Walking the Tour du Mont Blanc on two occasions this summer my most striking impression was of the crowds. Guided walking groups were everywhere; from all parts of the globe. Clearly there’s a high demand for organised treks of the Tour du Mont Blanc. The Tour du Mont Blanc (or the TMB for short) has become a ?bucket list? item in the same way as the climbing of Mont Blanc itself.
It’s a fantastic trek but If you are seeking peace and tranquility you are unlikely to find it on the Tour du Mont Blanc. If you are still keen it may be worth considering prior to mid-July or September. One limiting factor for an ?early? TMB is that the high cols (passes), that reach around 2500 m, may hold large areas of snow into late June. This may mean having to cross large snow fields that may be frozen hard in the morning. Here a slip may have serious consequences. An ice axe and even crampons may be required to cross safely (and of course the knowledge to use them effectively). A second major factor is accommodation. Mountain refuges don’t typically open until the latter part of June, and close again in the latter half of September. Of course you can stay in more comfortable accommodation in the valleys. September, frequently a good month weather-wise, also sees various tourist services shutting down or on a much reduced timetable.
Please remember there’s much more the French Alps than Chamonix and the Mont Blanc massif, still with magnificent scenery and mountains, but ?off the (very) beaten track?. The Vanoise (outside the ski resorts) and the Beaufortain immediately spring to mind. Further afield there’s the Ecrins and the Queyras.
Despite the crowds tt was good to meet Florence and Bernadette, two ?Accompagnatrices? (Mountain Leaders) working for the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix. They were guiding a group of Alaskan women who were very much intent on enjoying themselves away from home.