Mont Blanc Encompassed

Mont Blanc Encompassed

Trip Highlights

  • Circumnavigation of Mont Blanc
  • Experiencing the exhilaration of trekking in the European Alps
  • Traversing high passes and walking through three countries
  • Enjoying the culinary specialties such as Raclette
  • Sharing your walking day with a group of like minded travellers

Trip Summary

There is something unique about a circumnavigation of the Mont Blanc massif on foot. Perhaps it is a feeling of exhilaration from being immersed in some of the most beautiful mountain scenery on earth while a quaint village is only a few hours away. Or perhaps it’s the daytime forays where you and your companions tough it out over a glacial pass to descend to your evening accommodation for a nice quiet ‘local red’ to reflect on the days adventures. This is trekking at its most civilized! The route is always inspiring, ambling through flowering meadows, dipping into old oak forests and breaking out above the tree line into high alpine pastures which showcase the snowy peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif. The finishing touch... the opportunity to sample the warm mountain hospitality of the French, Swiss and Italian villages along the way.

Suitability

MODERATE to CHALLENGING – GRADE 4

During this walk you will ascend over 9000 vertical metres - more than the height of Mount Everest. The walking is graded moderate to challenging (4) with daily guided walks of around 5-9 hours, between 8 and 15km and maximum ascents / descents of 1700 metres per day. There are some challenging stages during the walk with steep uphills, descents, and many sections of the trail which require care (eg steep drops, rocky terrain). There are more challenging variant sections of the TMB route which may require climbing ladders for short stages - the guide will use his/her discretion as to groups abilities and weather conditions to determine which route will be taken each day. The accent is on keeping a steady pace with time to stop and take photos (subject to weather conditions and walking pace). You will need a good to excellent level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. It is considered suitable for experienced walkers who are sure footed with a good walking pace. If your pace is slow in mountainous terrain we recommend you book on our Rambler trip. Early in the season (June) you may encounter snow on the passes which may be quite deep and alter the grading of the trip to challenging. At any time during summer, weather conditions may be variable and you should be prepared for all conditions including snow, ice, strong sun and extreme winds.

As with all our moderate to challenging programs, we expect participants to be regular outdoors people, enjoying aerobic sport around four or five times a week over some period of time. Preferably this has been a long term interest but if not, you have set a program of fitness preparation with at least three months lead in time to your trip. The fitter you are for your trip, the more of a holiday it will be. Activities as close to the actual activity on your trip are the best training; in this instance walking with and without a pack. This builds leg strength, aerobic capacity and confidence in your ability to travel comfortably with a pack for extended periods. At the same time, you are also comfortable with the layers you like to wear and footwear. Important note: good quality walking boots with ankle support are a pre-requisite for your participation. Runners or shoes without ankle support are not suitable for the conditions encountered on this walk.

Itinerary

This morning we rendezvous with the group at Les Houches, and have a briefing with our guide before commencing the ‘Tour du Mont Blanc’, the official name for our 10 day walk. The route begins with an ascent to the Voza passage (1653m) and then across the Bionnassay glacier in order to join up with the “knitting pass”, or Col de Tricot (2120m). As we descend into this high mountain pasture area, which is a mesh of fields, we find ourselves in a truly fabulous setting – face to face with the stunning domes of the Miage. Overnight Refuge with shower. 1100m/3609ft ascent, 914m/2999ft descent

Meals:  L,D

Today we will pass by the chalets of Truc and then the pretty village of Contamines-Montjoie. Our route continues along the ancient Roman road that leads us into the beautiful Nature Reserve of Contamines. We make our way through the “Bonhomme” mountain passage and have some fun making our way around Beaufortin and Tyrol, two mountains which form part of the French Alps. Overnight Refuge with shower. 1300m/4265ft ascent, 500m/1640ft descent Spring Variant: Walk to Refuge Nant Borrant (4-6hrs, 660m/2165ft ascent, 550m/1804ft descent)

