Below are the most common frequently asked questions on the TMB. This section will give you a lot of answers particularly if you are planning to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc self guided. If you can’t find the answer to your question, email me and I’ll try to answer it for you!
What is the Tour du Mont Blanc?
The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a 170km trek that circumnavigates the highest peak in Western Europe – Mont Blanc (4809m). Trekkers cross into three countries, starting in France, then walking over high altitude mountain passes into Italy and Switzerland. The trail has some of the most staggering scenery in the world. With a backdrop of Mont Blanc and the Mont Blanc Massif, the trail ambles over wild, rocky passes (some often filled with snow) and through deep ice carved valleys. With almost daily views of magnificent glaciers and jagged peaks, the Tour du Mont Blanc will take your breath away. Trekkers stay in high mountain refuges (huts) along the route. The trek takes 10-11 days to complete, although as the trail is accessible at several points, it’s possible to dip in and out of the trail for 3-4 days at a time for shorter treks.
How far is the Tour du Mont Blanc trail?
The full Tour du Mont Blanc circuit is 106 miles or 170km.
Which countries does the TMB go through?
The Tour du Mont Blanc trail route goes through France, Italy & Switzerland. The official start is in Les Houches in the valley of Chamonix, France but there are are other points you can access the trail from Italy and Switzerland.
How difficult is the Tour du Mont Blanc?
The Tour du Mont Blanc is no easy feat. The combined elevation of the complete circuit amounts to more elevation that climbing Mount Everest! The trail goes over wild, uneven terrain, crosses high mountain passes and does have some exposure in parts.
One stage of the trail has metal ladders to climb, although there is an alternative route for trekkers who feel uncomfortable about tackling them.
Having said that walkers tackling the route in high season (July & August) need no mountaineering abilities. The trail is very well maintained and there are refuges every 5km along the trail so it’s possible to carve the trail into more digestible chunks and go at your own pace.
Most trekkers tend to spend 10-11 days completing the whole circuit but there are also many hikers that trek half the trail one year and return the following year to complete the trek.
Where is the start point of the TMB trail?
The official start (and end) point of the Tour du Mont Blanc is in the village of Les Houches at the end of the Chamonix Valley.
Do I have to start my TMB in Les Houches, Chamonix?
Absolutely not. The beauty of the TMB is that there are several places to access the trail so there is no need to start in Les Houches, the official start (and finish) point. It is possible to start your hike in the Italian town of Courmayeur, or the Swiss town of Champex-Lac. However, logistically if you are flying into Geneva Airport, Chamonix would be the easiest place to arrive and therefore to depart on your Tour du Mont Blanc adventure.
Do I have to hike the route anti-clockwise?
No, absolutely not. Most hikers opt to hike the TMB anti-clockwise because it’s recommended that way in the guidebooks. The reason being the views of Mont Blanc will be in front of you, not behind.
But it’s perfectly possible to hike in the opposite direction, which will provide a much quieter trail experience in the mornings whilst the afternoons will see a steady of traffic coming towards you. The best guide book if you want to trek clockwise is Kev Reynold’s Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc which includes the entire tour day by day anti-clockwise AND clockwise.
Many second timer trekkers like to hike the trail clockwise to see a different perspective. There are no rules. Hike in the direction you want to.
How long will trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc take me?
The Tour du Mont Blanc has 11 ‘stages’. Traditionally trekkers take 11 days to complete (1 stage per day).
Adding extra rest days in the Italian town of Courmayeur (half way) and arrival, rest days & departure day in Chamonix and you should expect to book at least 2 weeks to trek the entire tour.
However, the choice is entirely yours. Some people choose to fast pack the trail in 7 days. Others decide to split the tour in two and complete half, returning the following year to complete it.
It’s also possible to trek just 2-3 or 3-4 days on the trail as there are various access points. For example there is an incredible section between Les Contamines and Courmayeur which takes in 3 days of glorious high altitude mountain scenery (or if starting from Chamonix, just 4 days).
We’ve written up various itineraries of the TMB trail which gives good suggestions of routes if you don’t have 11 days to commit to the trail.
