While the Tour du Mont Blanc is demanding, it’s not a particularly difficult hike. It’s just long, with lots of altitude gain and loss, and always scenic. On my recent trek around the mountain with three friends, it seemed each of us had a weak spot: knees, toes, or lungs. For some, the challenge was the uphill part, and for others (with weak knees), it was going downhill. We just took it easy, with lots of little breaks.
For long climbs, steady, smaller steps are best. The trail could be really rocky, and I can’t imagine doing it without hiking poles. The trail signs were great, and apps made staying on the trail easy: Just follow the blue dot. And I got good use out of a top-quality printed map. (I’d spend time the night before reading up on the hike and familiarizing myself with the trail on the map.)
While the weather forecast looked threatening, we hiked six days (in September, during the last week of the season) and, thankfully, had only one hour of rain. Still, each day we’d pack rain gear, and we’d add on and take off layers as we gained and lost altitude. After four days, we had it sorted out, and it occurred to us rank beginners, “We’re getting good at this.”
As we were hiking in a big circle around a big clump of mountains and sleeping in charming towns each night, every day seemed to be up and over a daunting mountain pass. A nightly treat was a stroll under a milky blanket of stars.
I’ll be sharing more photos, stories, and tips from Mont Blanc on the Nov. 29 edition of Monday Night Travel. Want to come along? Register now for this fun — and free! — event.