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
A year in Mexico City!

After one year in Mexico City, I decided it was time to write about my experience and maybe give some advice about the best things you can do downtown and outside the city. Mexicans are welcoming, helpful and will even treat you like family if you behave yourself. If you have a decent Spanish you might even get their great sense of humour. Mexico has many things to offer across its 31 states, and each state is totally different. Mexico is a country rich in history, tradition and culture. Its bright colours, delicious food and natural beauty will take your breath away.

Among the best things you can do in the city:

  • Palacio de Bellas Artes, if available I recommend the “Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández”
  • Walk along the Avenida 5 de Mayo to get to the Zócalo, the main square from central Mexico City
  • Visit the Museo del Templo Mayor,  it was one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City
  • Check out the National Museum of Anthropology
  • Visit the Chapultepec Castle and relax in the surrounding Chapultepec Park
  • Buy some great art, souvenirs and handcrafts at the Ciudadela Market
  • Go on top of the Torre Latinoamericana and admire the 360° view over the center of Mexico
  • Visit the house-museum of Frida Kahlo, dedicated to the life and work of this Mexican artist and her husband Diego Rivera

And outside the city:

  • Teotihuacan pyramids, ancient Mesoamerican city with the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and the Avenue of the Dead!
  • Go on a hike on Iztaccihuatl to admire the view on Popocatépetl active volcano, located in the state of Puebla
  • Plan a trip to Tamasopo, with Xilitla (Edward James garden), Puente de dios, Tamasopo cascades, Micos Waterfall, Media Luna Lake and the Rio Verde
  • A weekend trip to Guadalajara is something easy to plan from the city, very charming city considered the home of the mariachi music!
  • If you have even more time take a flight to Cancun and visit everything around: Chichen Itza, Playa del Carmen, Tulum (playa el Paraiso is wonderful), spend a day at Xcaret. For the more adventurous you can drive up to Merida in Yucatan.
  • Bernal, Queretaro de Arteaga
  • Grutas de Cacahuamilpa
  • Xochicalco, Morelos
  • Los Atlantes de Tula, Hidalgo
  • Taxco, Guerrero, the city is known for its silver, both with the mining of it and the crafting of it into jewelry
  • Tepoztlán, Morelos and Tepozteco Pyramid nearby
  • Tequesquitengo, Morelos
  • Tepotzotlán, Mexico

Of course you can’t go to Mexico without trying some of the best Mexican food!

  • Chiles en nogada, most patriotic dishes with the three colours of the Mexican flag
  • Enchiladas, rojas gratinadas, my favorite!
  • Tacos al pastor, Pozole, Chilaquiles, Tostadas, Elote, Tamales, Mole, Guacamole, etc
  • And a few places where you can eat downtown: Cafe Tacuba, El Cardenal, Azul Histórico, Zocalo Central Hotel
  • For the amateur of good cuisine, Pujol is a great gourmet restaurant to put on top of your list
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