+ Complete half of the TMB amid immense scenery
+ A logical week's trek in its own right
+ Trek with your International Mountain Leader
Latest news September 2019
Please ask us about a trip. We are now taking bookings for our 2020 season. Thank you!
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a spectacular circuit of Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc (4,808m). This guided trek on the North section is one week long and visits much of the best scenery as a superb shorter trip.
Starting in Courmayeur, your group treks from village to village under its own steam, missing nothing along the way. A typical day starts with a morning's climb to a col, then concludes with an afternoon descent to the next village.
Trek in the company of a fully qualified International Mountain Leader (IML). Each day the group decides its route based on the weather and energy levels; many stages have alternative trails such as that to Lac Blanc in the Aiguilles Rouges. The trip is the full 7-stage route from Courmayeur to Les Houches; this is one stage longer than our self-guided equivalent, letting us break the North and South halves in Courmayeur itself.
The group stays mostly in hotels but with two nights in mountain huts and one night in an auberge. The huts are a special part of the TMB experience.
TMNg Tour du Mont Blanc North (Guided)
7 July to 15 September 2019
Prices in GBP
|Scheduled guided trips|
|Private trips only||
|Private trips only|
|Private guided trips|
1 rest day
Here is our normal schedule of 7 stages:
Arrival day: Arrive in Courmayeur
Your trip starts on arriving at your hotel in Courmayeur. This Italian resort has plenty of good dining for the group and a fine location at the head of the Aosta valley.
Hotel in Courmayeur
Stage 1: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
Red3 grade, 14km with 1720m ascent, 890m descent
Leave Courmayeur on the TMB, trekking directly from town with the goal of Rifugio Bonatti. Today offers a long day over Mont de la Saxe, the longest TMB day and with the most ascent, or the normal TMB route which is a fine traverse of the hillside. The Bonatti hut is an unusually well-equipped and modern building on a terrace opposite the Grandes Jorasses.
Stage 2: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly
Red3 grade, 19km with 970m ascent, 1400m descent
Switzerland beckons today! Our challenge is the Grand Col Ferret, often holding snow, and then a long descent into the Swiss Val Ferret. We cross the linguistic and cultural frontier. Once in the valley we reach the small village of La Fouly.
Hotel in La Fouly
Stage 3: La Fouly to Champex
Red2 grade, 15.5km with 450m ascent, 570m descent
Today's stage is relatively easy for the TMB, running through the valley towards Champex and without any cols to cross. The Tour is now well inside Switzerland, with ready transport links to the Rhone valley to the North instead of deeper into France or Italy to the South. Flower meadows and forests characterise this stage, though interrupted by some narrow sections of path.
Hotel in Champex
Stage 4: Champex to Trient
Red3 grade, 18.5km with 740m ascent, 880m descent
Walk among meadows and woods to Trient, taking the option past Bovine Alp. This is one of the most scenic stages with long views to the Rhone valley. We pass Col de la Forclaz and drop to Trient, now within striking distance of the Chamonix valley. (An alternative at Black grade is the Fenetre d'Arpette, a narrow col crossing with rocky ground either side.)
Auberge in Trient
Stage 5: Trient to Argentiere
Red3 grade, 15km with 1100m ascent, 1160m descent
The highlight of today's walk is reaching the Col de Balme from where there should be views of Mont Blanc (weather permitting) and a great stretch of the Chamonix valley. The end is in sight! Descend from the Col to climb Aiguillette des Posettes before dropping into the Arve valley at Montroc. We detour from the TMB to the busy village of Argenti�re.
Hotel in Argentiere
Stage 6: Argentiere to La Flegere
Red3 grade, 10km with 1140m ascent, 510m descent
We start the Tour du Mont Blanc's final two days with hopefully some exhilarating views to Mont Blanc. The route traverses the hillside on the North side of the valley. We can visit the famously picturesque Lac Blanc with its view of Mont Blanc.
(Special note for 2019: Please see the details below about La Flegere's closure in 2019 and our good options instead.)
Stage 7: La Flegere to Les Houches
Red3 grade, 15.5km with 720m ascent, 1570m descent
The aim today is Les Houches and the end of the Tour du Mont Blanc. Along the way some of the Tour's best views unfold on the climb to Le Br�vent before the long descent to the valley. At Les Houches it is then a short bus ride to Chamonix to celebrate in style! We base your last night in Chamonix, despite it being off the TMB route, in order that you can enjoy the largest and most vibrant base in the valley.
