Book with confidence for 2021
(Tour du Mont Blanc) Alpine pastures on the Tour du Mont Blanc
TOUR DU MONT BLANC    11 stages, 2 rest days . 14 nights . French, Italian, and Swiss Alps    Sounds perfect? View our trip!

The Tour du Mont Blanc: A guide to the trek

Walking guides - see all our background pages

Bare facts

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a walking trail in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps making a 180km (112 miles) circuit of Mont Blanc, starting and finishing in Les Houches near Chamonix.

The highest point reached by the standard route is 2,584m (8,478ft) and the height gain (and therefore loss) around the whole Tour is around 10,600m (35,000ft).

Trekkers typically take 11 days to complete the circuit, give or take a day or two.

Best bits

Our clients say...
We ask our TMB clients which stages they enjoyed most. Often the voting is in favour of the two stages above the Chamonix valley from Argentiere to Les Houches. We agree!

With good weather this section reveals the most stunning views of Mont Blanc on the trek, across the deep Arve valley, with the panorama from Le Brevent at 2,525m (8,284ft) being particularly good.

On a typical trek starting in Les Houches, these two stages have the end in sight and the 'home' valley of Chamonix waiting below.

Other highlights
Other stages on the Tour have their own attractions. For calming, pastoral beauty the relatively easy stage from La Fouly to Champex in the Swiss Val Ferret is hard to beat in all of the Swiss Valais region, not just along the Tour du Mont Blanc.

The Italian stages have especially good views of the Mont Blanc range, and in clear weather the views from Col de la Seine, Tete de la Tronche and Grand Col Ferret are exceptional. Jagged snow and rock peaks are ranged along the skyline here, their glaciers tumbling down to the valleys far below.

Photos from trips: Tour du Mont Blanc

Names - a brief note

Tour du Mont Blanc is the proper French name for the trek and is often shortened to TMB or to the Tour when in context. Tour of Mont Blanc would be the English equivalent. Tour de Mont Blanc, the most popular name among English-speakers, isn't quite right. Mont Blanc Tour or Mont Blanc Circuit are readily understood. In Italian it's the Giro di Monte Bianco.

Is it for me?

The joy of trekking
There is great satisfaction in completing stages of a long-distance trek, even more so when it's a famous one like the TMB. There might be times when the climb seems too much effort, and when you encounter bad weather; at such times the goal keeps you going. Equally there should be days when you feel all-powerful, tackling the mountain trails as if they were paths in the park!

One of the best feelings on trek can be nearing the end of a stage, once you're well into the walk, knowing that you've ticked off another leg of the quest. At such points you've also got an evening in a new village to look forward to. Travelling in a self-sufficient manner through the culturally and linguistically diverse terrain of the TMB, this all makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying holiday.

The Tour in Italy: Tete de la Tronche and Mont Blanc, from near Pas entre deux Sauts
TMB in Italy: Tete de la Tronche

Can I manage it?
The TMB is manageable for normal fit mountain walkers who are happy to walk for between 5h and 7h 30m per day along a long-distance trail. It will greatly help your enjoyment of the trek to arrive fit at the start, used to walks of similar distance and height gain to those that you are about to face.

One tough stage for many trekkers is the 21km (13 miles) walk from Les Contamines to Les Chapieux. This involves a total ascent of 1,430m (4,692ft) to cross the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme at 2,479m (8,133ft). The next-toughest stage can be the walk from Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti.

The villages and huts used determine the distances each day, of course, and we book many variations on our schedules according to how our clients want to approach the TMB. If you'd like a fast dash or a trip that minimises the longest days, please contact us to chat about the options.

For those wary of walking the TMB in one go, there are many towns and villages along the route suitable for rest days. Our normal schedule spends a first rest day in Courmayeur, a superb little Italian town, and a second rest day in Argentiere in the Chamonix valley, home to so many outdoor activities.

Of course, the TMB can also be tackled over two holidays each fitting into a week. We offer both the North and the South halves and we enjoy booking these in as excellent trips in their own right.