Meals:  B,L,D

Descending through luscious pastures, there may be opportunities to buy Beaufort cheese from the shepherds. We later pass through the City of the Glaciers (La Ville des Glaciers) – a magnificent place where the green of the pasture is covered-up by the ice. Following a steady ascent we reach the Seigne passage (2516m) where the ruins of a customs hut remind us that we are crossing into Italy. Here there is a first glimpse of the Mont Blanc massif from the southern perspective, and descending to the Vallon de la Lée Blanche, there are good views of the fabulous limestone and snow pyramid of the Grand Combin and the Estelette and Lée Blanche glaciers. In the afternoon we will enter a rocky landscape in stark contrast to the lush pastures of this morning ........welcome to the Mineral Kingdom! Overnight Refuge with shower. 960m/3150ft ascent, 998m/3274ft descent Spring Variant: Walk to Les Chapieux via the Col de Bonhomme (6-7hrs, 1025m/3362ft ascent, 930m/3050ft descent)

Meals:  B,L,D

In the enchanted valley of Veni, the enormous Miage glacier flows down into the beautiful Lake Combal. This is the Italian side of Mont Blanc that is offered to you from a truly beautiful standpoint and is perhaps the most enjoyable on the route. The trail continues along the flat valley floor overlooked by the serrated rock pinnacle of Aiguille Noire de Peuterey (3773m). There are some steep climbs, rewarded by magnificent alpine views, before we arrive in the town of Courmayeur, where you should definitely make the most of the amazingly delicious Italian Gelato (ice cream). Before arriving at the Berthone refuge (1970m) for the nights accommodation, we have a tough but rewarding 2-3 hour ascent. Overnight Refuge with shower. 1100m/3609ft ascent, 1200m/3937ft descent Spring Variant: Walk to La Visaille via the Col de la Seigne (Italian border), bus to Courmayeur (7hrs, 1000m/3280ft ascent, 700m/2300ft descent) Sunday Departures variant: Walk to Courmayeur via Col Checrouit (5-6hrs, +460m, -1560m

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we have a major but scenic crossing to make, with great views over the 'Grandes Jorasses'. We begin by ascending to the flanks of Mont de la Saxe, followed by a steep ascent to a col immediately below the summit of Tete de la Tranche (2584m). From here the southern face of Mont Blanc is really quite spectacular. We will pass through the high mountain pastures of Arminal, Malatra and Arnuva, before climbing up to Elena refuge where there are excellent views to the glacier and mountains beyond. Overnight refuge with shower. 704m/2310ft ascent, 631m/2070ft descent Spring Variant: Walk to Chalet Val Ferret (5-6hrs, 750m/2460ft ascent, 550m/1800ft descent)

Meals:  B,L,D

The sight of the Pré de Bar glacier, (a glacier that boasts a perfect tongue formation), is with us all the way as we make our way to the Grand Col Ferret (2537m), and the whole atmosphere is out of this world, and despite the climb is a very rewarding section of the walk. The col marks the border of Switzerland and Italy and the trail becomes wider and more defined on reaching the border. The ascent from the pass takes you to the valley floor and eventually the charming village of La Fouly. Overnight Hotel with shower. 500m/1640ft, 1000m/3280ft Spring Variant: Walk to La Fouly (6hrs, 750m/2460ft ascent, 1000m/3280ft descent)

Meals:  B,L,D

Although this is most definitely a quieter day, it is also one that brings you into contact with some scenes of amazing natural beauty. Dry meadows, pools of cold, fresh water and chalets that are as black as the small Heren cows that roam about, and are surrounded by flower filled gardens. Swiss village life is all about us and whilst the dramatic scenery of previous days is not as apparent today, it is a chance to experience the wonderful “Valais des homes”. Overnight gîte with shower. 600m/1969ft ascent, 600m/1969ft descent

Meals:  B,L,D

Our group takes the “Fenêtre d'Arpette” (2665m) route, which is a variant on the Tour du Mont Blanc and quite a challenge. The morning’s hike is almost completely uphill and the trail is not as well defined as on previous days but as with many pass crossings on this route, the rewards on a good weather day are extraordinary views, this time across to the Trient Glacier. This ascent will be one of the most memorable moments of the trek! From the pass there is an initially steep ascent before the gradient levels out to the Trient Valley. This evening will be spent in a gîte in Trient with shower. 1100m/3609ft ascent, 1300m/4265ft descent

