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Mont Blanc TMB Circuit

Background

Our experience  on the TMB was beyond our wildest expectations, thanks largely to the thought and organisation that went into the trek. Our Chamonix  accommodation  (La Chaumiere)  was very comfortable and welcoming and although not 5 star, we had no hesitation in extending our stay there after completing our trek. We enjoyed all aspects of our trek, the track itself, the views, sounds and the people we met enroute. Our personal highlights included the pensions and hotels chosen, most particularly in Contamines, Courmeyer and Champex-Lac. We'd love to be able to return and spend more time in some of these places. Of course, our personal tour guide, Ismael, is without peer. He is so confident and competent we were reassured even in the more challenging parts of the track. He made us so relaxed that we are forever spoiled in our evaluation of tour leaders. Your recommendation of Annecy was greatly appreciated, we really enjoyed our stay there. It was a very interesting and relaxing culmination to our trip. Thanks again for enabling such a fantastic experience.  Judy and Brian Wignell (Australia)

Highlights

  • Trek one of the most spectacular classic hiking paths through the European Alps
  • Visit 3 countries in one trip (France, Italy and Switzerland)
  • Experience different cultures, food (cheeses) and wines as we trek into remote valleys
  • Stay in cozy family run hotels and refuges perched on the Mont Blanc massif
  • Trek quiet mountain passes, glacial valleys, dine in Europe's highest restaurant and more....

Overview

"I had the most awesome time. The whole trip was so much fun. the countryside was beautiful, trekking challenging, food divine, guide was gorgeous and people were lots of fun. Thank you so much for the experience". Carol Hill Australia. 

Breathtaking views, winding paths, green forests and rolling meadows are just a few of the majestic sights you will see on your 14-day trek. Of course, the big attraction is Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc, with its snowfields and hanging glaciers. Once you see these, you'll understand how the mountain got its name.

The TMB Circuit will take you through some intense valleys and mountain passes that cover all kinds of terrain. You'll hike for at least 5-6 hours per day, taking in the pristine mountain views at every turn. The trip encompasses a trek around the mountain that includes visiting three different countries: Italy, Switzerland and France. You will get a look at the very best each has to offer, while experiencing the trip of a lifetime and getting to know people from all over the world. Each day of your trek begins and ends with great views, great food and great people.

Mont Blanc's massif has seven valleys that flow into Italy, Switzerland and France, each with its own culture, architecture and landscapes. Together, along with your guide, we will explore each of these valleys, hiking up the ridges, and down into the valleys below. You will have plenty of time to explore the gems of nature, including the snow-capped peaks, green mountain meadows and beautiful glaciers. This trek will give you a new appreciation of nature and all it has to offer. The Mont Blanc circuit offers some of the most breathtaking views in the world. Perhaps that is why it remains one of the most popular treks among hikers and adventurers.

Your Mont-Blanc tour begins in Switzerland, where you will be transported by coach from Geneva to the lovely commune of Chamonix, one of the oldest Ski Resorts in France. From there we will have a couple of days to gather our bearings before we head off onto the TMB. Along the way the steep terrain will take you 1200 m up and down each day. You will have peace of mind, though, knowing that this is a supported trip. You will be accompanied by an experienced and accomplished tour guide. You will also be glad to know that all you have to carry with you throughout the day is a day pack. At the end of each day, your luggage and belongings will await you either at the hotel or refuge.

At the end of your 14-day trek around Mont-Blanc, you will be back at lovely Chamonix, where you will have some time to explore this unique and charming town. There are several activities to choose from, such as the Aguille de Midi cable car. Once you ascend to the top, you can enjoy a fabulous lunch in Europe's highest restaurant (3842 m) and once again take in the breathtaking views of Mont-Blanc. Or, you can choose to take the train to Mer de Glace, where you can walk inside a glacier. Chamonix also offers other activities like mountain biking and paragliding.

From Chamonix, you will be transferred back to Geneva by coach where you can start the next leg of your adventure or choose to return home. Once you experience our Tour du Mont Blanc, we know you will want to come back every year.

