3-Minute Read: Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps
By Michael Lanza
Look at any list of the world’s greatest hiking trails, and the Tour du Mont Blanc almost invariably occupies a spot at or near the top of the list. There are many good reasons for that. But first and foremost comes the sheer majesty of this roughly 105-mile (170k) walking path around the “Monarch of the Alps.” Passing through three nations—France, Italy, and Switzerland—and over several mountain passes reaching nearly 9,000 feet, it delivers almost constant views of glaciers, pointy peaks and “augilles,” and when it’s not engulfed in clouds, the snowy dome of Mont Blanc.
I just returned from a wonderful, nine-day trek on the Tour du Mont Blanc with my family and eight other friends and relatives—including my 80-year-old mom, whom I like to call “The World’s Toughest Grandmother” (although she’s about to become “The World’s Toughest Great-Grandmother”)—and we were blown away by the scenery and the experience. Scroll through my photos from the trip in this blog post for a window into the awesome character of this trail.
Here’s another reason for the enormous popularity of the Tour du Mont Blanc, or TMB: the abundance of scenic mountain towns and villages, as well as the availability of public transportation at numerous points along the route, allowing hikers to customize their trek, choosing which sections to hike depending on difficulty, weather, and how they feel. One of my primary motivations for doing the TMB with my family was that my mom had long wanted to hike in the Alps, and I found it eminently feasible to craft a TMB itinerary that would allow most of our group to hike the entire trail, while others could do sections, and we’d all still spend most of our evenings together.
We did spend three of our eight nights on the TMB in mountain huts situated high in rural valleys or on mountain slopes with views of towering peaks and heavily crevassed glaciers. But we spent the majority of our nights in comfortable hotel rooms, enjoying delicious dinners with wine or beer every evening. While a backpacker could get spoiled doing this too much, we endured it bravely.
But even those in our party who only hiked sections enjoyed some of the TMB’s best mountain scenery.
Watch for my upcoming feature-length story about trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc, which will include details on how I planned the trip to accommodate the needs and interests of a diverse group.
Meanwhile, find information about the Tour du Mont Blanc and other treks in the Swiss Alps at valais.ch/en/activities/hiking/hiking-tours and myswitzerland.com, and see a menu of all of my stories about International Adventures at The Big Outside.
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