Long weekends are possible too, as indeed are trips of any length. Please contact us and we'll plan a trek for you over a suitable section of the TMB.

What's it like underfoot?
Underfoot you will experience a variety of tracks and trails on the TMB. Standardly the mountainous sections run on single-track paths that can be rocky in places, sometimes with steps but mostly just the bare earth. Mud is not a problem in the same way as on paths in the UK, for example! Tracks are also common - perhaps gravel forest roads, ski pistes, or rough tracks for vehicles over agricultural land. There are some sections of country lanes, of which much the longest is one 4.5km stretch near les Chapieux.

Swiss and Italian signposts on the Grand Col Ferret
Who to believe? Typical signposts

Is the route obvious?
The TMB is waymarked quite well throughout its length. Waymarks vary between countries, the Swiss signage being the best. However, it is essential for all parties on the TMB to have at least one competent navigator with a map and compass, for those situations where the route is not marked at a turning or where the clouds have closed in. The best maps for the route unfortunately still have mistakes, in a few places superimposing the TMB route along the wrong footpath, and being behind the times with changes to the routing. Our routecards, notes and maps give you all you need to complete the circuit under your own steam.

During each summer season, snow falls on typically two or three or more occasions. It tends to go away equally quickly and tends not to be deep at the altitude of the TMB, but for the time it remains it can make navigation even more challenging. Under a cover of snow, ground features are hidden and reliance on map and compass skills is key.

Is it technically difficult?
The TMB is first and foremost a walk. There is no glacier walking, no via ferrata and no rock climbing. There are however some sections where the path crosses rocky and steep ground. In particular there are three sections on the standard route, all on the two stages above the Chamonix valley, where metal ladders or steps have been installed to make the route easier across rocky ground. The hardest two of these sections can be avoided by alternative routes, but none of them should present problems to regular hillwalkers. Please contact us and we'll be happy to describe these spots in more detail. Your joining notes contain detailed information about likely hazards on the trail.

Unseasonal weather
The typical summer's day in the Alps brings hot sun, perhaps with occasional rain or afternoon storms, but in any case paths that are clear of snow. However, fresh snowfalls occur each summer on a handful of occasions. Most often, these leave a coating of an inch or two on higher passes only, and they disappear in a day or two. However, sometimes the snow stays for longer periods and is deeper. While the TMB should be approached as a summer Alpine trek, with snow quite unlikely, it is wise to know that snow can fall even in summer.

We show this photo in order to be clear what an unseasonally wintry day can mean for the terrain underfoot. This is the TMB under a very light covering of fresh snow. It's falling, and more snow will mean white terrain everywhere.

Snow on the TMB
Snow on the TMB (Photo by Anna Stewart)

When to go?
Our Tour du Mont Blanc season runs from the start of July to the middle of September.

This short season is imposed by the weather: the chance of late-Spring snow patches remaining into late June across the higher passes, and the chance of the weather deteriorating into late September. Because we can't predict the weather for the coming summer, we have to set these dates in advance.

Where to stay

The TMB's accommodation is a major attraction of the route. At various points there are choices of mountain huts, campsites, luxurious hotels, more modest hotels, and auberges with a mix of rooms and dormitories.

Most accommodation is family-run, even in the larger places such as Courmayeur. Our TMB clients often volunteer how much they enjoy the variety of the places we book for them; we aim to give a true experience of the Alps and of the Tour du Mont Blanc. In Chamonix we book as standard our friendly and central hotels, for an unforgettable finish to the trip.

Val Veni in Italy: the Mont Blanc massif on the left and Mont Favre on the right, Mont Chetif ahead
Val Veni and Mont Chetif in Italy

The route

Here's a brief guide to the places and experiences on the TMB, on our normal 11-stage schedule.