Itinerary

"It is hard to find the words that describe vistas you see while doing this trek, we walked into France, Italy and Switzerland, with steep, snow capped mountains towering over the valleys...And Ismael, our Guide, to say he is a wonderful guide and person is an understatement, his knowledge and passion....made us all see it through his eyes as if he had not done this many time before." Jane McKenzie Australia

Day 1: Transfer to Chamonix from Geneva. Check into hotel and free time.
Day 2: Free time in Chamonix and meet your guide for a briefing. (B,D)
Day 3: Trek from Les Houches to les Contamines 5hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Les Contamines to Refuge de Mottets 7 hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Refuge de Mottets across Col de la Seigne and into Italy to Refugio Monte Bianco 7hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 6: Refugio Monte Bianco to Courmayeur 6hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Courmayeur to la Vachey 6hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 8: La Vachey across the Col de Grand Ferret into Switzerland to La Fouly 6 hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 9: La Fouly trek to Champex 4.5hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 10: Champex across the Fenetre d'Arpette to Trient 5hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 11: Trient across Col de Balme back into France to Argentiere. (B,L,D)
Day 12: Argentiere to Chalet de la Flegere then down to Chamonix 7hrs. (B, L, D)
Day 13: Free time in Chamonix. (B)
Day 14: Depart Chamonix to Geneva. (B)

WHAT DO OUR MONT BLANC EXPEDITIONS INCLUDE?

SERVICES OF AN EXPERIENCED MOUNTAIN GUIDE

Our lead guides are fully trained, registered and licenced IFMGA members who work for us regularly. All mountain lovers, they have skied, climbed and hiked many of the routes around the area and spend their days off exploring more in the Mont Blanc range and the rest of the world.

SERVICES OF VEHICLES TO CARRY LUGGAGE AND EQUIPMENT

Throughout this expedition we will be fully supported by our support vehicle. This vehicle will take all our luggage from one overnight stay to the next so all we need to carry is our day pack.

ACCOMMODATION

This is one area that our trip DIFFERS from many others. You will have included in the trip 4 nights in Chamonix.

During the trek component many just stay in Refuges along the way. We have broken the trip up so that while we utilize the Refuges we will also have 5 nights in small hotels along the way.

The Refuges are wonderful rustic farms that have been converted to accommodate trekkers. The accommodation is more basic, sometimes communal and a great place to meet people from all over the world. We will be staying in double rooms where available and NO dorms.

The small hotels used are locally owned and run. They are very comfortable and are a great way to break up the trip.

MEALS WHILE ON EXPEDITION

No matter where we take you, food is an important component of any No Roads Expeditions trip. Europe is no exception.

All meals are outlined within the Itinerary. However, unless you have trekked the TMB before you will not know that there is food provided by the Refuges and then there is "food". It is a little hit and miss with some of them (breakfast can be a dried piece of toast, a condiment and a cup of coffee or tea).

With our fully supported trips, our driver will supply us with fresh Muesli and breads etc each day for breakfast. For lunches we will be provided with delicious cheeses, meats, salads and more, all supplemented by our support team or hot meals at selected Refuges along the way. Even a bottle of red or white will greet us at the end of the day. Now that is trekking in style!

Breakfast : Coffee, tea, yoghurt, cereal, fresh fruit, bread and conserves.

Lunch : Picnic style with breads, cheeses, meats etc. However on several days we will eat our lunches at wonderful Refuges along the way. These usually consist of local favourites.

Dinner : Generally consists of a first course soup, salad or charcuterie, a main course of meat with one or two vegetables or rice or pasta, a dessert course.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO WALK THE TMB?

The TMB is open between June and September each year. However there are a few factors in play that will determine when to go.

The first is the weather. Usually high passes can be snowed under even into mid to late June and the snow can return mid to late September. Thus mid June to Mid September to finish the trek.

The second factor is European and in particular French holidays. These start late July early August. The trail can get very busy and accommodation is difficult to find at these times.

Thus the best times to go are late June to the end of July and the first 2 weeks of September.

Routes

DAY 1: Arrive in Geneva and transfer to Chamonix from the airport. Check into hotel and meet other trekkers on the trip. Free time to yourself.

