The Best of The Alps—Country Walkers Style!
The Mont Blanc massif is a mountain of legendary proportions. It’s the highest point in Western Europe—with a peak elevation of over 15,000 feet, the Mont Blanc massif contains eleven separate summits and spans three countries. But grand mountain views aren’t all this storied summit has to offer. In fact, there are many reasons it’s considered the ultimate hiking destination.
The Zenith of European Hiking
This spectacular tour through three countries is truly a hiking tour. What’s the difference between hiking and walking, you ask? In this case, hiking means 6-8 hours of steep up- and down-hill climbs each day—with one rest day in the middle. The spectacular 360-degree views at the summits are worth it—but it’s important to do some training beforehand. Make sure you’re comfortable with longer days of steep climbing—up to 2,000 or 3,000 ft elevation gain and loss—on stone and gravel footpaths. “The Mont Blanc circuit is a serious climb,” says Tour Director Katerina Bacevicius. “Country Walkers has done a lot of work to make it as rewarding as possible. And while you won’t do any rock climbing or scrambling over ice, it’s important to bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots, a good day pack, and reliable rain gear.”
Time to Gear Up!
What better excuse for a shopping spree than prepping for the active vacation of a lifetime? It’s important to have the right gear when you hike the Mont Blanc circuit—and also to have enough time to test out your gear and break it in before the trip. “There’s no bad weather, just bad gear,” says Jamen Yeaton-Masi, Country Walkers Vice President of Operations. “With the right gear, you can handle anything the mountain sends your way.” Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Waterproof hiking boots: Your hiking boots will be your best friends on the trail—or your worst enemies. Be sure to get sturdy boots with rugged tread and good ankle and arch supports—shoes and sneakers won’t cut it here. There are many great brands out there. Whichever boot you choose, it’s important to break it in before you travel! We also recommend packing your hiking boots in your carry-on in case your luggage is delayed. While it is easy to borrow or replace hiking gear, your broken-in boots are essential.
- Hiking socks: Hiking socks are almost as important as hiking boots. Cotton tends to hold moisture, so try to avoid cotton socks. Instead, cushioned hiking socks made from moisture-wicking material will keep your feet comfortable and dry on the trail.
- Rain jacket and pants: You never know what the weather will be like in the Alps, and rain and snow squalls can come up suddenly—especially in the high mountain passes. A stout waterproof jacket is an absolute necessity—as well as waterproof pants, gloves, and a rain hat. Remember to also pack a few warm, dry underlayers in case things get cold on the trail.
- Daypack with rain guard:
- When you’re searching for the perfect daypack, you’ll find many options in terms of style, accessories, shoulder straps, hip straps, and pocket design. Packs should be at least 25 liters in volume—big enough to carry your water, rain gear, extra clothing, lunch, and a few personal items. Gender-specific designs, and packs that provide extra air circulation against your back, can also offer an extra layer of comfort. Be sure to get one with a rain guard to ensure those dry layers stay dry in a squall!
We’re All in It Together! Making Friends on the Trail
Hiking the Mont Blanc circuit is not just an achievement—it’s also a social occasion. Depending on the rigors of their chosen route, people might train to climb the Alps for months—or even years! And when they get here, it’s time to celebrate. On the Mont Blanc circuit, you’ll meet fellow hikers from across the globe, united by one ambition—to hike the Alps and emerge victorious. In the evenings, exhausted and exhilarated hikers relax in the rustic settings of high mountain lodges, called refuges or rifugi. In the evenings, you’ll find wooden balconies and cheerful hearths thronging with contented hikers, eager to swap stories from the trail. Meals at rifugi consist of delicious and hearty mountain fare—designed to replenish your energy. As you stride up the trail near supper time, it’s common to catch the scent of fresh baked bread or croissants wafting tantalizingly across the ridge from the ovens of the nearest rifugio.
The Crème de la Crème of Mountain Guides
They say the cream rises to the top—and in the case of Mont Blanc’s superlative guides, this couldn’t be more true! To become a guide on Mont Blanc requires a rigorous certification process administered by the French government through the Centre National de Ski Nordique et de Moyenne Montagne. There, fledgling guides can earn their certification in Nordic skiing, mountain climbing, rescue, safety, and many other alpine disciplines. All Country Walkers Mont Blanc guides are certified alpine guides and know the trails intimately—as well as the local people!
If hiking Mont Blanc is on your bucket list of Big Trip destinations, our Country Walkers Tour Consultants are eager to help! We’ll answer questions, point you in the right direction with optional activities, sight-seeing, or tour extensions that will help you reach your goals. Just a quick call to 855.445.5617 will put you in touch with an expert Tour Consultant who will be happy to help you build a plan that ticks every box.