Most begin the trek out of Les Houches as Brian and Sylvia did…We will therefore describe the hike as it proceeds in the typical (counter-clockwise) direction as described by Kev Reynolds in his seminal guide, “The Tour of Mont Blanc” published by Cicerone. The itinerary we followed was almost identical to Kev’s eleven stage plan with a few minor variations.
The trek in the anticlockwise direction can generally be broken up this way:
- Section One: Four hard days from Les Houches, FR to Courmayeur, IT.
- Section Two: Four relatively moderate (if you stick to the low route) days from Courmayeur to Trient, Switz.
- Section Three: Three very hard days, with the last being the absolute hardest day of the tour, from Trient back to Les Houches.
Our original belief going into the hike was that if we could make it to the end of Day Four and the Italian city of Courmayeur, then we could do the rest. We still believe this to be true.
There are five major scenic ‘high variants’ to the main route:
- Day One, via the Col Tricot to the Miages and down to Les Contamines
- Day Two, via the Col des Fours to the Vallee des Glaciers
- Day Five, via Mont la Saxe/Col Sapin
- Day Eight, via the Fenetre D’Arpette to Col de la Forclaz
- Day Ten, via Lac Blanc to La Flegere
In addition to the above there are several other variant options available. We strongly advise all hikers to attempt at least two of the high options; more on this below.
There are also several lower ‘bad weather’ options that could be used to skip exposed areas but are most often road walks.
Here’s a day by day breakdown of our eleven Day tour:
Day 1 (Les Houches to Refuge la Truc) HARD
Day 2 (…to Refuge Bonhomme) VERY HARD
Day 3 (…to Rifugio Elisabetta) VERY HARD
Day 4 (…To Courmayeur) HARD
Day 5 (…to Rifugio Bonati) HARD
Day 6 (…to La Fouly) HARD
Day 7 (…to Champex) MODERATE
Day 8 (…to Trient) MODERATELY HARD
Day 9 (…to Tres-La_Champs) VERY HARD
Day 10 (…to La Flegere) VERY HARD
Day 11 (…Return to Les Houches) STRENUOUS
Basically, days 1,2,3,9,10 and 11 were the tough ones. The five in the middle are not that bad.
We did all 100+ miles on foot, but how YOU do the hike is entirely up to you.