TREK INFORMATION

Mont Blanc Treks Ltd

VITAL INFORMATION
FOR ALPS TREKKING

EXCITING ALPS TREKKING TOURS

Are you an adventure-lover looking to push your ability? If you are planning a solo holiday or are looking for an adventurous activity for your friends, we offer fantastic treks of the Mont Blanc, Walker’s Haute Route, Gran Paradiso and the Chamonix Valley. Allow yourself to be mesmerised by the stunning scenery of French, Italian and Swiss Alps. At Mont Blanc Treks, we grade our tours from 1 to 4 based on their level of difficulty. Our UIMLA guides have extensive experience in leading trekking tours across the Alps, and we will ensure you have an experience of a lifetime. Read about the different routes we orgnaise treks for and pick one that interests you the most. Contact our team for more information. 

TOUR DU MONT BLANC

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a challenging multi-day trek and walking in this stunning environment is second to none.
WHAT'S THE TREK CALLED?
Just to clarify, the Tour du Mont Blanc is known by many names that might confuse you into thinking people are taking about something different. You will often see it shortened to TMB whether it's on the web, in magazines or on the TMB path markers. Other terminology used is Mont Blanc Circuit or Mont Blanc Tour. Sometimes the name is written with a 'of' or ‘de’ in the middle for those who are not sure if Mont Blanc is masculine or feminine! Whichever way it's spelt or said, it doesn't detract from the fact that the Tour du Mont Blanc is a truly spectacular trek that will challenge, please and surprise you.
THE HISTORY
Since the 18th century, explorers, scientists and geologists have been drawn to this area of stunning beauty. The draw of Mont Blanc and all its neighbouring peaks, aiguilles, glaciers and valleys was too hard to resist. Many of the routes through the Alps and over the cols date back to the old trading routes of centuries past. The first circumnavigation of the Mont Blanc range was back in 1767 by Horace Benedict de Saussure, who set out with a group of friends and porters from Chamonix, on a scientific journey to gain further knowledge of Mont Blanc's geographical structure. During the Victorian age, the Tour du Mont Blanc became a must-do for the rich and famous, albeit on the back of a mule. Since then, the route has become one of the most popular long-distance treks in the European Alps.
THE TMB IN EUROPE
The starting point of Tour du Mont Blanc is Chamonix, which is conveniently located in France. The Mont Blanc circuit is situated in the Western Alps and within Haute Savoie and Savoie regions of France, Italian Aosta and the Swiss canton of Valais. The TMB start point is an hour’s distance from Geneva, and can also be accessed via other major airports from Lyon, Turin and Milan with slightly longer transfer times. The rail and road networks make travelling to Chamonix fairly straight forward and hassle free.
THE TMB STATISTICS
Tour du Mont Blanc is the most popular long-distance trek in Europe that covers a total distance of approximately 160km depending on which route is taken (some variants can be sorter or longer than the original section). The daily height gain on the Mont Blanc circuit can be substantial, and overall the accumulation over the 10 days is in the region of 9,000m. The TMB route takes you over 8 mountain cols and through 3 Alpine regions within France, Italy and Switzerland, circumnavigating the Mont Blanc. The scenery is second to none, from the broken rocky lunarscape of the Aiguille Rouges to the pasturelands of the Contamines valley; every day has something different to offer, yet there is one common factor - the constant backdrop of the Mont Blanc range.
THE ROUTE IN BRIEF
If you look at a map of the area, the Mont Blanc range forms a compact mass of complex mountain structures, passable via a circular route making use of its surrounding valleys and relatively low level cols or mountain passes. Traditionally, the Tour du Mont Blanc starts and finishes in the Chamonix Valley and moves anti-clockwise via Les Houches, Contamines, Chapieux and then over the Italian border at the Col du Seigne and Val Veny to Courmayeur and Val Ferret. From here, the TMB moves across the border into Switzerland and passes through the villages of Ferret, La Fouly, Praz de Fort, Champex Lac and Trient before returning to France and the Chamonix Valley via the Col du Balme. 
 
Over time, all manner of variants have been included. For example, Col de Tricot from Les Houches to Contamines or Fenetre d'Arpette from Chapex-Lac to Trient. Often these variants make the TMB more challenging with more height gain and descent and tougher terrain. Sometimes it’s worth including these because it makes the route even more impressive. The Mont Blanc circuit is often undertaken in reverse and can seem very different when done in the opposite direction. 
VILLAGES ON THE TMB
Chamonix, France: Steeped in history, Chamonix is the mountaineering and off-piste skiing capital of the world. It is truly a stunning place tucked in under Western Europe’s highest peak. For centuries explorers, scientists and mountaineers have travelled here to get up close to this impressive environment.
 
Les Houches, France: A much smaller and quieter village in the Chamonix Valley, and yet Les Houches shares the same stunning views of the Mont Blanc massif. It has good facilities, restaurants, bars, supermarkets and shops.
 
Les Contamines, France: Les Contamines is a charming little village on the westerly end of Mont Blanc. It has good facilities, restaurants, bars, supermarkets and shops, and offers great views of the Aiguille du Bionnassay and Domes du Miage.
 
Chapieux, France: Chapieux is a tiny hamlet on the southwesterly tip of the circuit and probably one of the most remote places on the tour. The valley and hamlet is totally cut off in winter. It offers 1 auberge, 1 little shop and a campsite.
 
Courmayeur, Italy: Charming, Italian-style Alpine town, Courmayeur is definitely on a par with Chamonix with great food, wine and coffee. All facilities are available here.
 
La Fouly, Switzerland: Small village in the Swiss Val Ferret, La Fouly has great views of Tour Noir and Mont Dolent. The village offers basic facilities, a shop and a few hotels with bars.
 
Champex-Lac, Switzerland: Champex-Lac is situated at the easterly end of the TMB. This is a typical picture postcard Swiss village with a beautiful lake. A lovely, relaxing enclave with a range of bars, restaurants and shops.
 
Trient, Switzerland: Trient is a small Swiss village with limited facilities. The village enjoys fabulous views of the Trient Glacier.
 
Argentiere, France: Situated at the easterly end of the Chamonix Valley, Argentiere is nested under the famous Grand Montets off-piste and extreme ski area. Argentiere shares the same history as the rest of the Chamonix Valley. It is a lively place in peak season and has a good range of restaurants, bars and shops.
HOW TOUGH IS THE TREK?
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a long-distance walk and the difficulty lies not necessarily in the terrain but the sustained amount of distance, height gain and descent you will face each day over a period of 10 days. There is no doubt that you will need to be fit and well prepared for the TMB before you arrive in Chamonix.
 
Good and regular hill walking experience wherever you live in the world will stand you in good stead. We grade our treks from 1 to 4. Each trek receives a grade depending on the difficulty of terrain and number of days of sustained trekking. We have graded the full TMB grade 3 and the half stage tours grade 2.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?
Anyone with walking experience knows that weather in the mountains can be varied and even in summer the temperatures in the mountains can get very cold. On the Tour du Mont Blanc, you can experience all seasons in one day. The temperatures can reach 30 degrees or go as low as 0. Even when the weather is stable, the variation of temperatures from the valley to the cols can be significantly different. This is why we ask you to take particular notice of the kit and equipment needed for each trek.

WALKER’S HAUTE ROUTE

Walkers Haute Route is a multi-day trek from Chamonix to Zermatt. 
WHICH HAUTE ROUTE?
Just to clarify, the Walker’s Haute Route is different from the Winter Haute Route and takes a slightly different route from Chamonix to Zermatt. The Walker’s Haute Route takes in high mountain cols and skirts the glaciers rather than crossing them. Whereas the Haute Route in winter takes you over glacial terrain and can be done in summer with full mountaineering equipment.
THE HISTORY
The original Haute Route or High Level Route was developed as a summer mountaineering route by the Alpine Club over a 150 years ago following a route from Chamonix to Zermatt via glacial passes through the Pennine Alps. Scottish scientist, glaciologist and mountaineer James David Forbes completed an important section when crossing the Col d'Herens, Col de Fenetre and Col du Mont Collon above Arolla. Other mountaineers such as Alfred Wills, William Mathews and Francis Fox-Tucket established the Haute Route in 1861. In 1911, the route was successfully completed as a winter ski touring route by Roget, Kurz and Murisier. Since then, Walker’s Haute Route or the Green Haute Route has been adapted following a lower level, making the route more accessible for long-distance summer trekking.
THE WALKER’S HAUTE ROUTE IN EUROPE
The Walker’s Haute Route, starting point of Chamonix, is conveniently located within France and Europe. The route from Chamonix to Zermatt is situated in the Western Pennine Alps and within the Haute Savoie region of France and the Swiss canton of Valais. The Walker’s Haute Route start point can be easily accessed from Geneva and via other major airports in Lyon, Turin and Milan with slightly longer transfer times. The rail and road networks make travelling to Chamonix fairly straight forward and hassle free.
WALKER’S HAUTE ROUTE STATISTICS
The Walker’s Haute Route is fast becoming a very popular long-distance trek in Europe that covers a total distance of approximately 180km depending on which route is taken (some variants can be sorter or longer than the original section). The daily height gain on the Walker’s Haute Route is substantial and the overall accumulation over 12 days is in the region of 12,000m. The Walker’s Haute Route trek takes you over 11 mountain cols and through 2 Alpine regions within France and Switzerland on a linear traverse from Chamonix to Zermatt. The stunning scenery amazes and surprises throughout, from the idyllic Alpine villages to the broken rocky lunarscape of the Grand Desert. Every day has something different. The Walker’s Haute Route is most definitely a tougher trek than the Tour Du Mont Blanc for may reasons, height gained and descended, type of terrain, duration of sustained trekking to mention but a few. All in all, the Walker’s Haute Route it is truly a great challenge not to be taken lightly.
THE ROUTE IN BRIEF
If you look at a map of the region, it looks unclear how you would possibly get from Chamonix to Zermatt easily. The Walker’s Haute Route works its way through a complex mass of mountains passable only via high mountain cols and connecting valleys. Traditionally, the Walker’s Haute Route starts in the Chamonix Valley and moves south eastwards via Argentiere and then over the French-Swiss border to Trient, and follows the same route as the Tour du Mont Blanc as far as Champex-Lac.
 