Is it possible to only walk some of the TMB trail?
Absolutely. The full circuit takes around 10-11 days but it’s easy to only walk a few sections.
The traditional starting place for the Tour du Mont Blanc is Chamonix Mont Blanc in France but you can start at any of the towns along the route. The main towns on the trail are Chamonix and Les Contamines in France, Courmayeur in Italy and Champex-Lac in Switzerland.
You can hike a variety of sections and can even pick up public transport to skip sections of the trail. You can read more about hiking shorter sections of the trail in our itineraries section.
Should I hike the Tour du Mont Blanc self guided or do I need a guide?
The Tour du Mont Blanc route is a very well marked and maintained trail. It is very easy to follow and most hikers manage to complete the trail without a guide. However it must be remembered that this is a high mountain trek – bad weather can come in very quickly and hikers must know how to read a map, use a compass and know what to do in an emergency. We would highly recommend that hikers planning to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc self guided download an offline GPS app such as Gaia GPS to make sure you always know where you are on the trail.
Some hikers choose to buy a self guided package which various companies now offer which include accommodation reservations, a set itinerary and detailed hike notes.
Hikers who don’t feel confident hiking the trail independently or solo hikers who want to be part of a group can book with many trekking tour operators who guide the route. Group size tend to be between 8-12 per guide and you should expect your guide to be very knowledgable of the history, culture and flora and fauna of the trail and the regions you will be passing through.
What is the best time of year to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?
The Tour du Mont Blanc trail is open from June to September.
Whilst snow won’t fall until late October/November, the infrastructure on the trail that supports hikers (refuges, shops etc) close at the end of September so whilst the trail is still passable for a few more weeks, it’s not recommended.
Snow still covers parts of the trail during the first few weeks in June so hikers should not book to trek the trail during these weeks unless equipped with crampons, ice axes and rope and know how to use them.
The busiest times on the trail are the summer holidays in mid-July and August. The quietest times to hike are June and September.
But there’s a lot more to consider than purely the busiest and quietest times. Conditions on the trail are much more hazardous in June and early July due to avalanche risk and snow on the trail. If you want to take any of the specialist public transport options, such as many of the shuttle buses (navettes), these only operate in peak season. If you want to see the mountains covered in wild flowers then early season is best (June, early July).
Hikers should avoid the week spanning late August to early September as endurance athletes take to the trail to compete in the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc (UTMB). Thousands of runners compete and so it’s difficult to walk the trail.
How early should I plan my Tour du Mont Blanc trek?
As early as you can!
If you are planning on hiking self guided, booking refuges is key to your planning. Many of the popular refuges book up very quickly so it’s recommended that, to have your pick of accommodation, that you book as early as December-February.
You can book the Tour du Mont Blanc refuges at any time on the official site www.autourdumontblanc.com or direct on many of the refuge websites.
What are the best stages on the Tour du Mont Blanc?
Some of the most impressive stages on the Tour du Mont Blanc are Stages 2, 3, 4, and 10, 11.
Stage 2 Les Contamines to Les Chapieux, Stage 3 Les Chapieux to Elisabetta & Stage 4 Elisabetta to Courmayeur
The route from Les Contamines to Refugio Elisabetta crosses the wild, savage terrain across the two infamous cols, Col du Bonhomme and Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. You’ll cross from France over into Italy all the while staggered by the sheer scale of the mountains surrounding you. You’ll be hiking the southern flank of the Val Veni in Stage 4 constantly looking at the impenetrable wall of rock, ice and jagged peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif.
Stage 10 – Trè-le-Champ – La Flégère & Stage 11 – La Flégère – Les Houches
Tré-le-Champ to La Flégère and La Flégère to Les Houches have magnificent jaw dropping views over the Chamonix valley and Mont Blanc.
Can you see Mont Blanc the whole way round the circuit?
No you will not see Mont Blanc every day if you hike the entire circuit of the Tour du Mont Blanc. Other peaks and mountains of the Mont Blanc Massif obscure Mont Blanc on some stages.
Can I take public transport to shorten stages?