Stage One
We start in Les Houches, the village at the foot of the valley not far from Chamonix. (The TMB does not pass through Chamonix itself - all travel details are included in your joining notes.) The first climb, up to Col de Voza at 1,653m (5,423ft), not too bad in the overal scheme of things, but is a tough start. At the col, the main route is a gentle descent to the Montjoie valley through the villages of Bionnassay, le Champel, la Villette, la Gruvaz and Tresse before the final pull up to Les Contamines. A good alternative is the high-level route over Col de Tricot at 2,120m (6,955ft).

Stage Two
From Les Contamines the route plots a course due South. Follow the Torrent le Bon Nant along forest tracks to the famous church of Notre Dame de la Gorge. Here the climbing begins! An initial ascent brings you to the flat upper valley beyond la Rollaz; higher up, pass the Refuge la Balme and complete the main part of the climb, reaching Col du Bonhomme at 2,329m (7,641ft). A traverse round to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme at 2,479m (8,133m) finishes the climbing - relax here to take in the new views to the South over the Beaufortain mountains. All that's left now is a grassy walk downhill to the hamlet of Les Chapieux.

At Col de la Seigne on the French-Italian border
Success at Col de la Seigne

Stage Three
The next stage climbs and then descends to Rifugio Elisabetta. Along the way, the Italian border is crossed at the Col de la Seigne. Start the walk by climbing gently along a lane in the narrow trench of the Vallee des Glaciers, reaching the Refuge des Mottets. The climb to the Col starts here and is not too demanding. Arriving at the Col at 2,516m (8,255ft) the view ahead is of the highest scenic quality. It stretches as far as the Grand Col Ferret, 3 stages away, along the lengths of the Val Veni and Italian Val Ferret. On the left hand side of these valleys is the Mont Blanc massif in all its splendour. Drop down from the col to reach the Rifugio at the lip of the Vallon de la Lee Blanche.

Stage Four
Today's aim is the Italian resort of Courmayeur. Begin by descending towards Val Veni with the huge Glacier du Miage prominent to your left. The TMB takes a high route along the Northern slopes of Mont Favre in order to gain better views of Mont Blanc across the valley. From Col Checroui the TMB descends rapidly down steep ski runs to the village of Dolonne and then Courmayeur itself. Courmayeur is a bustling and lively town with all facilities and a noticeably Italian feel, in contrast to Chamonix and the settlements met on the route so far.

Stage Five
The next stage, which has much climbing, passes Rifugio Bertone on the way to Rifugio Bonatti. Options exist to make this stage easier or harder. A highlight of the day, in fact of the whole Tour, is the traverse of the long grassy ridge of Mont de la Saxe which acts as a lookout for the Mont Blanc range opposite. Cross Col Sapin at 2,436m (7,992ft) and Pas Entre Deux Sauts at 2,524m (8,281ft) before dropping down to the Rifugio. Named after the famous Alpinist Walter Bonatti this is a modern and comfortable hut known for its generous and delicious food. Its position on a grassy shelf opposite the Grandes Jorasses is enough to recommend it!

A donkey on the trail above Val Veni in Italy
A donkey on the trail

Stage Six
Follow the recently re-routed TMB path from Rifugio Bonatti on a traverse of the hillside, before it begins the stiff climb to Grand Col Ferret. Glacier de Pre de Bar dominates the view to the North, flowing down from Mont Dolent on the border of France, Italy and Switzerland. At the Col at 2,537m (8,323ft) the whole of your Italian adventure can be seen, from its start at Col de la Seigne. Now you are in Switzerland. Begin by descending gently to the farm buildings of la Peule, then lower down to the Swiss Val Ferret. Pass the village of Ferret to arrive in La Fouly, a calm village amidst arguably the most charming scenery of the whole trek.

Stage Seven
Wander down-valley past meadows, the river (la Drance de Ferret) and through woods. Walk along the top of a wooded glacial morraine, the Crete de Saleina, arriving soon after at the village of Praz de Fort. Pass les Arlaches and Issert in the valley floor. So far today the route has been gradually downhill. Now start a gentle ascent all the way through woods to Champex and its high position in a saddle between the mountains le Catogne and la Breya. This stage is the easiest and lowest of the Tour, not crossing any passes, but it is full of charm.