Here, the route splits and the Haute Route heads away from the Mont Blanc massif towards Chable and once up and above Verbier, the route stays high for two days passing numerous cols before descending to Arolla. From thereon, the route moves from valley to col to valley on a daily basis, passing through the Valasian villages of Les Hauderes, Zinal and Gruben before finally arriving in the Matterhorn Valley. 
 
There are a number of variants passing over different cols on some days, including the adaptation of the Europaweg (a high level route into Zermatt) rather than staying in the valley bottom. The Walker’s Haute Route is often undertaken in reverse and can seem very different when done in the opposite direction.
WALKER’S HAUTE ROUTE IN BRIEF
At Mont Blanc Treks, we use the traditional Walker’s Haute Route, completing all sections and leaving nothing out. However, we do make use of the odd cable cars and shuttle buses to cut out the bits of road walking.
HOW TOUGH IS THE TREK?
The Walker’s Haute Route is a long-distance walk and the difficulty lies in the terrain and the sustained amount of distance, height gain and descent you will face each day over a period of 12 days. You need to be very fit and well prepared for the Walker’s Haute Route before you arrive in Chamonix. Depending on the difficulty of terrain and number of days of sustained trekking, we have graded the Haute Route as grade 4.

SNOWSHOEING

Are you looking to try a fun winter adventure sport?
WHAT IS SNOWSHOEING?
For those unfamiliar with snowshoeing, the sport originated over 6000 years ago in Central Asia. People would use modified slabs of wood to help them travel on snowy ground. After the migration of Asians to Northern America, the snowshoe evolved into a racket wooded frame with hide strapping spreading the person’s weight to prevent sinking, which provided an essential piece of kit for hunters, traders and travellers in the snowy regions of the world.
 
Since the 1970’s, snowshoeing has become a popular winter sport giving people the opportunity to trek in winter conditions and experience the truly stunning environment away from the crowds of skiers and snowboarders on piste.
WHY TRY SNOWSHOEING?
  • It’s a great way to maintain or improve fitness. Walking in snow on snowshoes is a great cardiovascular workout which can burn up to 600 calories per hour even on easy trails.
  • It’s a fun way to spend your day in the mountains during winter
  • It gets you away from the crowded ski resorts into a quiet and tranquil environment
  • It gives you the opportunity to see winter flora and fauna whilst trekking through a magical environment off the beaten track

WHO GOES SNOWSHOEING?
Basically anyone with who enjoys being in the mountains during winter, any age, any level of fitness and experience. There are many trails to suit all levels of experience and fitness, from easy beginners routes to harder more challenging terrain.
WHERE AND WHEN TO GO SNOWSHOEING?
You can snowshoe pretty much anywhere in the world as long as you have snow. Snowshoeing is a very popular winter sport in North America and Canada, and is getting popular in the European Alps. Many resorts have marked snowshoe trails of various lengths, graded in difficulty from beginners to experienced individuals. Information on snowshoe trails can be obtained normally from the tourist information office in each resort.
HOW TO SNOWSHOE?
Very simple really. It’s pretty much just like walking using poles. The only thing to get used to is your extra large feet and you will have to pay extra attention to your balance. The snowshoe is fitted to your boots and is hinged at the ball of your foot. The snowshoe can be either used in a locked position (can be better for downhill to avoid tripping up by an over extended snowshoe) or unlocked for flat or slightly undulating terrain. The snowshoe also has a heel raiser at the back for use when going up hill.
KIT NEEDED
Depending on the temperature and time of winter season, the kit you require is very much like when skiing. You will need layers with a waterproof outer layer, gloves and hat, day rucksack to put your layers in if you get too hot, walking poles with snow baskets, map or trail guide and of course snowshoes. There are many different types of snowshoes that can be either hired or bought in resort and prices range from 10 euros per day to rent to between 90- 150 euros to buy. Being based in the European Alps, we recommend the French manufactured TSL snowshoes. Other manufacturers predominant in Northern America are MSL, Tubbs, Atlas and Redfeather.
SNOWSHOE SAFETY
There is a temptation to wander off the unmarked trails in search of new terrain and un-touched powder, however care needs to be taken as even though the terrain seems benign, it can pose great avalanche risks. Snowshoe trails are managed by the resort and use safe terrain, and if you are not particularly experienced, it’s worth sticking to these.
 
If you fancy getting well off the beaten track, make sure you have a UIMLA guide with you, who will have complete knowledge of the area and know where to go in order to avoid potential terrain traps and avalanche-prone areas. All our treks are lead by a qualified UIMLA International Mountain Leader.

Help and advice from mountain professionals, contact us for further information.

UK: 
+44 (0)161 408 1222
USA: 
+1 303 800 5866
Book Your Trek
FRANCE: 
+33 (0)7 81 58 69 03
AUSTRALIA: 
+61 75660 6258
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