Hiking tour du mont blanc in 7 days.
During the very long lockdown from fall 2020 to summer 2021, I somehow managed to hike every weekend with a few friends who live in my area. We always looked forward to getting out of the house every Sunday and hiking for 2-3 hrs, and I found myself spending a lot of time making lists of trails nearby and discovering more trails in Germany, France & even Switzerland. The latter was for me to go camping on during the summer, once lockdown was lifted.
This is how I stumbled upon the TMB on AllTrails as I kept on expanding my radius of hikes to do. Once I saw the photos of the TMB one early June morning, I knew I had to do it!
And just like that, I decided to do the TMB in mid September as a solo hike. I was very nervous to be honest as I prepared for this hike because this was end of the season and a lot of places to sleep in were shutting down.
The TMB is traditionally done in 11 days, and if you want to go at an even more leisurely pace, 14 days. On the other hand, you can go faster, from 24 hrs (ultra marathon runners), to about 6-8 days. I settled for 6 or 7 days because I was worried about bad weather in the last section. This meant my days were going to be 9-12hr days of hiking. As someone who loves hiking and the thrill of difficult hikes, I didn’t see this as a problem at all.
Well, the problem was, that the refuges, gites, auberges and hotels along the way have very specific hours for requiring you to be checked in. So I found myself racing against time every single day in order to be there by 6pm the latest, and leave at 8 a.m the earliest, if I wanted breakfast (which I did, because you don’t get the option of eating along the way, since you’re up in the mountains most of the time, and no, I didn’t want to settle for an energy bar instead).
The first 2 days, everything went according to plan and I was quite amazed at how well and easy everything went (not physically- my whole body hurt). Then day 3 & 4, things panned out last minute as I had to cancel and rebook my accommodations for the night in different cities, since I couldn’t make it in time to my goal destination. Day 5 & 6 were very exhausting mentally and physically. Almost all accommodations on the last segment were closed, leaving only 2 mountain refuges that had no space. I got really frustrated on these days because I had to back track quite a bit due to lack of accommodations. Day 7 was difficult mentally as I knew where the elevation would be the hardest, and the ascents proved to be quite painful on my toes too. I also ran out of water, and when I tried to buy some at a refuge along the way, they said they had no drinking water. Shortly after this, I got lost and found myself in front of a screaming alpine weasel. The short of it, is that I was absolutely frustrated on day 7, but I made it to Les Houches at 5 pm, ending my TMB hike!
I documented along the way and created a little video
- Day 1. Les houches to Les contamines-montjoie (Spent the night at Gîte Le Pontet.)
- Day 2. Les Contamines to Rifugio Elisabetta (Longest day, but also the most beautiful views)
- Day 3. Rifugio Elisabetta to Rifugio Bonatti.
- Day 4. Rifugio Bonatti to Arpette via the fenetre d’arpette variant (Spent the night at Relais d’arpette)
- Day 5. Arpette to Col de la forclaz (Spent the night at Col de la Forclaz hotel) – This hotel had the best meal! On this day, I hiked all the way past Trient and when I was 2hrs away from my refuge in Tre le champ, they let me know that nobody would be available to check me in if arrived late, so I had to turn around and go to Forclaz. All the accomodations in Trient were full or closed.
- Day 6. Col de la forclaz to Argentierre (Stayed at Le Dahu hotel). My plan had been to stay in Lac Blanc refuge, but they were full.
- Day 7. Argentierre to Les Houches via Lac Blanc (Spent the last night at Chris tal hotel in Les Houches)