This trip was different than all of our other trips in a lot of ways. This hiking trip was just Jeff and his dad, his dads long time hiking buddy Fritz, and his brother and his new fiance. Jeff has been hiking all of his life but nothing quite to the extent of the Tour du Mont Blanc. They set out to France to hike around Mont Blanc and experience the beautiful terrain of the alps. To start, this is a well known hike that roughly covers 105 miles around Mont Blanc. The hike can be done different ways but normally you start in France, hike through Italy and Switzerland and then finish full circle back in France. Many people do this trip in 11-14 days, due to time restraints we did this in 7 days and did roughly 90 miles. The map below gives you an idea of the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) we started in Chamonix and worked our way counter clockwise.
We started our hike in Chamonix, France. This is one of the greatest places in the world. Simply put its a ski town on steroids with incredible food. The best part about Chamonix is the views of Mont Blanc and the glacier that appears to be flowing into town.
Day 1: Chamonix - Les Houches
The first day of hiking was an eye opener. The scale was daunting, the terrain was horrendously steep, and the views were incredible. Up on the mountain on the other side of Chamonix you have incredible views looking at Mont Blanc and Augille du Midi. This day started off great, as we descended over 4,500 feet it was our own feet that hurt by days end.
Day 2: Les Houches - Les Contamines
The second day of hiking was one of the best. We cruised through some very small remote villages with stunning views of the mountains and valleys. This day happened to be Bastille day (French Independence Day) which resulted in having a gourmet 6 course meal with foie gras and other decadent treats; not bad for hiking food!
Day 3: Les Contamines - Mountain Refuge Mottets
This picture is of Jeffs dad Jim. After we had already hiked 15 miles it was 6:30 pm when we all reached the bus stop. The bus would then take us the last three miles to our mountain refuge. The problem is that the last bus runs at 5:30pm. Time to start walking. At this point it is was just Jeff, his dad, and Fritz. Jeff was up around the next bend while Jim was waving €30 at the only car that crossed our path, luckily the rancher was into the deal and next thing Jeff saw was this. The rancher took the money and let his son drive us the last mile past their ranch to the refuge, he drove so fast we didnt think we would make it back alive but as we skid into the quite mountain refuge we were finally finished for the day.
This was the worst day. Day 3. 18 miles, 5,000 feet of climbing, and 5,000 feet of descending. When we finally arrived to this mountain refuge we ate what at the time seemed to be the best meal of our lives.
Day 4: Mountain Refuge Mottets - Courmayeur Italy
We were very lucky to have clear weather during this part of the hike. This whole area can get socked in by weather which leaves you with the same hike but without views.
Day 4 was a long day but our bodies were finally use to the punishment of the steep ups and downs. Luckily the views are beautiful enough to distract youself from your aching feet. This part of the hike is incredible as you are on the back side of Mont Blanc looking at the Italian side of the mountain.
Day 5: Courmayeur, Italy - Lac Champex, Switzerland
By this point in the trip we had made it over the hump of our hardest days. Our bodies had blisters but we felt good. This ended up being one of the shorter days which is great. Had another great dinner and got a little more rest than the previous days.
Day 6: Lac Champex, Switzerland - Trient, Switzerland
After a few mistakes in our directions we got a little later start than we would have liked but what are you gonna do. This was a rainy day which is to be expected when in the mountains. Treint was a very small town, no stores and no restaurants. Our hotel provided dinner but its safe to say I was hungry the entire time I was here.
Day 7: Trient, Switzerland - Chamonix, France
We did it! From left to right: Fritz, Chris, Angie, Jeff, King Jim
If you like hiking, and do not mind some really steep ascending/descending than this is a great trip. We did this entire loop in 7 days which resulted in a few days that were much longer than desirable. If we would have had 10+ days we would have been able to slow it down and enjoy the towns more. It was a great experience and being able to hike into three different countries really made it fun. Next up, the summit of Mont Blanc!