Trip of a Lifetime: Trekking Mont Blanc

When people first hear about a trip trekking around Mont Blanc, they often think that the trip involves actually climbing the tallest mountain in the Alps. But, travelers don’t need be crampon-wearing, ice-axe wielding mountain climbers to enjoy this majestic mountain. The renowned Tour du Mont Blanc offers an opportunity for ordinary people to enjoy a circuit of mountain paths that takes hikers from France to Italy to Switzerland.

While many companies offer small group or private trips along the Tour du Mont Blanc, we have done several active adventure trips with G Adventures and chose to do our ten-day tour with them. On day one, we met our guides and fellow travelers for dinner where we learned about the logistics of our hiking days and also got to know our hiking companions. One thing I love about doing small group adventure tours with G Adventures is meeting like-minded people from around the world. During this particular trip, our group of 15 (including a guide and two guides in training) included people from Australia, Sweden, France, Spain, Germany, and the United States.

On the second day, we took a bus from Chamonix to Les Houches and then a gondola up to start our trek. (In order to complete the trek in seven hiking days, we made use of other forms of transport at the beginning and end of the route to finish the circuit.) The 9-mile hike was broken up with a stop at a mountain refuge where we enjoyed lunch with an amazing view of a grassy valley filled with cows and a snow peaked mountain. After regaining our energy, we forged on through varying terrain and even crossed an ancient Roman bridge before arriving to the Refuge Nant Borrant late in the afternoon. We spent the evening relaxing, talking to other travelers and enjoying a delicious meal of roast pork that I still think about.

The other hiking days followed a similar pattern. We woke up relatively early in the morning and had a hearty breakfast at the refuge, then got underway for anywhere from nine to 15 miles of hiking. Each day, we would take on one or two passes (called cols), with elevation gains ranging from a typical 2500-3000 feet to a maximum of 4300 feet on the second day of hiking. Along the way, we would stop for lunch at a refuge or a scenic spot. Then, after a descent usually similar to our ascent, we arrived at another mountain refuge to relax and recharge. The mountain refuges were rustic and usually bunk-style lodging. They all provided delicious dinners and many sold snacks and drinks, and would even pack a lunch for you for the next day’s hike.

The trip with G Adventures includes a rest day on Day 5 in Courmayeur, Italy. For nights 4 and 5, we stayed just outside of town in a beautiful bed and breakfast. For people who want to explore on their day off, there were plenty of options: a cable car ride, exploring the Aosta Valley, or a more low key spa day. However, we took it easy, explored the town a bit and enjoyed a lunch of antipasti and wine on the lawn of the B & B. Regardless of what each traveler did during their day off, we all started the last half of the trip with fresh legs. The remaining four days of hiking did not disappoint; we continued to enjoy unparalleled scenery, challenging hiking, and getting to know our fellow travelers. Our trip ended with a group dinner on the last night in Chamonix, where we relived the best parts of the trip and said our goodbyes.

Is this trip for me? Taking on a week-long trek that covers about 60 miles and includes many mountain passes (total ascent 20,831 feet, total descent 22,309) is physically challenging. This is not a hike for families with small children, but could be a good fit for families with active teenagers. Travelers should be in good health and accustomed to hiking. That being said, in preparation for our own trip, we never did more than 9 miles and didn’t do any back-to-back hiking days. While it is challenging, you don’t have to be super-fit to do it… just have a love of hiking and an interest in seeing some of the most amazing scenery anywhere!

If you are considering an active adventure trip, I would love to help you select and plan the best trip for you! I’ve participated in several G Adventures trips including two trekking trips, a sailing trip in Greece, and a multi-adventure tour in Costa Rica and am a certified G Adventures specialist. Contact me at kristin@familytravelsandadventures.com or (408)533-0080 to find out how I can provide individualized travel services for your next trip.

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