Solo-hiking Tour du Mont Blanc

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc was a great adventure! Not only for the beautiful alpine views but for the great people I met along the way. With a total of 170 km and about 10 kilometres of ascent/descent, it is better to be correctly prepared and equipped. This tour is usually done in 8 to 12 days between June and September.

Preparation & equipment

  • Buy a guide with the minimum info to understand the tour and its signage. Most people on the tour had this one for French speakers: TopoGuides – Tour du Mont Blanc – FFRandonnée and this one for English speakers Tour of mont Blanc – Kev Reynolds
  • Buy a map, IGN maps are not needed if you have a guide and a GPS you can trust in term of accuracy in the mountains and battery
  • Make a list of the required gear and pack your bag with the minimum. Remember that you will have water and food in addition. This list was the best I found.
  • Prepare and decide your route in advance, make sure you have the alternative routes available if you decide to take any variant from the official TMB trail or if the weather doesn’t allow you to take the variant for example.
  • I traced my route on View Ranger using the web version, exported it in gpx file and imported it into Gaia GPS which has one of the clearest design on mobile and was very easy to follow in the fog! All my gpx files are available here: [Download GPX TMB routes]
  • Forget about weather apps on your phone, only this website is used by locals and proved to have accurate weather reports: http://chamonix-meteo.com/

Planning

  • Planning should be done carefully based on the physical challenge you want to experience:
    • Less than 10 days will be a though challenge, but you can take the bus or use chair lifts to shorten the trek, it can be a good option if you are limited on time
    • 10 days should be good and let time for variants as I did
    • More than 10 days will be comfortable and let time to do extra trails
Day Itinerary Night/Refuge Route
Departure Home ➤ Les Houches Chalet Les Méandres (ex Tupilak)
Day 1 Les Houches ➤ Les Contamines (Variant Tricot) Gîte le Pontet  VR
Day 2 Les Contamines ➤ Refuge Croix du Bonhomme Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme  VR
Day 3 Refuge Croix du Bonhomme ➤ Rifugio Elisabetta (Variant Col des Fours) Rifugio Elisabetta  VR
Day 4 Rifugio Elisabetta ➤ Rifugio Bertone Rifugio Bertone  VR
Day 5 Rifugio Bertone ➤ Rifugio Elena (Variant Bernada) Rifugio Elena  VR
Day 6 Rifugio Elena ➤ La Fouly Maya Joie  VR
Day 7 La Fouly ➤ Champex Auberge Gîte Bon Abri  VR
Day 8 Champex ➤ Trient (Variant Arpette) Auberge Mont blanc  VR
Day 9 Trient ➤ Tre le Champ Gite le moulin  VR
Day 10 Tre le Champ ➤ Chamonix (Variant Lac Blanc) Hotel  VR
Return Chamonix ➤ Les Houches  ➤ Home All GPX files

Booking if sleeping in refuges

  • Booking can be easy if you go through an agency, many people get the best rooms in refuges by using an agency
  • Booking can be done on http://www.montourdumontblanc.com/
  • Booking can also be done by phone, make sure you confirm a second time the reservation a week before with the refuge
Hiking the canyons!

The US national parks have many canyons that offer spectacular views and amazing hikes. They offer a wide range of ways to experience them. During 4-5 days we decided to explore some of the most famous canyons: The Grand Canyon (Arizona), Angels landing (Zion, Utah), Narrows (Zion, Utah) and Bryce Canyon (Utah).

Angels Landing, Zion, Utah

Itinerary:

Day 1:

  • 6am SFO-LAS, pick up rental car
  • 8:30am Drive to Zion (3 hours)
  • Pick up Narrows Permit from Visitor Center
  • Day hike (Angel’s Landing)
  • 4:30-7:30:  Pick up rental gear at Zion Adventure Co (36 Lion Blvd, Springdale UT)

Day 2:

  • Drive to Zion Adventure Co by 6:20
  • 6:30 shuttle departure
  • Hike the Narrows
Narrows, Zion, Utah

 

 

 

Day 3:

  • Check Sunrise time at Zion
  • Drive to Bryce Canyon (1.5 hours)
  • Day Hike and sunset at Bryce (Peekaboo or Fairyland loop)
  • Overnight at Bryce.

Day 4:

  • Check Sunrise time in Bryce Canyon
  • 11am drive towards North Rim (3 hours)
  • 5:40pm: Sunset at Cape Royal
  • 6pm: drive back
  • 11:30pm: back to LAS, return car
  • Overnight at LAS

Day 5:

  • Return to SFO!

 

Bryce Canyon, Utah

 

Recommended gear list:

  • Zion Park Newspaper
  • Zion Narrows Map
  • Dry pants packages reserved from Zion Adventure Co:
    • Neoprene Socks
    • Water boots/shoes
    • Walking stick
    • Dry pants
  • Headlamp / Flashlight
  • Clothing for for 0-5c weather (hat, gloves, etc)
  • Clothing for 10-15c weather (not cotton)
  • Swim suit
  • Food: trail mix, water bottle, bars, etc
Day hike Half Dome, Yosemite

Half Dome is a granite dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California. It is a well-known rock formation in the park, named for its distinct shape. One side is a sheer face while the other three sides are smooth and round, making it appear like a dome cut in half. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft (1,444 m) above the valley floor.

My friend Milton and I, decided to hike to the top and come back down in one day. It is pretty easy to plan your hiking trip, except that you will need a permit to access the final section of cables that leads to the top.

Approximately 50 permits are available each day by lottery during the hiking season. The daily lotteries have an application period two days prior to the hiking date with a notification late that night. So, to hike on Saturday, you would apply on Thursday and receive in theory an email notification of results late on Thursday night, but it was actually on Friday for us.

Many lodging options are available to spend the night before the long day hike (10 to 12 hours). You might want to start hiking early, so prefer a place inside the park or outside close to the park. Make sure you have the permit before booking anything! We crossed paths with many people who started hiking early in the night to enjoy the sunrise and avoid noonday heat and traffic at the cables (often crowded in the summer). Check the weather forecast before your hike up Half Dome: if there is any predicted chance of rain or thunderstorms, or if storm clouds are observed in the vicinity of Half Dome or the nearby peaks of the Sierra Crest, the safest course of action is to not proceed past the permit checkpoint, at the base of Sub Dome.

Wear the proper ankle high boots, have fun, be safe, and carry plenty of water!