Yes absolutely. There are lots of public transport options to shorten stages or to save weary legs. It’s possible to take cable cars and chair lifts up & down mountains, to take buses along some of the valley roads and there are also a number of small shuttles (navettes) that operate during the peak season.
What kind of animals might we encounter on the TMB?
Hikers frequently see marmottes on certain sections of the trail. These large squirrel like mammals like to nest in burrows near rocks & emit a whistling sound when threatened. You will likely encounter them on stage 3 of the TMB walking down from the Col de la Seigne into Italy just after the La Casermetta environmental centre, on Stage 5 along the Mont de la Saxe near Courmayeur and in the Aiguille Rouge National Park on Stage 10. Keep your eyes peeled.
Chamois and Ibex are also often seen on the trail, particularly on stage 10 of the Tour du Mont Blanc when the trail passes through the Aiguille Rouge nature reserve.
A chamois is a small antelope regularly seen in this region normally at around 2000m. They have short rounded horns. The ibex is a magnificent beast, much larger than a chamois, with larger impressive horns which are ridged according to their age. Ibex habit the higher mountain over 2000m and are less common than chamois but you may have a chance to see them in the Aiguille Rouge National Park on stage 10.
Tour du Mont Blanc cost. How much do I need to budget per day?
How much your TMB trek costs will vary according to the level of accommodation you choose, your choice of food options. The cheapest way to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc is by camping. You can save money by sleeping in dormitories over private rooms at the refuges (sometimes the only option anyhow) and to skip Switzerland if you can, or fast pack through it. Switzerland will seriously drain your finances.
On a shoestring budget camping expect to be spending €50 a day, dorm accommodation €90 a day, private room accommodation €120 a day. These averages do not factor in any transport whatsoever or rest days, but does includes demi pension (breakfast + dinner) at the refuges and a packed lunch on route.
Can I organise luggage transfers between huts?
Yes, there are many luggage providers that offer bag transfers between the Mont Blanc refuges. They cannot however drop your bag off at inaccessible refuges. ie the high altitude huts who do not have a road leading to them (Refuge Nant Borrant, Refuge Balme, Refuge Croix du Bonhomme, Refuge Mottets, Cabane Combal, Rifugio Bertone, Rifugio Bonatti, Refugio Elisabetta, Refugio Elena, Refuge Col du Balme). Some luggage providers do drop at Les Chapieux, others don’t.
There will be some nights therefore when your bag won’t join you and you’ll have to put an extra few items in your pack to see you through to the following evening when you’ll again be reunited with your bag.
Can we hike the Tour du Mont Blanc with kids?
Absolutely, however it’s not recommended for kids under the age of 10, unless they are very experienced in long hikes. Families wishing to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc should prepare very carefully and be well versed with the public transport options to cut trail times and help weary legs. There are many options to shorten the stages whilst still taking in the best of the Tour du Mont Blanc.
How fit do I need to be to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?
All hikers preparing for the Tour du Mont Blanc need to have a reasonable level of fitness. Your experience will be hugely different if you have (or haven’t) prepared your body as much as possible for the biggest challenge – the elevation. Don’t underestimate this trek. The elevation is hard going – you could climbing 1000m on some days.
The best way to train for the Tour du Mont Blanc is to undertake as many long full day training hikes or even a couple of double days before arriving in the Alps. Make sure to train with a 10kg backpack on and if you can try to do a couple of overnight treks beforehand.
We have teamed up with pro physio Neil Martin-Mclean (who has run the TMB numerous times in the endurance race the UTMB) to produce a video showing you some easy daily exercises to help adapt your body to the conditions you’ll find on the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Can I take my dog with me on the Tour du Mont Blanc?
Yes, you can take your dog on the TMB however restrictions apply and you won’t be able to do the whole circuit as Stage 10 and 11 pass through nature reserves where dogs are prohibited.
What if I can’t walk one day due to bad weather or tiredness?
There are various public transport options along the route that you can take if bad weather is predicted, you don’t feel feel or you are just plain dog tired!
What is the nearest airport to the start of the TMB trail?
