Highlights of the Tour du Mont Blanc

My 24th multi-day walk, the Tour du Mont Blanc was the most consistently spectacular walk I’ve done to date. I’ve walked extensively in New Zealand, and in Patagonia, Australia, Georgia and the Albanian Alps, and the original Alps were in many ways as good, or better, than any of them.

The sheer quantity, and surprising variety, of epic views over the course of eight day was almost too much, my appreciation of glaciers started to diminish after seeing a dozen in a few days. It was also, understandably given the scenery and it’s accessibility, very busy, even during the penultimate week before the end of the season. So while I loved the views, I enjoyed the experience on the track less, particularly compared to the relative wilderness of the New Zealand bush or Australian outback.

It helped that I was extremely lucky with the weather, having only one day of rain, and clear blue skies for most of the walk. The previous week, when the world famous Ultra was held, was a wash out. The joys and sorrows of a weather dependent activity…

As mentioned there were rather a lot of glaciers, which are always incredible things, though also tragic given the rate at which they are retreating. The Tour offers views of them from every angle, across the valley, from the side, and just below if you spend the night at Refuge Robert Blanc, off the main TMB route.

The refuges were a new concept to me, offering relative comfort and allowing a much lighter pack than usual to be carried. They were always located in spots with wonderful views, and provided contrast to the landscapes they sit within.

 

Although the beginning of the season in June is the best time for wild flowers, there were still plenty around at the end of the season to add a splash of colour.

As ever the best time for photography was at the start and end of the day, as the sun crept over or disappeared behind the mountainside, bathing the landscape in light.

Finally there were far fewer lakes that I’d expected, compared with New Zealand in particular, but those there were (mainly on stage 10 around Lac Blanc, and Lac du Champex) were quite spectacular.

6 thoughts on “Highlights of the Tour du Mont Blanc”

  1. I really enjoyed your series of posts on the TMB! Maybe I’ll do a part of it next summer!

    Have you been to the Dolomites? It is part of the Italian Alps, 2 hours north of Venice. I did the Alta Via 2 last year and it’s spectacular! It’s on the Italian side, so drier and many less glaciers (really just the Marmolada) but the mountains are so impressive, there are many more lakes, and it is much less crowded. It’s also historically interesting with the via ferrata built during WW1 and other tunnels/caves from the war.

    And also, it’s much, much cheaper than the Swiss side. And with better food 😀

    1. Thanks Christine. Not been to the Dolomites yet, it’s on my (rather lengthy) bucket list but sounds great. Were there any websites you found particularly useful planning for it?

      1. I think the Cicerone books on the various Alta Vias are quite good and you can find sample pages and itineraries online.

        Also I used the tripadvisor forum which was super helpful. I have a very long thread on there called “Itinerary Help” in the Belluno Dolomites forum (I’m “halaleo” on tripadvisor) and got tons of great advice from other tripadvisor members there, especially Davide who lives in Milan and has been hiking in the Dolomites all his life.

  2. Jonty,

    Or should I call you John, which I thought was your name on the trail :^). It’s Nelson here. Yes we were dinner mates at Refuge de tre-la-Tete and Refuge Bianco, if you still remember.

    Thanks for your wonderful series covering TMB. I didn’t take that many wonderful pictures so yours really help me to impress my wife and kids how beautiful the trail is. More than view, another fascinating experience on TMB is the chance to meet interesting people around world. Yes, I am grateful to have a chance to meet you there.

    More than TMB, I also enjoy your coverage for other places around world. Please keep your wonderful posting alive. I will surely follow them up closely.

    Cheers,

    -Nelson

    1. Thank you Nelson, was great to spend time together on the TMB, and I’m glad that you’ve reached out and are enjoying the blog. We were very lucky with the weather, such a spectacular walk. Maybe see you on the trails again in the future! 🙂

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