Tour du Mont Blanc
What makes the Tour du Mont Blanc one of the world's classic hikes? It's the
perfect mix of awe-inspiring mountain views and the vibrant influence of three
distinct European cultures -- French, Swiss and Italian. Hiking nearly 100 miles
with only a light pack as we circumnavigate the sparkling glaciers of Mont Blanc
(15,771'), Western Europe's highest peak, we'll cross borders by foot and
experience challenging but spectacular hiking in the Alps. Our expert guides
lead us from village to village along high trails into a photographer's dream
landscape. Our cultural delights range from the lovely medieval city of
Courmayeur, Italy to the French resort town of Chamonix and to quaint alpine
villages in Switzerland where we'll enjoy delicious and hearty meals consisting
of fresh ingredients including locally produced breads and cheeses. Our lodging
includes one night in a mountain refuge and the rest in comfortable hotels and auberges.
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Tour du Mont Blanc Itinerary:
Day 1 Settle in, relax and explore delightful Chamonix, a world-famous resort town nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc.
Day 2 We begin our hike on the Grand Balcon with magnificent views of the rocky spires and glaciers draping the Mont Blanc massif.
Day 3 Hike below the tumbling Bionnassay Glacier to the Col du Tricot and to Les Contamines, a town proud of its gastronomical heritage.
Day 4 Hike on an old Roman road to Col du Bonhomme. Relax in grassy meadows before descending to the remote hamlet of Les Chapieux.
Day 5 View the dramatic south face of Mont Blanc as we hike across the border into Italy. Enjoy the lovely Italian resort town of Courmayeur.
Day 6 A balcony trail leads us to the Rifugio Bonatti (6,745’). Magnificent views of the Italian side of Mont Blanc await us.
Day 7 Alpine meadows, rushing streams and views of the Val Veny are our backdrop en route to Grand Col Ferret, the border with Switzerland.
Day 8 Walk through forests, fields of wildflowers and quaint Swiss villages to Champex, set on pretty blue lake.
Day 9 Hike along the “Bovine Route” that herders once used to guide stock across the mountains. Enjoy views over the lovely Rhone Valley.
Day 10 Hike to Col de Balme, the border with France. The views to Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley are absolutely phenomenal!
Day 11 We close the loop on the Grand Balcon, hiking to Lac des Chérsey with the glaciers and peaks of the entire Mont Blanc range in view.
Day 12 Take a historic train up to the Mer de Glace, one of the largest glaciers in the Alps, and hike high above the Chamonix Valley.
Day 13 Say farewell to the Alps and return to Geneva for onward travel.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including weather and terrain conditions. The final route is always left up to the discretion of the trip leader in the field.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
No single rooms are available for request on this adventure. All group members will be automatically paired with a suitable roommate when possible. If a roommate cannot be found, you will be asked to pay the forced single supplement fee.
All lodging including hotels (double occupancy), auberges (double occupancy) and one night in a mountain refuge (co-ed dormitory style); meals as noted in the daily itinerary; all land transportation and luggage transfer; cable car rides as noted; skilled English-speaking guides; group airport transfers.
Airfare to Geneva; 1 lunch and 4 dinners; Aiguille du Midi cable car; excess baggage charges, airport taxes (if any); trip cancellation insurance; alcoholic beverages; laundry; optional gratuities to your guides and items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated as Moderate Plus [3-4] and consists of a combination of moderate and more vigorous hiking days. Trip members should be strong, experienced hikers in excellent physical condition and capable of hiking 5-7 hours a day (8-14 miles) on trails with steep ascents and descents. Trails are often rocky and daily elevation gains and losses can exceed 3,000 feet. We hike about 100 miles during the course of the adventure, much of which falls between 6,000-9,000' of elevation. We strongly recommend beginning a conditioning regimen at least 3-4 months prior to departure that includes hiking and/or walking/running in order to best prepare for the cardiovascular component of this trip. The better shape you're in when you arrive in Chamonix, the more you will enjoy all this amazing itinerary has to offer!
Summer daytime temperatures along our route range from 60 to 75°F. Evening temperatures generally drop into the 50s. As we are in the Alps, participants must be prepared for variable weather conditions that can change suddenly and include hot, sunny days, prolonged rainfall and even an occasional dusting of snow.
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Tour du Mont Blanc
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- One piece of luggage
- Small duffel bag, to store extra gear and clothing at the Chamonix hotel (optional)
- Daypack, large enough to carry your camera, water bottles, lunch, extra clothing and overnight items you will need on Day 6
- Rain cover for daypack, waterproof
- Luggage tags and luggage locks
- Passport pouch or money belt
- Bring a few casual, lightweight, easily washable items for travel and city wear
- Rain jacket, waterproof and breathable
- Rain or wind pants, waterproof and breathable
- Midweight fleece or wool sweater
- Down or fleece vest
- Light fleece pants or tights
- Lightweight thermal underwear top and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants, lightweight and synthetic, zip-off legs work great!
- Hiking shorts, lightweight and synthetic
- Long-sleeve shirts (quick-drying, synthetic)
- T-shirts (at least 2 quick-drying, synthetic)
- Hiking socks
- Liner socks
- Casual socks
- Swimsuit (for use at some hotels)
- Sun hat
- Wool or fleece hat
- Lightweight gloves
- Warm gloves (for early June and late-August departures)
- Hiking boots, waterproof, broken-in, aggressive tread
- Comfortable shoes for evenings and travel
- Travel towel (see "Things to Consider")
- Sleep sheet and pillowcase (see "Things to Consider")
- Two 1-quart water bottles or hydration system
- Trekking poles (highly recommended)
- Gaiters, short (all departures) or knee high (June and early July departures)
- Headlamp, spare batteries and bulb
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock and lip balm with high SPF
- Toiletry kit
- Personal first-aid kit
- Toilet kit ditty bag containing: 1 roll toilet tissue, Ziploc bags, hand sanitizer or Wet Ones
- Camera, memory cards and spare batteries
- Battery charger, converter, plug adapter
- Small binoculars
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Knee supports
- Insect repellent
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Reading and writing materials
- Ear plugs
- Shower thongs/sandals
Things to Consider
- Always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, medications, hiking boots and a change of clothing in your carry-on baggage in case your luggage is delayed.
- There is no vehicle access our accommodations on Day 6. Each guest will carry their daily necessities, as well as their overnight items in their daypack on Day 6. The mountain hut provides beds, blankets, sleep sheets and pillowcases. If you wish to bring and use your own sleep sheet, it can be purchased at your nearest REI store or online at www.rei.com.
- Auberges and refuges do not have elevators. Please be prepared to carry your luggage between your room and the reception area.
- We recommend the REI MultiTowel (available in various sizes) or similar as a quick-dry towel for this trip. See www.rei.com for details.
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene, MTS and Thermax.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin or blister remedies for foot treatment. Thin liner socks made of silk or synthetic fibers worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. Test your sock combination before you go on the trip.
- Bring a small ditty bag that includes a Ziploc bag with toilet tissue, spare Ziploc bags to dispose of soiled tissue, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes. Women should include any necessary feminine hygiene products. Your ditty bag will be carried in your daypack every day of the trip.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.