Meals:  B,L,D

The route we take today is dependent on weather. Usually we make our way to the Col de Balme along a variant of the TMB trail with impressive views of the Glacier du Trient and Glacier des Grande. This route has some small scrambly sections and boulders to navigate but the views make it well worth the effort. Depending on the route taken there may be some short sections on ladders. Alternatively we take the standard trail to the Col de Balme. You should have your cameras at the ready as you are afforded a fabulous view out over the Mont Blanc chain: you will be able to take some impressive pictures of “La Verte”, the Drus and the Needles of Chamonix. Crossing the “Grand Balcon” by the “Aiguilles Rouges”, (or the Red Needles), one is afforded different views out over the Mont Blanc massif. 900m/2952ft ascent, 1000m/3280ft descent

Meals:  B,L,D

In order to reach the Chamonix valley, we take the 'Balcon' path, which looks out onto Mont Blanc. Prepare yourselves to come across many different nationalities here...the linguists amongst you will definitely appreciate it! You will encounter day walkers from Chamonix who have ascended to the path from the Brévent cablecar. The views continue to be inspiring and we will encounter many downhill ski runs as we descend into the valley. We plan to walk into Chamonix in the afternoon at approximately 2pm. Your trek luggage will await your return at the station in Chamonix and you can depart the trip on its collection. If you have stayed in Les Houches before the trip, take the train or free local bus back to Les Houches, where the trip concludes around 3:00pm. 1306m/4285ft descent

Meals:  B,L

What's Included

  • 9 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 9 dinners (does not include drinks) – continental breakfasts are served and usually consist of breads, jams, coffee, tea and juices. Lunch is picnic style. Dinner will consist of 2 or 3 courses which include regional specialities.
  • 9 nights accommodation in mountain refuges/gîte hostels on a dormitory share basis. It is possible to spend 4 nights in a double room, 2 nights quadshare, 3 nights dorm – additional cost applies.
  • Luggage transfer by mule (max 7kgs - early and late season departures use luggage van for transfer (up to 15kgs))
  • Experienced mountain guide
  • Internal transfers by cable car and local bus

What's Not Included

  • Travel to Les Houches and from Chamonix
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Storage of luggage
  • Transfers
  • Travel insurance

Upcoming Travel Dates

Reviews

Overall we enjoyed the experience, we had a tough but enjoyable 10 days.

A, Wijeratne., ACT, Australia


Tour du Mont Blanc is the best multi day hike I have done. The views and wildflowers were wonderful and the scenery stunning. I enjoyed the effort of climbing up and over and the passes and the descent into a different valley surrounded by snowy mountains and glaciers. 5 or 6 hours of walking a day was enjoyable and all the chalets were in stunning locations.

K. Young, Christchurch, New Zealand, 20 Jul 2018


An incredible experience. The scenery is spectacular just about every moment of the day, no matter where you look. Mountains, snow, glaciers, waterfalls, rivers. Fields brimming with flowers, meadows and villages that look like they just leapt out of a childhood fairy tale story. Our guide was amazing. We enjoyed the camaraderie of our fellow hikers. We wanted to linger for days at some of the refuges where we stayed. The food was delicious and of course there was lots of delectable local cheese. Get fit and do it! Most highly recommended.

X. Iona, Annandale, NSW, 26 Jul 2018


I have just done Mont Blanc Encompassed. Most amazing thing I have ever done. The scenery was beautiful. Our guide, Maxim, was incredible. Refuges were excellent, as was the food provided-plentiful & culturally varied. It is a physically challenging walk, so you need to be prepared as you will enjoy it more. If you are looking for something special, this walk is it! UTracks were great to deal with.

S. Howell, Western Australia, 06 Aug 2018


This walk was a tough walk for me due to its level of difficulty, but any challenges were easily and always surpassed by amazing and breath-taking scenery at every turn and over every mountain. I walked into my fitness within a few days so was then able to focus on the scenery and enjoying the company of my travelling companions. We also had the joy and the challenge of being caught up in the UTMB for a few days. I loved the adventure of Day 9, even though initially I was dreading it. Thank you UTracks and a huge thanks the our leader Julian and our mule Picasso.