Hotel in Chamonix
Departure day: Depart from Chamonix
Relax over breakfast, see more of Chamonix and depart for Geneva Airport. If embarking on further travels please ask us to advise whether Switzerland and elsewhere in the Alps.
Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.
Refuges du Lac Blanc and de la Flegere 2019
Refuge de la Flegere and the Flegere cable car, which we normally use as the break point of the two stages above Chamonix, will be closed for building works for the whole of Summer 2019.
However, we are pleased that both the Planpraz cable car and Refuge du Lac Blanc will be open for the 2019 season. This gives two options, of which for our guided trips we opt to walk beyond La Flegere to Planpraz and take the Planpraz cable car to Chamonix. The group then stays the night in Chamonix, before re-ascending the next morning to pick up the route. This gives the most even split of stage lengths and is our recommendation.
On a private guided trip it would be possible, as an alternative, to stay at Refuge du Lac Blanc. Please ask us for more details or to discuss the options.
Let us take your bags to each hotel. On the guided TMB North, our normal schedule includes 2 nights in mountain huts, and here your bag goes ahead to your next hotel. Equally there is not too much to carry, so we don't suggest the baggage option is necessary. We give details on what to carry.
If you join us as a private group instead of joining our scheduled treks, then we can adjust your TMB North in various ways.
+ Spend more time over the initial stages, to ease in
+ Shorten the trek to 4 or 5 stages, or add rest days
+ Trek 6 stages like our self-guided trip
+ Favour auberges or huts or up the comfort with our best hotels
Of course, on a private trip you can come on the dates that suit you. Except for the composition of the group and the dates, everything else is the same as on our scheduled TMB Norths.
Tour du Mont Blanc North (Self-guided) - look here for all the options
Why Alpine Exploratory for your guided trek?
We trek the full route, missing nothing
Our plan is to walk every step from Courmayeur to Les Houches, missing nothing out. This is an accomplishment in its own right! Cable cars, buses and trains are available in places, and the group can use them if needed, but the plan is to trek continuously. No part of the TMB is worth cutting out; even the more valley-based sections have huge interest.
Expert knowledge of the route
The same careful research that goes into our self-guided TMBs informs our guided treks too. We keep on top of changes to the route and we place a lot of emphasis on good relations with our hotels and huts. They know us well!
Flexible, personal planning
As per our general ethos, even on our scheduled guided trips we like to be flexible. Single rooms are no problem, except at huts and some auberges where they're unavailable. (The single supplement takes this into account.) If you'd like extra nights in Courmayeur or Chamonix, please just ask us.
Small groups expertly led
Alpine Exploratory follows best practice in the mountains. Our leaders are all International Mountain Leaders and we keep to a maximum group size of 8 clients. The aim is a small, tightly knit group with an engaging leader, trekking the TMB with safety, proficiency and fun.
About us - more about what makes us tick
Our approach to the TMB North
This walking holiday takes you on the Tour du Mont Blanc stages around the Northern side of Mont Blanc, starting in the Italian Val Ferret at Courmayeur and finishing in the Chamonix valley. On the way, you pass through all of the Swiss stages and complete the sections in the Aiguilles rouges above Chamonix, hopefully with some of the best views of Mont Blanc. The terrain means that the walking is slightly easier overall in the Northern half than the Southern half.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a very popular trail in summer and the good solid footpaths reflect this. The terrain in these parts of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps is sometimes steep but mostly the uphill sections are long gradual tests of stamina. There are wide tracks through forests, the odd country lane, zig-zagging hillside paths and some rockier sections. In a small number of places on the trail you meet sections with ladders and other aids to progress. These should not present a problem to regular mountain walkers and are not via ferrata or climbing sections. All such sections can be avoided by following alternative routes given in your routecards. In early or late summer there is a good chance of snow patches lying on the higher paths, but the lower paths are likely to be snow-free.
How to get there
Your holiday starts in the Italian resort of Courmayeur and ends in the major resort of Chamonix in France. The most convenient airport is Geneva and we suggest a minibus or a scenic Swiss train, plus the Chamonix-Courmayeur bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Zurich and Basel airports also work. For Courmayeur it is also feasible to take buses from Turin.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
Key information Summer 2019
Trip name: Tour du Mont Blanc North
Dates Summer 2019
Scheduled trips 2019
Private trips 2019
Please join us any time in our season from
7 July to 15 September 2019
Scheduled trips: Starting 9, 23 July, 6 Aug, 4 Sept
Season: 5 July to 18 September 2020
Research Summer 2019
The Mer de Glace (Photo gallery)
Alpine Exploratory's service
The TMB North in the Alps
Find out more
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Our booking form to get things started: