Michael, Alex, Mark and I set out to walk the TMB – a 170km long route circumnavigating Mont Blanc in the Alps with around 10,000m of ascent and descent over 10 days.
We were at the very beginning of the season, staying in several refuges the day they opened for the first time in the year. Being so early, the trail was relatively quiet but we still met several others doing the same trip or some portion of it.
We stayed in a combination of B&Bs, hotels and refuge accomodation – the refuges including the absolutely delightful Refugio Bonatti (nicer than many hotels I’ve stayed in) and the Refugio Elisabetta. The later would have probably been pretty nice except that… Michael lept to take the first shower which he managed… just! After that no more running water in the entire refuge for the duration of our stay (one 15cmx15cm wipe was my entire showering experience that night!)
- Sliding down the snow slopes in the passes (see video below)
- Eating as much as we liked (and then some) for 10 days
- Some challenging river crossings (I removed boots for just 1 to wade)
- in 10 days of walking only 2 hours of rain and many glorious sunny days
- The variety of views as we changed altitude and country (France -> Italy -> Switzerland -> France)
Sadly, Alex didn’t make it the whole way round due to a lot of knee pain. I believe that descending presents a bigger challenge to those not used to this kind of walking for exactly this reason. Alex was the only one who’d not done a long distance trail before (though we all felt knee pain during the first few days) so I guess the moral of the story is – the TMB probably isn’t an ideal first multi day hike. Nonetheless hopefully he’ll have got a taste of the truly stunning views and sense of achievement and will keep up the hiking!
Here are a selection of photos from the trip:
… and a 2 minute video, giving a small glimpse into what it was like on our Tour du Mont Blanc. I think Mark’s line “STOP taking pictures and walk… oh God” will be one I’ll remember for some time!
In summary – the views were stunning, the walking challenging but satisfying and the company fantastic so all in all it was certainly the best walking trip I’ve ever been on and right up there in the top handful of trips of any kind. Highly recommended once you have 1 or 2 slightly flatter long distance walking trails under your belt!