Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB): Facts, Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB): Facts, Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost

The Tour du Mont Blanc – sometimes abbreviated as TMB – is a mountain adventure worth embarking yourself on for several reasons. To begin with, not many hiking routes in the world take you across 3 different countries in less than 10 days. Next, this hiking route also offers some of the most iconic, breathtaking views across the Alps and the beautiful Mont Blanc range. Some even refer to it as the ultimate mountain hike. Trust us: you really don’t want to miss this one! 

This popular hiking program is available in different formats, mainly differing in the number of days and the routes. Some of them involve a total distance of over 160 km. Get ready to hike long, long distances, while experiencing the excitingly changing landscapes on the way. From valleys to glaciers, forests to snowy areas. You will see the diversity of Mont Blanc area in all its splendor, including beautiful flora and fauna.

In this article we break down, one by one, the main things you’ll need to know when considering hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TBC). Read on and find out what type program is the perfect one for you…

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB): Facts, Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost
Lac Blanc, one of the most famous stops in TMB. Photo credit: Emma Jack.

Where to travel first

To hike the Tour du Mont Blanc you need to travel to the Alps, specifically either France or Switzerland. Different routes start off at different locations. The following are the most common ones:

– Les Houches, a small village close to Chamonix (France)

– Chamonix (France)

– Courmayeur (France)

– Les Contamines Montjoie (near Geneva, Switzerland)

If you need accommodation in Chamonix, here are some places recommended by local mountain guides Isabelle and Robin:

When to go

The best time of the year for this program is the European summer: from June to September. Some programs are also available in October.

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB): Facts, Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost
Mont Blanc from the Col de Balme. Photo credit: Emma Jack.

Routes and Duration

The longer Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) usually takes up between 8 and 10 days and takes you across around 170 km. These programs usually start at Les Houches (close to Chamonix, France) or at Chamonix.

Some of the locations longer programs cover include:

– Trient

– Courmayeur

– Vallee des Glaciers

– Val Veny

You will go across 3 different countries: France, Switzerland and Italy. The beauty that this area of the Alps makes possible.

Check out:

Classic Tour du Mont Blanc in 10 days with UIMLA-certified guide Emma Jack (see info for the 5-day program she offers below).

Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) 10-day hiking tour with Ella Alpiger.

8-day Tour du Mont Blanc traversing 3 countries with Jérôme Ballet.

There are also shorter programs of between 2 and 5 days. They either cover much less territory, or are meant for advanced hikers.

Check out:

Mont Blanc 5-day hiking tour (TMB) with UIMLA-certified guide Anja.

Tour of Mont Blanc in 5 days with UIMLA-certified guide Emma Jack (see info for the 10-day program she offers above).

Click here for many more hiking options in this area.

Note for Advanced hikers:

Advanced programs can include the ascent to one of the super famous +4000 peaks in this area, like Gran Paradiso, Monte Rosa or Mont Blanc. If this is something you would like to experience, check out this 6-day Tour du Mont Blanc for advanced climbers with IFMGA-certified Marco Tamponi.

 

Beautiful alpine flowers cover the landscape along the trail. Photo credit: Patricia Pijoan.

First-hand experiences: Have a look at the adventure of a group of Argentinean friends. Patricia Pijoan gathered eight close friends to go on an unforgettable experience along the Tour du Mont Blanc. Read “Tour du Mont Blanc: 9 girlfriends take on one of the world’s great hikes”.

Preparation

To go on this program, you will need a good fitness level. So be sure you are in good and healthy shape prior to the start of your program. Previous hiking experience is of course very helpful.

Weather conditions

As we mentioned above, the time of the year to go hiking in the Mont Blanc area is summer. This is when the temperatures are friendlier and the most enjoyable. Still, in some areas you can encounter some snow patches, particularly as you hike higher.

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB): Facts, Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost
The impressive Mont Blanc and the Lac des Cheserys. Photo credit: Emma Jack.

Also, weather conditions tend to change rapidly and sometimes unexpectedly. This is why as part of your equipment (see below) you need to be prepared for all sorts of conditions from a beautiful sunny morning, to a rainy afternoon and a chillier night. Be prepared!

Where to spend the night

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is typically a hut-to-hut program. Mountain huts (or ‘Refugio’) in this area are usually well-equipped, and attract many, many hikers each summer. Some of the huts usually included in the itinerary are the Bonatti hut (with particularly good Italian food) and the Refugio Elisabetta Soldini.

Parts of the itinerary can include staying at hotels or lodges in small mountain villages, such as La Fouly, Trient or Champex.

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB): Facts, Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost
Some snow patches on the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit. Photo credit: Anja.

Difficulty and experience level required

While not particularly challenging from a technical perspective, this program requires an Intermediate to Advanced level of experience (depending on the route) and a very good fitness level.

This is because it involves a very high cumulative ascent and descent (of approximately 9000 m in the case of the 10-day program). It also requires being able to surpass some glaciers, long ascents and descents, valleys and mountain passes. The terrain is quite diverse as well.

Cost

The total cost of this hike will depend on the specific route you choose, and the number of people in your group. Some guides will take groups of up to 2 hikers (advanced level), other guides take larger groups of up to 8 hikers or even 10 hikers.

Prices also vary depending on whether they include accommodation, meals and transportation. In general terms, the hike to Tour du Mont Blanc can cost from 650 or 1250 eruos, to 4670 euros. Note that there are several options in between!

Check out all the different options at Explore-Share to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc with a guide.

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB): Facts, Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost
Green fields and valleys are part of the variety of landscapes the Tour du Mont Blanc offers. Photo credit: Anja.

Equipment

Once again, this will depend on the specific route and particularly its duration. But in general terms, you will need:

– Light hiking gloves

– Sunglasses, cap or hat; and sunscreen and lip balm

– One insulation layer (to keep you warm!)

– Hiking pants

– Rain cover

– Good, strong and waterproof hiking boots

– Swimwear

Check with your certified guide for a complete list of equipment prior to your trip.

Ready for the iconic experience of your lifetime? The Tour du Mont Blanc hike awaits. Next step: check your calendar, choose a certified mountain guide and program and… just go there!