Stage Eight
Champex might be hard to leave with its picturesque lake and calming air. The TMB splits into two for the journey to Trient: the main route climbs through woods to the alp of Bovine at 1,987m (6,519m) while the alternative route climbs higher to the Fenetre d'Arpette at 2,665m (8,743ft). Neither route is easy, but the Fenetre route involves high, rocky walking that some will find especially tough. Arrive at Col de la Forclaz directly on the Chamonix-Martigny road, or the quiet Swiss village of Trient in the valley.

Stage Nine
Leaving Trient pass the hamlet of le Peuty and begin the steep climb to Col de Balme at 2,131m (6,991ft). Once at the col the nature of the TMB changes remarkably, for now you are in the realm of Chamonix and all that that entails. The view to Mont Blanc, this time from the French side, is one that will hopefully accompany you for the next two and a half stages. The peaks of the massif will rearrange themselves throughout your walk to Les Houches. Back to the current stage, follow the Tour over the narrow ridge of Aiguillette des Posettes at 2,201m (7,221ft). Descend along the crest to Tre-le-Champ, from which hamlet the views of Aiguille Verte are especially good. From here it is easy to reach Argentiere, the informal centre for the upper Arve valley.

Stage Ten
The next two stages make the link to Les Houches and will see you walking high above the Chamonix valley. Climb from Tre-le-Champ into the Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve, giving one of your best chances to spot ibex (bouquetin) and chamoix. Pass the rock needle of Aiguillette d'Argentiere before climbing up the rocky hillside on ladders. Lac Blanc is a very worthwhile diversion. The climb to this famously scenic lake at 2,532m (7,717ft) can be incorporated into the stage or treated as an out-and-back. Either way, traverse further along the hillside to reach the cable car station at La Flegere. This connects with Les Praz, between Chamonix and Argentiere in the valley below.

The Tour in Italy: the classic TMB sign found stencilled on many rocks
The TMB in Italy: the classic sign

Stage Eleven
Pick up the route at La Flegere and prepare yourself for a very scenic introduction to the day. For about 90 minutes your route takes you across the rocky hillside on an easy path, high above the forests on the North-West side of the Arve valley. Looking up at the hillside from the valley below, you wouldn't think it possible. The route follows the well-known Grand Balcon Sud. Reach the cable cars at Planpraz, connecting to Chamonix, and turn up towards Col de Brevent. Here the GR5 - from Lake Geneva to Nice - joins our route. The link from here to the summit of Le Brevent at 2,525m (8,284ft) is intriguing - it passes through a high rocky hollow and then along the steep hillside with a short section of ladders. The summit viewpoint is perhaps the best position yet from which to look at Mont Blanc, as well as the Col d'Anterne area to the North. The Brevent has a cable car link to Planpraz and Chamonix. The final part of the TMB is now beckoning, down rocky slopes past Refuge de Bellachat and further down into forests, arriving at Les Houches. This is the end of your trek!

The TMB in context

The TMB compared to treks in the UK
Compared to most long-distance routes in the UK, the TMB has lower daily distances but more ascent. On the Coast to Coast route in England, for example, the average stage length is twice as long but most stages do not climb as much. An extra factor is that the TMB's altitude is higher throughout, as it is on most Alpine treks. (The highest point in England is under 1,000m whereas on the TMB even the valleys are around 1,000m!)

The TMB compared to the Walker's Haute Route and AV1
The TMB sits below the Alta Via 1 and the Haute Route in its difficulty. These are three of the classics of Alpine walking. Compared to the AV1, the TMB has more daily distance and elevation gain, but covers generally more hospitable terrain with fewer of the bold mountain settings and the steep drops to the side. The uphill walking tends to come in more concentrated chunks, with typical mornings being spent climbing to a pass, instead of the ascent being spread out during the day. Compared to the Haute Route, the TMB is notably less challenging, because the Haute Route is right at the top end of Alpine walking terrain.