DAY 2: Chamonix
Today you will have time to explore Chamonix and its' surrounds. Maybe you can take a cable car up to les Brevent with amazing views of Mont Blanc or wander around the cobbled streets, taking a coffee in one of the street cafes or even a spot of last minute expedition shopping. Chamonix is a wonderful place to explore and a great place to relax before your expedition the following day. This evening we will go out for dinner and receive your briefing with our trek leader. (B,D)

DAY 3 : Trek from Les Houches to les Contamines  5hrs
We begin by driving a short distance down the Chamonix valley to Les Houches  and then taking the Bellevue cable car to the Col de Voza. This avoids a steep and relentless slog right at the beginning of the trek. Many climbers heading for Mont Blanc also use this cable car. We descend gently to cross the melt stream of the giant Bionnassy Glacier by a swaying bridge before climbing to the Col de Tricot (2120m) from where we begin to have magnificent views of the glacial chaos of the north face of the Domes de Miage. The path descends steeply at first to the homely Miage refuge in the Miage glacial valley. Here we will have a rest before heading up over another pass before heading down into the charming hamlet of les Contamines, where we spend the night. Les Contamines inhabits the valley floor with the spire of the old church reflecting the magnificent rocky mountains that surround. Les Contamines is the last major settlement before Courmayeur in Italy. Overnight in charming local hotel. (B, L, D)

DAY 4 : Les Contamines to Refuge de Mottet 8hrs
From les Contamines we pass the Baroque church of Notre Dame de la Gorge built in 1699. From there we head along the Chemin Romain which is an old Roman road, thus the name before crossing the river again over a Roman stone bridge. From there we continue to la Balme where there is a refuge and then up a steep section to Col du Bonhomme at 2329m. If the weather is good we will head north east on the Col des Fours variante. The variante is especially spectacular. We may also be able to summit Tete Nord de Fours at 2756m. From the summit we may even be able to see the Mattahorn but we will have unrivaled views of Mont Blanc. We will pass through la Ville de Glaciers where there is a wonderful Beuafort Cheese manufacturer. From here we continue on to Refuge de Mottet with amazing views of Glacier der Glaciers.(B, L, D)

DAY 5 : Refuge de Mottet across Col de la Seigne and into Italy to Refugio Monte Bianco 7hrs
Today we head up another 600 meter in altitude to Colle della Siegn which is the frontier between France and Italy. There is an information centre just below the Col on the Italian side with good information on the area, including a 3D map of the massif. Another long down to the valley below with the wonderful Refugio Elizabetha at one end, where you can get a hot meal or your first Italian coffee. Those with a keen eye will be able to pick out some of the most famous climbing routes on the mountain including the Peuterey Ridge and Brouillard Face.

From here, glaciers slowly pour off the massif, creating amazing valleys and wonderful waterfalls during the summer. If the weather is fine we will be able to take a high route towards our final destination of Refugio Monte Bianco, otherwise we will take the valley floor through lush grasslands and glacial moraine fields. From Refugio Monte Bianco, a wonderful patio overlooks Glacier de la Brenva (a great spot for an afternoon wine). (B, L, D)

DAY 6 : Refugio Monte Bianco to Courmayeur 6hrs
While this is a relatively short day, the long down from Refugio Maison Vielle can be very taxing. After a great breakfast, we climb back up to la Maison Vieille (1956m). Here we will have a chance for a morning tea. The inside of this place is amazing run by an eccentric local. Do ask the guardian to tell you the story of how the actress Penelope Cruz turned up in a snowstorm one night (strange but apparently true).

It is a long down through beautiful pine woods and along steep and narrow paths, but the reward at the end, Courmayeur more than makes up for it. 

Italy's answer to Chamonix, Courmayeur during winter is one of Italy's premier ski resorts. Charming cobbled streets open only to pedestrians create a relaxed village atmosphere with sophisticated bars, cafes and restaurants. The dark stone Mont Blanc massif with its snow peaks looms over Courmayeur forming an amazing backdrop to one of Europe's most beautiful towns.

Here we will have lunch and dinner Italian style. (B)

DAY 7Courmayeur to la Vachey  5.5hrs
After a relaxing breakfast we set off up a path from Courmayeur crossing a torrent then climbing steeply through thick larch forests (some of the most beautiful on the trail) on a good path to the refuge Bertone (1989m). This is a great place for a cappuccino. From there we ascend the Mont de la Saxe ridge, a wide grassy ridge dotted with wildflowers which has superb views of the Italian side of Mont Blanc and the South face of the Grandes Jorasses, before crossing the airy summits of la Tete Bernarda (2534m and la Tete de la Tronche 2584m).  After a couple of hours, we reach Refuge Bonatti before heading down to the valley floor to la Vachey. (B, L, D)

DAY 8: La Vachey to La Fouly 6hrs
This morning we head up to the Grand Col Ferret the frontier between Italy and Switzerland. Along the way we will stop at Refuge Elena for a morning tea or coffee. There are spectacular views towards Mont Dolent whose summit divides three countries, Italy, France and Switzerland. From there we head down to la Peule which is a great place for lunch. Here we will have a warm meal of local produce such as cheeses and breads (delicious). From here it is another 2 hours through wildflower meadows along sinuous streams to the village of La Fouly where we will check into the delightful Hotel Edelweiss (B, L, D)