The closest airport to the Tour du Mont Blanc start point is Geneva in Switzerland. If you’re flying within Europe, Easyjet is the cheapest no frills carrier.
From Geneva airport it’s an hour transfer to Chamonix. You can read more about airport transfers & getting to Chamonix in our post below.
How can I fly with trekking poles if I’m only bringing hand luggage?
If you’re planning on just taking hand luggage with you on your flight to Switzerland, you will be unable to bring trekking poles with you as they are not allowed on the flight unless they are in checked luggage.
Trekking poles are absolutely essential in trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc so if you can’t bring your own, you can either post them to yourself at your first night’s accommodation in Chamonix (but this can be costly depending on where you are located in the world), or you can buy or rent them in Chamonix.
We would recommend renting from Technique Extreme (200 Avenue de l’Aiguille du Midi) as they offer the lowest pricing.
If you want to buy poles but can’t take them back with you, consider gifting them to local school Ecole Jacques Balmat, who run an annual ‘bourse’ to raise money for school trips. Contact me for more details.
What currency do I need to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?
You will need to take cash with you when you hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. Most of the refuges do not accept bank cards, so you will need to pay in cash for the balance of your stay (or the entire amount in some refuges such as Elisabetta that do not have online booking facilities). Make sure you take ENOUGH cash with you. ATMs are limited along the route.
What currency? Euros along with a few Swiss francs.
Euros are accepted in France and Italy. Switzerland accepts euros but will give change in Swiss Francs. Most hotels in Switzerland will accept debit/credit cards as payment so it’s not necessary to bring a large amount of Swiss Francs with you but if you book into one of the smaller Swiss refuges check at the time of booking.
You will definitely need Swiss Francs if you intend to take the bus along some of the route in Switzerland.
How much will it cost to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc?
How much your TMB trek costs will vary according to the level of accommodation you choose and the choice of food options. The cheapest way to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc is by camping, however this wouldn’t suit everyone choosing to hike the tour. The next best way to save money on the tour is to say in the refuge dormitories over private rooms and to skip Switzerland if you can, or fast pack through it. Switzerland will seriously drain your finances.
On a shoestring budget camping expect to be spending €50 a day, dorm accommodation €90 a day, private room accommodation €120 a day. These averages do not factor in any transport whatsoever but includes demi pension (breakfast + dinner) and a packed lunch on route.
Where are the ATMs on the TMB trail?
ATMS can be found in Chamonix, Les Houches, Les Contamines, Courmayeur, La Fouly, Champex-Lac and Argentière.
Do not take cash out of the ATM when arriving at Geneva Airport hoping to get euros. You will be issued Swiss Francs.
Will the refuges accept credit cards or debit cards?
No the majority of refuges not not accept credit or debit cards. They do not have the facilities. These are high mountain huts. You will need to take cash to pay your bill and for any snacks you want to buy from the refuges.
Do I need to tip at the refuges?
No whilst a 10% service tip is normally applied (at your discretion) in France, it is not necessary to tip when staying in a refuge. Of course, if you have been very pleased with the service, you can leave a tip, but it is not expected.
How do I book the TMB refuges?
After you have figured out your route (very important – read our planning section) you can book your Tour du Mont Blanc refuges online. Many of the refuges, but annoying not all, can be booked on www.montourdumontblanc.com – it’s very easy to do and is in English.
However many of the best refuges (Bonatti, Elisabetta, Lac Blanc) are privately owned and so are not on the website. For these refuges you need to contact the refuge direct via email or their website to book. This makes it quite difficult if you do not book early enough (book early between Dec-Feb to have your pick of the refuges) as it becomes one large jigsaw puzzle piecing together reservations as you wait for confirmation from several different sources. If one refuge is full on your chosen dates you may well have to change your entire itinerary.
One of my chosen refuges is full, what should I do? Do I need to re-plan my entire itinerary?
If you have booked late then you may well find that one of your chosen refuges is actually full on the night you wish to book. This can play havoc with your planned itinerary because you’ve chosen to hike a set number of kilometres per day. What do you do?
