TMB travels through France, Italy and Switzerland. Many trekkers utilize Les Houches in France as the expedition starting and ending point. The trail winds around Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, with numerous inclines and slopes leading the trekker through seven valleys. Total altitude changes through the Tour du Mont Blanc amount to about 35,000 feet. This amounts to nearly seven miles of vertical movement while on the 112-mile trail. The trails vary from single paths through the mountains to vehicle roads through open farmland in the valleys. Most trekkers manage to cover the trail in about 11 days but times vary with the season and pace of the trekker.
The Alps offer some of the great scenic views in Europe and trekking through the mountains gives the traveller time to enjoy the sights. The panoramic views of the Arve Valley near Le Brevent mountain is particularly notable as well as the green mountain meadows near La Fouly. The TMB trail offers views ranging from calm meadows to snow shrouded peaks. Unfortunately, weather can obscure some views although the mountain weather can change rapidly.
Who Should Trek
No one who is not in good physical condition should attempt the Mont Blanc circuit. Trekkers will average about 18 km or 10 miles per day on mountain trails. Each day’s trail treks from village to village and the distance does vary. The hardest day on TMB travels from Les Contamines to Les Chapieux at 21 km or 13 miles. Some trekkers spend a day resting on the trail after particularly tough sections. Trekkers do not need any rock or mountain climbing skills but should be experienced hikers capable of walking six hours per day over hilly terrain. The trails are well marked and usually do not require any land navigation abilities.
When to Go
The mountain weather can be difficult during the winter and spring. The best trekking experiences occur between July and about September 15 each year. Trekkers who take to the trails too early will face snow in the higher passes while travelers on the trail too late in the year risk snowstorms and rainy weather.
What to Bring
Trekkers commonly wear layers of clothing and shed outer layers in warm conditions. Good hiking boots are an absolute necessity for any trekking or hiking expedition. Additional gear should include a hiking pole, sleeping bag, flashlight, water bottle, sunglasses and first aid kit. Most trekkers will also want a good camera to record the experience. Some necessary items can be picked up at the villages along the route although travelers should always make sure they have an adequate supply of any necessary medicines. Passports and identification papers are necessary when crossing international borders.