Research 2020

Tim Ayriss at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2020 research on the Tour du Mont Blanc will be led by:
Tim Ayriss in June

Recces 2021

Trips 2020

Alpine Exploratory offers the following holidays based on our Tour du Mont Blanc research:

Tour du Mont Blanc
Tour du Mont Blanc North
Tour du Mont Blanc South
Tour du Mont Blanc Weekend
Tour du Mont Blanc (Guided)
Tour du Mont Blanc North (Guided)
Tour du Mont Blanc South (Guided)

City breaks after trekking

Our Tour du Mont Blanc holidays come with notes on the following cities, in your info pack:

Geneva in Switzerland
Zurich in Switzerland
Bern in Switzerland

City breaks after trekking

Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Tour de Mont Blanc walking holiday

Happy clients

"AE took the time to answer our questions before the trip, and the website coupled with route cards etc were very much in line with our experience when completing the TMB. All the trip notes were of a very high standard and enabled us to relax and enjoy the views!

"We got caught in a snow storm (which was actually good fun!)

"Great last night stay in a fantastic room with balcony looking directly at Mont Blanc and the glacier. Fantastic hotel!

"I'd like to thank AE for organising this fantastic trip. We have enjoyed every minute - walking through some stunning locations, staying at the mountain huts, eating great food and meeting many great people along the way. We'll be recommending both the TMB and AE to our friends and family."

Mr & Mrs Longley, UK
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"Overall, it was a fantastic trip for all of us. The accommodations were fine and as expected. The food was very good throughout the trip. The scenery was wonderful. The weather in mid-to-late July worked out quite well for us; it was not too hot, and only rained during the day on our last day. And it wasn't particularly crowded, either (I had expected worse); there were other people out there, of course, but not so many to take away from the experience."

Michael Winstandley, US
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very well-organised. The leader, Joy, was extremely good. Not only was she knowledgeable about the flora, fauna and geography of the area, but she had the social skills to bind the group together."

Stephen, UK
(Tour du Mont Blanc South guided)

Happy clients

[Easier or harder?] "Same, The level was comfortable, I could have done more but enjoyed time for wine and hanging out each night."

"It was such a pleasure. I will hike with Alpine Exploratory next summer. Simon answered all my questions... Everything was so well organized I can't stop raving about the trip and Alpine Exploratory."

Monica Hunsberger, US
(Tour du Mont Blanc North)

Happy clients

"It was a really great holiday which met or exceeded our expectations and will be remembered for a long time to come!

"We appreciated the freedom to go at our own pace rather than being tied to a group, and having the routecards, maps and pre-booked accommodation was just the level of support we needed to enable us to just go and enjoy it. Besides the superb scenery and walking, the variety of accommodation was also a positive feature - great to enjoy the locations of the huts & auberges etc, punctuated by some nights of welcome luxury in hotels.

"We booked pretty late, and were impressed by the efficient and helpful service. Thank you Alpine Exploratory!"

Peter & Eva, Birmingham
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

Notes on accommodation from friendly TMBers:

(Chamonix) "Fabulous place!! Very friendly and helpful. The best accomodation of the entire trip."

(A refuge) "The accomodations were about like camping (with a bunch of people), but we enjoyed the cammaraderie very much. The food was surprisingly good also."

(Courmayeur) "Another lovely place, fabulous breakfasts and great restaurants in town."

(Another refuge) "I am sure this must be the nicest Refuge there is. We had another great evening here with the guests."

(Champex) "Very nice hotel, enjoyed getting there rather early in the day and having some time off."

Scott and Mindy Mashburn, Dallas Texas
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"Absolutely fabulous little family run hotel."

"Excellent service from Alpine Exploratory."

E Tyler, Australia
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"We had a brilliant time; great itinerary & great service from you."

Diane & Paul, Bath
(Tour du Mont Blanc South)

Happy clients

"So well organised - much appreciated as we had limited time... Just loved whole trip - organisation great!"

Meg and Trish
(Tour du Mont Blanc North)

Happy clients

"Best hotel I have stayed in in Europe - room excellent, the breakfast spread was superb, reception very helpful.