There are two choices is one of your chosen refuges is full.
One – ask to go onto their waiting list. Often there are cancellations, particularly as trekking operators often blanket book beds early on. It’s risky as there may well be no cancellations but it’s paid off for me in the past.
Two – re-route your itinerary. This can be very stressful and time consuming, plus if you’ve already booked several refuges and have to re-route, you may not get your deposit back.
The way to avoid the above scenario is to BOOK WELL IN ADVANCE. Aim to book between December and January for the following summer. Booking in advance will take the stress out of your planning.
Can you get wifi in the TMB refuges?
Most of the time no. These are high altitude mountain huts often above 2000m. Expect not to be able to connect and enjoy switching off and onto nature.
You can however get excellent wifi in the Casametta Environmental Centre after descending from the Col de la Seigne into Italy. You will get internet in all the towns on the route.
Can I camp next to the refuges on the Tour du Mont Blanc trail?
All French refuges apart from Refuge Lac Blanc allow camping in their vicinity along the Tour du Mont Blanc trail. You will still need to ask permission and often it comes with the premiss that you will have dinner at the refuge. It is legal to ‘bivvy’ in France meaning you can set up your tent at sundown but it must be packed up again first thing.
Italy and Switzerland it’s a different story. Camping is illegal below 2500m in Italy so none of the rifugios allow it. If you’re above 2500m, then it’s from dusk til dawn again only. Switzerland completely prohibits wild camping so the only option to head to one of the official campsites along the trail.
Which are the best refuges on the trail?
What are the best Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges? Of course this is subjective, everyone has differing levels of expectations and ‘best’ could be categorised by ‘most adventurous’ or those that offer the best level of comfort.
In our opinion, the best refuges are:
Bonatti (excellent refuge for level of comfort, friendliness, food, spectacular setting)
Elisabetta (spectacular setting next to a glacier, not rated for comfort or food)
Nant Borrant (food, friendliness, small dorms)
Mottets (food, friendliness, location, comfort)
Will the staff in the refuges speak English?
Yes, all the refuges have English speaking staff.
What is the food like in the high mountain huts?
The high mountain huts on the Tour du Mont Blanc serve hearty meals, often 3-4 courses. Of course some offer a higher standard of evening meal that others (Bonatti, Nant Borrant, Mottets & Refuge de la Nova are excellent). As the tour passes through three different countries, you’ll get the chance to sample each’s cuisine.
First course is normally soup (or risotto or bruschetta in Italy) followed by a local dish of diots (sausages), tartiflette (a cheese & bacon gratin), or stew. Expect a cheese dish to follow and then dessert such as apple tart or pana cotta.
Wine or beer flows generously in all mountain huts. This is not included with your dinner and will be extra. Expect to pay 10-15 euros for a carafe of wine.
Can I get a shower in the high mountain huts?
Most of the time – yes. However, it’s not guaranteed to be hot! Some refuges offer a token (jeton) system in an attempt to share hot water between the many trekkers on the route. Expect to have a quick shower and hope it’s hot.
A few of the smaller huts, notably Refuge Bellachat (stage 11) do not have showers.
Where can I wash my clothes on the Tour du Mont Blanc ?
The towns along the tour all have laundries that can do a wash for you, however once you’re trekking the remote higher stages of the hike, it’s best to take some soap along with you to hand wash items as you need them. Always pack technical, fast drying clothing or merino base layers which tend not to smell even after multiple wears.
What equipment do I need to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc?
No specialist equipment is required to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc unless you plan to trek the trail very early in the season, in which case the trail is often still snow bound in parts and an ice axe, crampons and a rope are required. The condition of the trail is dependant on how much snow has fallen during the winter months. The trail officially opens mid June so early season is considered from mid June to the end of June & often the first week of July, weather depending.
Those trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc later in the season should bring sturdy, waterproof, worn in hiking boots, a technical hiking ruck sack, and collapsible walking poles.
What is the maximum recommended weight of a daypack?
The maximum recommended weight for a day pack on the Tour du Mont Blanc is 10kg.