T. McCullough, Flaxton, QLD, 13 Sep 2018


The Mont Blanc Encompassed trip was excellent. The use of a mule 'Takine' to carry our extra gear between huts added to the hike. Our French guide, Madelaine was first class, value added to the experience and made the trip lots more fun than I expected. She introduced us to the culinary flavours of France, Italy and Switzerland through the local cheeses used for the lunches and the tasty salads she prepared, all different. Madeleine had a ready smile, a great sense of humour, an easy manner and was knowledgeable about all the peaks of the Mont Blanc range and the flora. Madelaine genuinely cared about us and our walking experience. She helped us through niggling injuries and over a high pass almost every day. The trip was physically demanding with 4 tough days in the 10 day hike over 170km in total. This is a classic European mountain hike that you will treasure for life. The views of Mont Blanc superb, the refugio experience builds camaraderie along the trail and the moods of the mountains and glaciers ever-changing. Just do it! Thanks Madelaine; possibly the best guide we have ever encountered and 'keep smiling'.

B. Alston, East Ballina, NSW, 17 Oct 2018


What a wonderful experience my husband and I had doing Mont Blanc Encompassed with UTracks. The hike was breathtaking at every turn and our guide was extremely knowledgeable. Having all meals included meant that we weren’t constantly paying for meals which was wonderful too.

J. Fredericks, Stretton, QLD, 02 Jul 2019


Had a GREAT time!

R. Russell, California, USA, 03 Jul 2019


Sebastian was a very good guide! He paced the group to the slowest person, watched out for them, kept the group together when necessary, checked and tested snow conditions at water crossings and steep slopes, watched/ helped each person cross wet or snowy crossings, was firm with staying with the rules of the use of natural areas, required we pack our whatever we packed in, and had a good ethic while in nature. As an experienced guide myself, I found Sebastian to be friendly, professional, knowledgeable and communicative, was informative without being verbose, and provided good leadership to an older group with some strong personalities. Please give Sebastian my thanks for a job well done!

M. Olwyler, North Fork, CA, USA, 03 Jul 2019


This is not a luxury holiday and you need to be fit, but the rewards are fantastic. This is a beautiful part of the world and is well worth the effort.

J. Bailey., Elwood, VIC. Australia.


I have been to Nepal three times, but I think Mont Blanc would be the best trek so far.We were blessed as we had snow, wild flowers, rock wrapping and step ascents. Lovely weather.Could not find a fault in the trek at all. So perfect!

R Mustey, Holland Park, QLD


Our group leader Nicole was superb. She was informative, supportive and fun.

J Lamb, New Zealand


I cannot compliment our guide Nicole highly enough. She was great! She is a great ambassador for UTRACKS.

D Graham, New Zealand


This was a wonderful experience, we found the scenery was breathtaking, the wildlife very different and interesting, the trek was challenging yet achievable, Nicole, our guide, was incredibly knowledgeable, and the people in our group, great company.

Glenda Oneill, Australia


We have trekked and hiked many places (Nepal, NZ, South America to name a few) and this has been our favourite trek by far. The views of the Mont Blanc massif were just so incredibly stunning and right in your face. Walking through wild flower fields and gravel trodden paths it really is one of the best hikes in the world you will ever do. You don't have to be super fit to do it either although recommended training will help you but we had plenty of rest stops on a couple of the steeper climbs. The refuges where we stayed every night had absolutely unbelievable views to the mountains and beyond. The food was delicious and Max our guide was an absolute champion ! Walking through villages with our red packed mule was a highlight too and highly recommend this trip

P. Lehrke., East Brisbane, QLD. Australia


Can't recommended this trip enough, basically we walk up 1k and down 1k over about 20k every day for 10 days amongst beautiful scenery the views of the Alps are spectacular, and you come home fit.

G. Stephens., Hampton, VIC. Australia

AT A GLANCE

Duration:10 Days
Countries:France, Italy, Switzerland
Starting Point:Chamonix Valley
Finishing Point:Chamonix
Activities:GUIDED WALK
Grade:moderate to challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:MBE
Prices From:GBP£990 Per Person
Please do not book any flights or extra arrangements until such time that your booking is confirmed by Sherpa Expeditions by phone or email.