The Tour du Mont Blanc – Rick Steve’s travel blog

Earlier this autumn, four of us – total newcomers on long-distance trekking – walked around Europe’s highest mountain. (On the first day, the big birds of prey hovered over my head. My guess is: they were vultures just waiting for one of us to come down.)

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a 100-mile, ten-day hike – but we cheated a bit, hiking the best 60 miles in six days from Mountain Lodge to Mountain Lodge, catching a local bus through less exciting parts and a “Sherpa service” in France, Italy. And run our bags every day from Chamonix to Chamonix via Switzerland.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a 160 km (100 mi) perimeter of Europe’s highest mountain. We have made 100 km (60 miles) the most efficient way to connect parts with public buses
I prefer the Sherpa service at Mont Blanc: you leave your big bag in the hotel lobby or in your mountain shelter and rely on the shuttle bus to pick it up and deliver it safely and safely to your next accommodation. Every day, our bags were happily waiting for us at check-in.
The Tour du Mont Blanc has an array of buses and mountain lifts available to assist travelers as they choose. The season is short, however, and most elevators and buses are closed from mid-September.

This is the first time I enjoyed a piece of Europe with my girlfriend Shelley and we were joined by Sue and David from Minnesota. (I worked with David Preston for 20 years at TPT – Twin Cities PBS. In the world of public television, he is considered a “please drive guru”.)

Everyone seems to have hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc counterclockwise, starting from the official start point in the village of Les Houches just outside the Chamonix. And this arch is always good for a happy, pre-blister group shot.

Each day, we would take a five-hour hike to what the trail signs said – which took us six or seven. Our motto: “Take your time. That’s why we’re here.” Typically, the day begins with a 3,000-foot climb (or “call”) 8,000 feet above sea level.

Part of our pre-trip training was taking steep hikes near the house. On a typical day’s climb of a thousand meters (or about 3,000 feet) at TMB, I would recommend choosing a practice hike with a 3,000-foot altitude gain so you can use it as a reference point. In the state of Washington we had the Mount Sea Trail. We even had a word for a 3,000-foot elevation: “A Mount Sea.”

Every morning at Mont Blanc, we will do our hard work, usually climbing to a height of 3,000-feet. It seemed to last forever … but it didn’t. And reaching the pass (usually about 8,000 feet above sea level) was always a celebration of lunch.

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