Will I need crampons to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc?
You will only need hiking crampons on the Tour du Mont Blanc if you are planning to trek very early in the season (mid to end of June). If you’re trekking early July, they are still worth popping in your rucksack. They are pretty lightweight and will avoid falls, which can be fatal, on some snow covered cols.
What should I pack to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?
As little as possible! No seriously, if you’re packing to the guide lines of the recommended 10kg weight for a day pack, you will need to pack light. Essentials only. You can leave a larger bag at your hotel in Chamonix for the duration of your stay. Most hotels do not mind this as long as you plan to stay with them the night you return from the tour.
If you cannot contemplate packing such a light bag for the Tour du Mont Blanc, it is possible to organise luggage transfers to all but most remote refuges along the route. See our luggage transfers article.
If you are staying in the refuges along the trail, rather than camping, you will only need the bare minimum to carry as food and bedding (apart from a sleeping bag liner) are provided for you by the refuge. Note: trekkers are currently required to carry their own sleeping bag due to Covid-19.
A basic packing list is as follows.
Hiking poles, backpack with rain cover, waterproofs, hiking trousers, hiking shorts, T-shirts, sun hat, fleece, down jacket, beanie, wool socks, sunglasses, suncream, medical kit, map, guidebook, power bank, snacks, whistle, torch, survival blanket, ear plugs, sleeping bag liner, travel towel, toiletries, camera/phone.
Is the Tour du Mont Trail open with Covid-19?
It’s not whether the trail is open, rather whether the refuges and the infrastructure of the trail (airport, local transport, shops etc) are open.
The refuges are open but with limited spaces due to covid restrictions. Trekkers will only be accepted if they have booked in advance and have a pass sanitaire (covid pass).
Some refuges now request that hikers to bring their own personal sleeping bag, instead of just the sleeping bag liner.
Trekkers on the trail in France in 2020 and 2021 had to download, sign and carry with them a hiker’s charter (a sworn statement) declaring themselves to be symptom free. Now that the passport sanitaire (covid pass) and before long the vaccine pass will be mandatory in France for overnight shared accommodation, it may well be that this signed ‘charter’ will no longer be necessary in 2022.
Is the Tour du Mont Blanc trail well marked?
Yes very well marked. The trail is very easy to follow unless you encounter low cloud or fog. Thousands of hikers trek the trail every year with without a guide.
It is recommended that hikers use an offline map GPS (such as Gaia) to pinpoint their position along the route which will help enormously in bad weather.
What are the biggest mistakes hikers make on the TMB?
The biggest mistakes made by hikers on the TMB are:-
- not booking refuges early enough
- taking too much gear – don’t overpack
- not training enough, just a simple workout can help (see our video)
- setting off too late in the day
- not heeding weather warnings
- not taking trekking poles
- underestimating the route
How do I find out about conditions on the trail before departing?
You can find out about conditions on the Tour du Mont Blanc trail by visiting Chamonix’s Maison de la Montagne.
The Maison de la Montagne is a High Mountain Office (Office de Haute Montagne) based in the Place de l’Église in the town centre. The Maison de la Montagne is there to help anyone planning to depart into the mountains with up-to-date information as to conditions, weather reports and safety advice. They speak English.
You can visit their website here https://www.chamoniarde.com/en#
How do I stay safe trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc?
There are a number of ways to make sure you stay safe whilst you trek the Tour du Mont Blanc. We have a dedicated article of how to stay safe but here are the basic guidelines.
- research the route well taking care to understand the difficulty & elevation of each stage – don’t underestimate how long it can take to cover the distance
- always check the weather report and never set off on the trail if weather warnings have been issued
- set off early every day so that you are not hiking in the dark if you have under estimated your day
- put the local rescue services numbers in your phone for each country and make sure that every member of your group does likewise
- take a basic medical kit
- take a map & compass or an offline GPS map such as Gaia to pin point your position
- download ‘these three words’ app to help you pin point your position to emergency services
- never veer off the marked path and never go onto a glacier
- always carry a torch and a whistle to sound the distress call
What number do I call in an emergency on the TMB?
