A hiker stopping to appreciate where they've just come from | Allie Peden
Tour du Mont Blanc Dos and Don’ts
Allie from our Sydney office completed one of our most popular tours, the Mont Blanc Guided Walk. Here are her dos and don’ts for travellers preparing to walk one of most spectacular and famous long-distance trails in the world.
1. DON’T wait too long to book
The walking season in the Alps is short, from June to September. Space is limited in the gîtes and traditional mountain huts that dot the trail, and they do fill up. Double rooms are the first to book up, making upgrades from dorm-style accommodation more difficult.
2. DO try walking poles
We recommend that UTracks travellers use walking poles on our walking holidays because they offer your knees protection and help you keep your footing, especially on the Tour du Mont Blanc, which can feature slippery, uneven and even snowy sections. Only one woman in our group did not bring poles and by day two had borrowed our guides and used them for the rest of the walk!
3. DON’T BYO poles
In Chamonix, there are many gear shops where you can pick up cheap walking essentials like walking poles, gloves, quick drying t-shirts and sporks. I picked up a pair of walking poles for 14 euros the day before the walk, so I didn’t have to worry about squeezing them into my suitcase.
4. DO buy a lunchbox and utensils
A spork and bowl with a lid or sandwich container go a long way on any multi-day walking or cycling holiday. On the Mont Blanc Guided Walk
lunches consisted of a delicious salad prepared by our guide, bread, cheese, meats and fruit. Sandwich containers make for great makeshift bowls and are perfect for keeping leftovers and walking snacks – especially fruit – fresh and intact. On self guided walks, sandwich containers are essential for storing your lunch supplies.
5. DON’T expect to lose any weight
The classic Tour de Mont Blanc route traverses three countries, meaning that you get to sample the specialties of each country as you cross its border. Dinners in particular were something to look forward to after a long and challenging day of walking - they typically consisted of three courses with a soup or salad to start with, followed by a main and dessert. With a combination of dishes like terrines, fondue and Italian gelato, you definitely aren’t at risk of dropping a dress size!
6. DO proper hill training carrying a day pack
Our luggage transfer service means that you only have to carry what you need for each day’s walk (a minimum of 2L water, a portion of the group’s lunch, waterproof layers, sunscreen, hat, camera and snacks), while your remaining belongings for the week (up to 7kg) are transported to your next hotel every day by mule or van. To get a feel for walking long distances on mountainous terrain with a day pack, we recommend doing some hill training with some weight in your day pack before the trek.
7. DON’T think you can predict the weather
Weather can change quickly in the Alps. Even in the heart of summer, it can vary from being hot and sunny to wet and rainy, and high passes can be cold and windy - it can even snow! This means that you have to be prepared for all weather conditions by layering and having good waterproof gear.
8. DO invest in walking boots
If you don’t already own a pair, good walking boots should be at the top of your shopping list. Proper boots offer ankle support and can save you from stumbling over debris and twisting an ankle. It’s important that your boots are properly worn in before the walk so you don’t get blisters. On our guided walks, our guides have a duty of care to ensure that everyone is wearing boots with good ankle support.
9. DON’T forget your camera
Whichever Mont Blanc walk
you choose, you are certain to be blown away by the diverse local flora, animals and bird life, and spectacular scenery and picture-perfect mountain views that surround you for the duration of the walk.
10 DO expect to make life-long friends
Whether you go on a self-guided tour with family or friends or join a group as a solo traveller, expect to develop special bonds with the people you walk and share meals with in gîtes and mountain huts. The camaraderie that I experienced on the Tour du Mont Blanc was a highlight for me, and I have no doubt that I will keep in touch with my Mont Blanc 'family' for years to come.
Do you have any Mont Blanc tips to share? Let us know in the comment section below.