Mont Blanc mountain elevation

December 13, 2016
Running through the night

Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe, reaches over 15, 770 feet with magnificent valleys of its massif stretching into France, Italy, and Switzerland. Set out on an incredible, 10-day circuit linking these three Alpine countries and explore the famed mountain range that has beckoned climbers for centuries. Discover the snowfields and hanging glaciers that inspired its name “White Mountain.” Cross dramatic mountain passes and trek through pristine meadows and forests, enjoying majestic mountain views at every turn. Along the way, explore charming hamlets steeped in Alpine culture. Each exhilarating day begins and ends in the shadow of one of the most legendary mountains in the world.

Trip Highlights

  • Make a classic circuit of Western Europe’s highest mountain, crossing the borders of France, Italy, and Switzerland on foot.
  • Hike through stunning terrain of mountain passes, verdant meadows, lush forests, and glacial valleys.
  • Discover the charming cultures and delicious cuisines of secluded Alpine villages.
  • Stay in cozy inns perched on the soaring Mont Blanc massif.
Day 1 — Geneva, Switzerland/Chamonix, France

Arrive in Geneva and transfer to our hotel in Chamonix, situated at the foot of Mont Blanc. Explore this famous mountaineering resort, which hosted the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924. Gather this evening for an orientation and welcome dinner.
Grand Hotel des Alpes (D)

Day 2 — Chamonix, France

In 1741, the first tourists to Chamonix were transported to Montenvers on the backs of mules in order to admire the glaciers. Today, most travelers take a bright red cog train up the steep slopes to reach the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), the second-largest glacier in the Alps. We begin our hike from the hotel (3, 300'), crossing the town of Chamonix and entering the forest. We'll ascend a steep trail passing the Blaitiere farm to reach the “Grand Balcon, ” from where we have a fabulous view of the Chamonix Aiguilles towering above us. We'll traverse below these towering peaks toward the Montenvers railway sitting high above the Mer de Glace glacier. After returning to Chamonix by the cog railway, you'll have a free evening to enjoy dinner on your own. (6-8 miles hiking, 5-6 hours, 3, 900' ascent/ 600' descent)
Grand Hotel des Alpes (B, L)

Day 3 — Les Houches/ Les Contamines-Montjoie

After breakfast, transfer to the French village of Les Houches and ride a cable car up to Bellevue, where our hike begins with incredible views of Mont Blanc, the Chamonix valley, and the granite peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges. Begin a steepening ascent through pastures skirting the Bionnassay Glacier and rhododendron fields to Col du Tricot. Here, the pass winds down a wooded hillside to the charming hamlet of Miage, situated on a glacial plain. After a picnic lunch, trek uphill once more before descending to Les Contamines-Montjoie, a picturesque village with traditional chalets.(8 miles hiking, 6 hours, 1, 900' ascent/ 4, 200' descent)
Hotel la Chemenaz (B, L, D)

Day 4 — Les Contamines/Col du Bonhomme

This morning, explore the baroque chapel of Notre Dame de la Gorge, a centuries-old pilgrimage site, and then connect to the ancient Roman route used for centuries by mountain travelers. Hike through evergreens, wildflowers, and the marmot-populated fields of Les Contamines Nature Reserve. After climbing up to the Col du Bonhomme, and Col de la Croix du Bonhomme, we will follow a trail carved by former army troops along a wide ridge that enters the Beaufortin region. Our minivan will meet us at the end of the descent and transfer us to the small town of Bourg St Maurice, an hour away. (10 miles hiking, 7.5 hours 4, 200' ascent/ 3, 000' descent)
Hotel L’Autantic (B, L, D)

Day 5 — Ville des Glaciers/Courmayeur, Italy

This morning we will transfer to the remote Ville des Glaciers, scattered with farms that produce the world-famous Beaufort cheese. Our trail twists uphill to the Col de la Seigne, where we cross into Italy. Take in breathtaking views of the icy southern walls of Mont Blanc. Then hike down to Miage Glacier, which snakes down from the Mont Blanc massif into Val Veni. Transfer by van to Courmayeur, a bustling Alpine town nestled in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta. (10 miles hiking, 6 hours, 2, 300' ascent/ 2, 700' descent)
Hôtel Croux (B, L, D)

Day 6 — Mont de la Saxe

Follow a varied trail through larch forest and Alpine vegetation to Mont de la Saxe and Rifugio Bertone, where we pause to take in sweeping views of the Valle d’Aosta and the Gran Paradiso range beyond. From here, a short, steep ascent leads to a crest overlooking the snow-capped pinnacles of the Mont Blanc massif. Against this stunning backdrop, continue hiking past Rifugio Bonatti, an Alpine hut perched below Grandes Jorasse and its tumbling glaciers to rejoin in 30 minutes the hamlet of Lavachey. (10 miles hiking, 7.5 hours, 2, 500' ascent/ 1, 500' descent)

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