112 is the emergency telephone number in Europe or you can text 114.
Italy is 118.
Switzerland is 1414
Often it’s quicker to call mountain rescue direct rather than the emergency services. They will immediately get the helicopter out if immediate assistance is required. Put these numbers in your phone.
FRANCE – Chamonix Helicopter rescue (PGHM) +33 (0)4 50 53 16 89.
FRANCE – Bourg St Maurice rescue helicopter +33 (0) 4 79 07 01 10 (for the Contamines/Les Chapieux French sections
ITALY – Aosta Valley helicopter +39 (0) 165 238 222
SWITZERLAND – REGA 1414
Other useful numbers in Chamonix are:
- Chamonix Hospital: +33 (0)4 50 53 84 00
- Compagnie des Guides: +33 (0)4 50 53 00 88
- Office de Haute Montagne: +33 (0)4 50 53 22 08
- Weather in English: 0892 70 03 30
You can download a handy Chamonix mountain safety flashcard to print and laminate with all the safety numbers to call & useful phrases here.
Will I get phone/cell signal on the trail or in the refuges?
Phone signal can vary along the trail but is generally very good depending on how near you are to a town and how steep sided the valley is. The signal in the valley of Les Chapieux (Col du Bonhomme to Col de la Seigne) however is almost non existent.
Every hiker should carry a mobile phone to alert mountain rescue in the event of an emergency. If an emergency occurs where you cannot pick up signal know that all refuges have a landline. There isn’t a point on the Tour du Mont Blanc where refuges are more than 5km apart so in this scenario you would need to send a member of your group either forwards or backwards on the trail to the nearest refuge. Many tour group leader have a satellite phone so be sure to ask any group you pass.
Will I need specialist insurance to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc?
You will probably need to up your level of cover on most travel insurance. Trekking up to an altitude of 2,500m is normally covered in a standard policy. Whilst trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc you will be trekking up to an altitude of 2584m on the traditional route and up to 2665m if you are planning to hike the variant trail so you may need to look at premier travel insurance policies that cover you to trek to 6,000m.
Mountain rescue via helicopter can be expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel insurance to cover this and associated medical treatment required in the event of an emergency.
Can I drink from the streams on the Tour du Mont Blanc?
Plenty of hikers fill up from the streams along the TMB route, however in case an animal has died further upstream, it’s best to play it safe & take water purification tablets with you to add to your water when you fill up and always fill up from a fast flowing section.
There are plenty of drinking troughs in the villages and hamlets you’ll pass through on the Tour du Mont Blanc so it’s actually rare that you should be desperate enough to fill up from a stream. Stages 10 and 11 are known to be the ‘driest’ stages where access to fresh water is limited.
A good tip is to keep rehydrated is to take a good long drink at the drinking troughs and then fill your bottle a second time.
What weather report is the most accurate for the TMB?
All refuges will have a printed weather report on display for trekkers.
If you want to keep an eye on the weather before you set off on your tour, Chamonix Meteo is an excellent weather report for Chamonix. You can read a detailed report in English https://chamonix-meteo.com/chamonix-mont-blanc/weather/
For the Italian and Swiss sections of the TMB unfortunately it’s harder to get such a reliable report as Chamonix Meteo. https://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Courmayeur/6day/mid is reasonable, as is https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Mont-Blanc-de-Courmayeur/forecasts/4748
How cold will it get at night on the Tour du Mont Blanc?
Even in the full height of summer, it can get cold on the Tour du Mont Blanc route because of the high altitude. At night, the mountains turn cold. It’s for this reason that you will need to include a down jacket, fleece, beanie and gloves in your TMB packing list so that you’re comfortable if you want to sit outside the refuge and gaze at the stars or the mountains, staggeringly beautiful in the moonlight. Of course you need this warm kit too for if the the weather turns bad on the trail during the day.
The refuges are heated and, if you’re sharing a large dormitory, you’ll be toasty being one of many bodies sharing the same space. Refuges provide duvets and blankets (you’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag liner) so you won’t be cold inside.