DAY 9:  La Fouly to Champex 5.5hrs 
A small mountain road comes up the Swiss Val Ferret to La Fouly from Champex but we are able to walk on the opposite side of the valley on a path which meanders through pleasant pine forests. We pass through the village of Praz de Fort and 
to the well preserved village of Issert. We hike along the narrow street between old chalets and grain stores in their original condition.This day is notable for the beautiful old Alpine buildings that we pass.

The trail then branches off the main valley and climbs gradually around the hillside, traversing above the pretty village of Champex with its deep blue lake. (For those who wish to shorten this day it is possible to take a local bus from La Fouly to Champex.) We continue along the lake shore and finally climb 200 metres to the refuge at Relais d'Arpette (1627m). (B, L, D)

DAY 10:  Across the Fenetre d'Arpette to Trient 7hrs
One of the best mountain days on the whole trek takes us across the Fenetre d'Arpette (2665m). This high col lies at the head of the Val d'Arpette and the crossing is one of the finest variants on the TMB circuit. The ground is fairly rough but never technical and when we reach the pass we are rewarded with a fantastic view down to the Trient Glacier and across into the glacial bowl of the Plateau du Trient with the Aiguille du Tour (3544m) rising above 
(Crossing the plateau de Bovine is an easier or bad weather alternative). 

We descend steeply to the village of Trient where there is a small refuge. (B, L, D)

DAY 11 Relais Mont Blanc (Trient) to l'Auberge de la Boerne 6hrs
The last big climb of the TMB sees us ascending a little over 500 metres to reach the Col de Balme (2131m). This ancient pass forms the border between Switzerland and France and as we descend down towards the village of Le Tour on the French side a spectacular panorama opens up across the entire Mont Blanc range and we find ourselves gazing down the valley towards Chamonix itself.

We descend from the Col de Balme to the Col des Posettes past old transhumance chalets then climb up to hike along the impressive Arete des Posettes with it's views of Mont Blanc and the enormous glaciers of its Northern side. Our accommodation for the night is at the old Auberge de la Boerne(1380m), an authentic farmhouse that still even has the holes for the cows to place their heads in while being milked! (B, L, D)

Day 12Trek from Auberge de la Boerne to Chamonix 7hrs
From Argentiere we take the local bus up to the Col des Montets and ascend via Tre le Champ (1417m) and Cheserys into the Aiguilles Rouge on a spectacular high level path known as the Grand Balcon. In this elevated position we can gaze across the valley towards huge Argentiere Glacier and the tremendous Aiguille Verte (4122m). At Cheserys we can make a detour to Lac Blanc (2352m), a famously photogenic spot where the Chamonix Needles can sometimes be wonderfully reflected in its still waters. 
(B, L, D)

Day 13Chamonix
Today you have so many option, you may not know what to do with yourself. Relax in Chamonix and enjoy the rest of the day, we'll celebrate that night with a meal in the town. (B)

Day 14: Depart Chamonix to Geneva
Return transfer this morning from Chamonix to Geneva (either the airport or your hotel). (B)

IMPORTANT NOTE: THE TMB is a very popular walk and refuges sometimes get overbooked. This is just a guide to route & details may change and the actual refuges booked may vary from what is written here, dependent on client numbers, wishes and availability. This adjustment with refuges may alter the exact distance walked in a day so the above itinerary should be used as an indication to overnight stops/ distances.

Inclusions

  • Coach transfers both ways from Geneva to Chamonix 
  • 4 Nights in Chamonix hotel with 3 breakfasts & 2 dinners
  • Chamonix Qualified Mountain Leader 
  • Luggage transportation throughout 
  • Any fees and permits
  • 9 nights accommodation, 4 in refuges during the trek (based on twin share in refuges) and 5 nights hotels during the trek (twin share)
  • All meals as noted (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • Picnic lunches 
  • Dinners served in refuges and breakfasts supplemented by our delicious yoghurts, muesli and more..
  • Lift tickets at Belle Vue only.

If you are traveling alone and are not able to share accommodation, a Single Supplement of $650 will apply. This will only apply in hotels and not Refuges which are generally twin share.

Exclusions

  • International airfares
  • Insurance

Maps