field to Aiguille du Midi

Elevator to the top of Aiguille du Midi

Return trip on the gondola. Walk (briefly) on the glacier.

Mel & Art stay in Entrèves atHotel la Grange

Stephen and James stay in Courmayeur at Vieux Pommier

Sunday: Aug 9

Stage 6 of hiking on TMB:

12 KM from Courmayeur to Lavachey

Stay at Rifugio Walter Bonatti

Monday: Aug 10

James + Stephen take shuttles from Lavachey back to Geneva, stay at Holiday Inn Express Geneva Airport

Stage 7 of hiking on TMB:

20 KM from Lavachey to la Fouly

Cross into Switzerland at Grand Col Ferret

Ice cream for dinner!

Stay in la Fouly at Hotel Edelweiss

Tuesday: Aug 11

James + Stephen fly to USA at 9:20 A.M. on UA957

Stage 8 of hiking on TMB:

15 KM from la Fouly to Champex

Stay in Champex at Gite Bon Abri

Wednesday: Aug 12

Stage 9 of hiking on TMB:

16 KM from Champex to Trient

Stay in Trient at Auberge Mont-Blanc

Thursday: Aug 13

Stage 10 of hiking on TMB:

13 KM from Trient to Tre le Champ

Tre le Champ at Gite Auberge la Boerne

Friday: Aug 14

Stage 11 of hiking on TMB:

8.5 KM from Tre le Champ to la Flégère via Chalet du Lac Blanc

Climb the famous iron ladders

Ibex sighting!

Complete circuit of TMB! Take cable car down and walk back to Chamonix

Stay in Chamonix at Hotel Le Faucigny

Saturday: Aug 15

Rest Day in Chamonix

All day rain prevents us from seeing much of anything or going any where. Glad not to be hiking this day.

Take Alpy Bus shuttle to Geneva

Stay in Geneva at Holiday Inn Express Geneva Airport for $137

Sunday: Aug 16

Depart Geneva at 7 AM for Frankfurt on Lufthansa #1229, arrive at 8:20 AM

2 1/2 hour layover

Depart Frankfurt at 10:45 AM on Lufthansa #490, arrive in Seattle at 11:40 AM

Monday: Aug 17

Tuesday: Aug 18

Wednesday: Aug 19

Thursday: Aug 20

Friday: Aug 21

Saturday: Aug 22



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