Can I hike TMB alone?
TMB is a well-marked and well-maintained hiking trip. The classic Hiking GR trail is never technical yet designed for experienced hikers who are familiar with topographic map reading, who are skilled in terrain orientation, necessary in bad weather conditions.
What is the best period to hike TMB?
The best period goes from mid-June to mid- September, in other words during mountain hut opening season. Remaining snowfields can make passages over the great passes delicate until early July. During the mid-July to mid- August holiday period, you can expect crowds on trails and in huts and it may be useful to know that most guided groups start on a Saturday or a Sunday. TMB is less popular before mid-June and in September. We recommend to start the tour later during the week or during shoulder seasons.
I might not have time to complete my Tour du Mont-Blanc.
Around ten days are necessary to hike the tour entirely. However, one can adapt tour length according to the level of fitness and free time potentials. It is not uncommon to hike half-way around the first year, and plan the other half the following season: the leg from Les Houches to Courmayeur, and then Courmayeur to Les Houches. Another option consists in riding public buses in the low valley sections: Val Vény and Val Ferret in Italy- Val Ferret in Switzerland. You may also choose different start and finish towns along the way.
How can I book the huts?
Hikers planning the TMB must book each refuge. Booking is possible for most of them on line via the website montourdumontblanc.com. We strongly recommend to book ahead of time. Reservations start as early as spring (April- May). Hut keepers can be joined outside hut opening season by phone or by email. During opening season, hikers can call the hut directly : for better results, it is advised to avoid the very busy times of day, such as meal hours. Once at the hut, hut keepers may not have access to internet, and will not be able to receive email messages.
In case of late arrival at the refuge it’s recommended to inform the keeper (for security). It’s essential to inform the keeper in case of cancellation.
Once in Chamonix, where can I park my car?
You can either park near the lift in Les Houches, or use pay parking in Chamonix (weekly rates). On the starting day, hikers can use public transportation to get to Les Houches.
How can I get to Chamonix in case of an emergency?
Public transportation networks in TMB alpine valleys (les Contamines – les Chapieux – Coumayeur – Ferret - la Fouly – Orsières – Champex) are fully operational. They provide regular transportation hours and make reaching Chamonix easy. A bus also runs from Col de la Forclaz to the Chatelard train station at the Swiss-French border. Hikers can ride the train to the Chamonix valley from there.
I have all the necessary documentation to start planning my TMB. How should I proceed to select my tour legs and stop-overs?
With a large choice of TMB related websites and blogs, internet is a very helpful information resource. Guide-free “en liberté” route descriptions are available from several trekking companies, providing a road-book, accommodation bookings service for huts, and luggage transportation.
Can I bring my dog along TMB?
Some sections of the TMB GR trail are located inside natural preserved areas: the first one is “Réserve Naturelle des Contamines”, in which dogs are allowed on a leash only. But dogs are not allowed in both “Réserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges “and Réserve Naturelle de Carlaveyron”. On trails in Italy and Switzerland, the presence of dogs is accepted, if on a leash. Dog owners must carry along their animal’s ID and vaccination record.
Do Swiss huts accept payments in Euros?
They do, except that currency rate may affect prices. Huts keepers follow and apply daily rates. Some huts accept credit cards.
Do I need a sleeping bag?
Pillows, blankets/comforters are available in huts. All huts these days require to bring an individual sleep-sheet.
I do not need assistance, yet do not wish to carry a heavy pack.
Luggage can be transported from hut to hut by taxi companies (for these which are reachable by car).
Where can I refill on food and trail snacks?
It is easy to shop for food when hiking across alpine valley towns (Contamines, Chapieux, Courmayeur, la Fouly, Praz de Fort, Champex, Trient, Vallorcine). In addition, the majority of huts sells freshly prepared lunch bags (please book the night before).
What numbers should I call in case of an emergency?
From France : 112 / From Switzerland - Wallis : 144 / From Italy – Aosta valley : 112
How old must children be to hike TMB?
No matter the child’s physical fitness and strength level, the tour length is not adapted to children younger than 8-10 years-old. Stamina grows significantly around ten years old, which would therefore seem like a reasonable age to hike TMB. Some caution is required when adapting the difficulty and length of each leg. A child should not hike for more than 6 hours daily; accompanying adults should ensure that the child eats and drinks regularly, in order to minimize vertical gain effort and avoid sudden low sugar disorder. Healthy children, aged 12 and over, are physically stronger, and are more able to adapt to daily consecutive efforts. In spite of their ability to recuperate faster, their motivation tends to decrease as years go by.
What clockwise direction do you recommend to hike TMB?
It is more commonly described counter-clockwise: France – Italy – Switzerland. However, one is entirely free to choose the direction one wishes to do Tour du Mont-Blanc. On a clockwise direction you wouldn’t have to pass many people on the trail, as they would be going the opposite direction. However, consider recalculating all your hiking times, in reverse vertical gain-loss order.