TMB Quick Tips

Here are a few helpful hints to keep in mind as you prepare to take on Tour du Mont Blanc:

We found hiking poles to be essential.  We are frequent hikers and do not typically use poles, but in this case, we were happy to have them for stability as we negotiated our way up and down the passes.

We recommend the flexibility and savings provided from packing lunches instead of eating at refuges and in villages.  Supermarkets are plentiful in the small towns, and bread, cheese, meat and snacks are easy to come by and keep well.

The temperature can vary greatly from point to point within a day.  I would often go from long sleeves and a jacket to a tank top and back all within the span of a few hours.  The one item we did not have and greatly wished we did were gloves.  The top of the cols were typically very windy and cold, and my hands would freeze and go numb.

The weight of your pack is important, but don’t let anxiety about its size overrule some amount of relative comfort.  It’s important to have hiking clothes for warm and cool weather, but remember you will also want clothes for the refuges.  Derek considered ditching his sweatpants to reduce weight, but I convinced him to carry them, noting the evenings could be cool.  Ultimately, he was glad he did and wore them several nights.

If you are staying in the dortoirs, I would highly recommend earplugs.  Without a doubt, there will be at least one snorer in the room.  Those without earplugs often found it difficult to get even a few good hours of sleep.



11 thoughts on “TMB Quick Tips

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your blog and pictures. We are exploring the Tour du Mont Blanc as a next adventure. Because we are in our seventies (yikes, how did that happen?!), the connection to Dave and Brenda’s blog was especially helpful. Do you know of any way to contact them (email?) other than through the topicwise link on their site? Thanks for any help you can offer.

    • Thank you, Mary. I’m so glad you’ve found the blog helpful. Should you move forward with doing the TMB (which I hope you do!), I believe you’ll find lots of people along the hike of all ages and backgrounds. It’s really inspiring to see so many different individuals undertaking the same journey. But on to your question. Unfortunately, I’ve never had any contact with Dave and Brenda and I’m not aware of any way to reach them outside of what information is on their blog. If you reach out to them via topicwise, I certainly hope it’s successful!

      • Just checked back and found your reply. Thanks for responding and for the encouragement to pursue the TMB. We completed the 500 mile Camino Frances on our own two years ago without any problems. We are active exercisers and do some hiking here in New England, but remain a bit concerned about the multiple days of steep inclines/declines. As always, we are studying up well on the TMB. At this point, we’re thinking of a self-guided tour which will allow us to move at our own (probably turtle) pace, have our heavier packs transported, and not worry about reservations, etc. as long as we plan carefully. We don’t like to miss out on anything, so hoping to do the entire trip on foot. Pictures of cliff ladders and what appear to be narrow paths with chain holds seem a bit daunting. I know there are ways to avoid these, but I’m hoping they are doable for someone like me who is not fond of heights with sheer drop offs. Can you offer any insight? I’ll try contacting Dave and Brenda through the topicwise link. Was just hoping to avoid it, as the registration and all is cumbersome. Again, thanks for your help and Happy Travels.

      • I believe the chain and ladder portions are confined to a small section of the trek. We didn’t encounter these at all. In fact, of the portion we completed, I wouldn’t characterize any of it as even slightly technical. You are primarily switch-backing up and down saddles along wide pathways. Of course, we concluded our trip in Le Tour, so we did not complete the section from there back to Les Houches. (I cover this a bit in the “Creating Your TMB Itinerary” post.) So, know that you can skip these sections if you want. If you’re dead set on hiking the entire circuit, there may be other options I don’t know about, but otherwise, perhaps you could plan a way to skip that portion. Hope this helps!

      • Hello I’ve just read your blog as me and my partner are going to start a 6 month trip round Europe and the West Coast of Canada and America. I’m really looking forward to planning this section of the trip and I was wondering if you don’t mind telling me how much did you budget for the 10 day hike. Thanks Allan

  2. Hello, I hope I didn’t miss this in your blog but we are hiking the TMB starting at the beginning of September this year. Would you recommend bringing a sleeping bag or just a sleep bag sleeve for the hotel/refugios/etc to reduce the weight we have to carry? From my understanding most places provide a blanket and pillow correct?

  3. Just completed the TMB in 9 days self guided and include a few thoughts for others. Soy,s report is very good as are Solly Bennett,s and Dave and Brenda,s and can be relied upon for tangible facts.
    Self guided is not difficult so long you have maps and compass – in fact hikers on guided tours regretted that choice.

    Hotels are possible for all/most nights if you don’t fancy refuges and bunking in dorms. We stayed at Bonatti and decided never again as we got no sleep and the food was vegetarian.

    Most hikers we met complained about picnic quality. We find lots of places en route to eat at.

    The keV Reynolds guide book is fine for planning but lacks accuracy and detail in places so be certain to have maps with you. Also compare what the book says against other reports and favor the reports for validity and usefulness.

    Best items in our kitchen were: poncho that covers back pack, extra thick socks and boot insoles.

    Tip: travel light as possible. Wash tee shirts and underwear and socks at hotels and hang then over towel rails Tobe dry next morning.

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