"Your service has been excellent, and has contributed to an excellent holiday... We will recommend your services, and will use you again for some other trekking adventure..."

D McCallum
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"Alpine Exploratory's service could not be faulted - hope to use you again in the future."

A Ward
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"The trip was run very well and Joy, our guide did a wonderful job. The distances were good and the lodgings were very nice.

"It really was a great time and I'd highly recommend the trek and AE to anyone."

Tom Lynott
(Tour du Mont Blanc guided)

Happy clients

"Thoroughly enjoyed the holiday. It seemed like much more than 2 weeks, was hard work but there was a lot of enjoyment packed in.

"We took the higher routes Col de Vosa, no problem, higher route to Courmayeur, Trient glacier higher route. Pole(s) definitely a must as are stout boots.

"One of the nice things about staying in the refuges is that you meet others more easily. We enjoyed travelling with a number of the friends we formed on the route.

"The flora was one of the things I was looking forward to seeing and it was way better than I could have hoped for. Early season is definitely the time to go. Snowy passes are a bonus in my book. Saw Chamois, Ibex and Marmots, not many birds though." .

Andrew & Sue Spilsbury
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"Thorough pack, though I still had a few Qs that were quickly cleared up on email.

"I enjoyed the trip and would recommend both the TMB and Alpine Exploratory. You were patient with my questions and answered them promptly. I first inquired about this trip over a year ago and returned to you this year for this reason.

"I thought the pack and route cards were very good. It was nice having everything organised."

Paul from London
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

[Scenery?] "Fantastic, almost undescribable. Even photos don't do it justice.

"Fantastic, enjoyed it very much. Even the bits when we were tired and physically exhausted were OK due to the lovely walks and scenery.

"I would be very happy to say how pleased we were with your service and how helpful you were when we had to change dates etc. It was great, thank you."

Ken Lindup
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

[Refuge] "A new experience for us, but one we both enjoyed, both for the people we met and for the fabulous views. Food was good and the staff very nice..

"Overall a great trip and the services from you were excellent. The walking was harder than the Coast-to-Coast, but nothing that caused us any problem. The comfier option was a good idea, but having said that, the stay in the refuge was something we really enjoyed for the one night."

Brian and Carolyn
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"The information pack was extremely informative and well set out with the information we needed sent at the right time.

"Had a really good time and really appreciated the support provided when we wanted to change our plans part way through. Whilst we found the huts weren't for us we were glad to have tried them and enjoyed the lunches we had in them and the recommended tarte de myrtilles! We would recommend your company to friends and family."

Helen, UK
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"Trek was enjoyable and Alpine Exploratory was clearly well known by the hotels, making things easy for us at check-in. Route cards were easy to follow and comprehensive. Thanks for helping to make this a very enjoyable trip."

Walmsley family
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Happy clients

"The information was complete in all aspects and made navigating easy.

"The scenery was beyond spectacular. I recently went hiking in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania, and discovered I'd been spoiled by the Alps.

[Favourite stage?] "Not sure I had a favorite, but the end of the stage at Refugio Bonatti had the best scenery of any of the lodgings. We went out after dark and the combination of the stars and the mountain were breathtaking.

[les Chapieux] "First experience with an auberge. We had a good room and the woman who ran the place was charming. Enjoyed dining with others and meeting new people.

"My biggest fear, after getting lost or injured, was that we'd arrive at a lodging tired, dry and hungry and they would not have our reservation. That never happened. Everything on our trip worked out great. Your planning was excellent. Lucy, Simon and Chrissie were very helpful when I needed to change a route."

