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Friday, October 9, 2009

Intro to the Mont Blanc Tour

My husband and I planned a trekking trip in Europe. This trek was the Self-Guided Mont Blanc Tour (MBT). The MBT is a Mecca for hikers as it takes you hut to hut through awe-inspiring mountain landscapes of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. Each day offered breathtaking panoramic scenery, charming mountain huts, gothic cathedrals and the opportunity to enjoy delicious regional cuisine. At the pinnacle or one of many focal points of the hike is the Mont Blanc Massive which stands as the highest peak in Europe at an impressive height 15,771feet (4807m).

The MBT is an 11 day trek, totalling 105 miles (~170km) with a combined height and gain loss of about 33,000 feet. Although I really wanted the challenge of the full 11 days, I also wanted to keep some time open to travel a bit of the classic European cities I had yet to see like Paris, Venice and Rome. Doing the shorter 5 day trek also provided my husband and I with time to hang out in some outdoorsy mountain towns and soak up local mountain culture such as Courmayeur a small outdoorsy town in Valley d’Aosta in northern Italy and Chamonix, France home to some of the most adventurous outdoor gurus (mountaineers, skiers, base jumpers, heli-skiers etc…). The five day trek consisted of approximately 80km, averaging 16-18 km per day with elevation gains and losses.

While planning my trip I found many useful websites from those who had trekked the MBT before. I thought I would share my experiences and tips so that others may benefit or just for those that love to look at great mountain photos. I have broken down each stage and provide links, photos and tips in each blog to help trekkers plan their own trip. Happy trekking!
You can join a guided tour of the Mont Blanc Tour, in which all the routes, lodging and food is planned out for you, as well as have some of your baggage transported from hut to hut for you or do it all solo.

My husband and I love everything about planning our own treks – from studying the maps for the all the accents, descent and way points; to packing and carrying our own gear and food. We also enjoy to trek at our own pace, and make decisions about what route we will take for the day (main vs. alternative), as well as determine our own rest spots. Therefore we decided it would be more enjoyable for us to do a self-guided trek of the MBT. In order to plan our trek the first thing was to get the necessary resources.


Book: The Tour Mont Blanc, Complete Trekking Guide by Kev Reynolds (Cicerone)

Map: Carte De Randonees 1:50,000 Pays Du Mont-Blanc

We studied the routes and determined how long we wished to trek each day and the huts or hotels/hostels we wished to stay in. Again by choosing the self guided option we were not constrained to eat dinner at the hotel we lodged at and could venture into the little towns and find interesting delis, bars, cafes and restaurants, except while at mountain huts/refuges where all trekkers lodged and ate together (optional). Furthermore, the self guided tour allowed us to control what we ate and the budget of these meals (not that it was always more feasible).

This is the full 11 day circuit. If you do only 4-5 days you can trek from Chamonix to Courmayeur and the travel back directly to Chamonix via the Mont Blanc Tunnel or via the more alluring telepherique that goes from Courmayeur to Chamonix directly over the Mont Blanc.

Stages of the Trek
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1 comment:

Helene said...

That is such a great trek. My sister do also plan her own trek. She loves the planning. Can't wait to read more about it.

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