Dolph Armstrong
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Our 5 big Alpine treks

Here we compare our long Alpine routes:

A week and a half of Alpine trekking from Dobbiaco to Belluno
The AV1 in the Dolomites at Malga Fanes Grande
Distance: About 120km or 75 miles
typically done over 10 stages

Ascent: About 6,650m (22,000ft)

Highest point: Just over 2,750m (9,000ft) and the route spends much time over 2,000m

Terrain: Good mountain paths, some rockier and looser sections, tracks and country lanes

Accommodation: Mostly mountain huts, plus hotels at start and finish

Season: Mid-July to mid-September
Two weeks of Alpine trekking in a circuit from the Chamonix valley
A sign for the Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy
Distance: About 180km or 110 miles
typically done over 11 stages

Ascent: About 10,700m (35,000ft)

Highest point: Just over 2,500m (8,200ft) and the route crosses several passes around 2,500m

Terrain: Good mountain paths, rockier and looser sections, cables and ladders, tracks and country lanes

Accommodation: Hotels, huts and auberges in a varied mix

Season: Early July to mid-September
Two weeks of Alpine trekking from Chamonix to Zermatt
The Lac de Louvie on the Haute Route
Distance: About 200km or 125 miles
typically done over 14 stages

Ascent: About 12,900m (42,300ft)

Highest point: Just under 3,000m (9,800ft) and the route crosses several passes over 2,900m

Terrain: Good mountain paths, rocky and loose sections, wild remote cols, cables/ladders, tracks and lanes

Accommodation: Hotels, huts and auberges in a varied mix

Season: Mid-July to mid-September

Three weeks of Alpine trekking in the Tyrol from St. Johann to St. Anton
Cows graze at the Zireiner See, Adlerweg
Distance: About 387km or 242 miles
typically done over 19 stages

Ascent: About 14,400m (47,240ft)

Highest point: Just over 2,250m (7,380ft) and the route crosses a number of cols above 2,000m

Terrain: Good mountain paths, forest tracks, some rockier and looser sections, tracks and country lanes

Accommodation: Hotels and huts in a varied mix

Season: Early July to mid-September
Three weeks of Alpine trekking across the width of Switzerland
The Lauterbrunnen valley in Switzerland
Distance: About 349km or 219 miles
typically done over 18 stages

Ascent: About 19,960m (65,485ft)

Highest point: Just over 2,800m (9,180ft) and the route crosses three passes above 2,300m

Terrain: Good mountain paths, rocky and steep cols, grassy cols, tracks and country lanes

Accommodation: Good hotels and no huts (but can be added)

Season: Mid-July to mid-September

Conclusion from the table
The Haute Route is substantially the toughest, suitable only for trekkers with particularly solid experience, balance and fitness.

The Via Alpina includes three rocky cols that approach the Haute Route's level of challenge, though the route as a whole is more forgiving. The same applies to the Adlerweg but in its case one col (the Eppzirlerscharte) stands above the rest as very difficult, and it can be skipped by descending and taking the train. The Adlerweg is notable for some long days on wide tracks.

The AV1 is more consistent in its difficulty but is especially demanding of good balance, with steep, rocky and wild situations calling for mountain experience.

The TMB is a superb all-rounder that mixes tough, solid mountain days with gentler ones, allowing trekkers to sample the harder terrain as at the Fenetre d'Arpette (a variant, shared with the Haute Route) while not requiring any extremes.

It's worth noting that each trek has different possible schedules, governing the physical difficulty, and on many days different variants affect the terrain difficulty.

Please ask us any time for more details. Please feel free to describe your walking experience and preferences, and we'll suggest which trek you might enjoy most.

Trek the TMB with Alpine Exploratory

Alpine Exploratory offers three self-guided options for the TMB, plus one guided trip. We're also pleased to book shorter or longer sub-sections of the route according to your available dates. Please contact us to discuss options.

Our self-guided holidays give you what you need to complete the route under your own steam. We book your accommodation in a mix of hotels, huts and auberges and we give you our detailed routecards, the local maps, and lots of notes. Importantly we will advise on the ideal schedule and accommodation to suit your approach to the TMB. As well as the full circuit from Chamonix we offer half-routes which we call North and South. These end and start, respectively, in the roughly half-way resort of Courmayeur.

Our guided trips are similar but give you the benefit of an Alpine Exploratory leader to show the way.

Guided and self-guided holidays - see our full range

Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.
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