Having been in lockdown for almost 8 weeks thanks to the global pandemic, it’s safe to say I’m getting itchy feet. I’ll admit, the hours and hours spent poring over archival images taken in beautiful places hasn’t helped but I’m trying to stay inspired. In a bid to look forward, rather than back, I’ve started to plan future trips for when international travel eventually resumes. When that will be, nobody knows. But eventually, we will be able to travel overseas and I’ll be ready.
Just to be clear, I won’t be rushing to travel abroad before it’s safe to do so. Time spent at home has given me a newfound appreciation for the little things found closer to home.
One trip that has been on my radar for a few years now is the TMB. It’s one of the most popular multi-day hikes in Europe, if not the world, and the 170km route passes through France, Italy, and Switzerland.
I recently received a brand new guidebook on the TMB from Vertebrate Publishing which contains everything you need to know about the route. Together with the included map, it’s a super useful tool for planning the trip.
About the TMB
The classic route circumnavigates the Mont Blanc Massif over 170km and 10,000m of vertical gain. Most people will spend 10-11 days on the route walking in a counterclockwise direction but it’s a popular fast-packing route and trail running route – each year, thousands of runners arrive in Chamonix to run the UTMB ultra marathon with the winner usually completing the circuit in 20 hours.
Due to the popularity of the TMB, the route is amazingly serviced with refugios (mountain huts), cafes, and shops along the way. The path itself is well manicured and easy to follow for most of the way which is a blessing and a curse. Personally, I prefer trails that require some navigation and have a wild feel to them. However, after 10 days on the trail, I’m sure signposts and fresh coffee are welcome.
If staying in refugios isn’t your style, you can camp along the way in designated campsites or in the wild when appropriate. When I eventually make it over to Europe to hike the trail I’ll definitely be carrying my tent to camp out. Some of the most beautiful spots along the route deserve to be camped at. None more beautiful than Lacs des Chéserys and the famous reflection.
photo by Simon Hird
When to hike the trail
The best time of year to take on the TMB is between June and Septemeber. The snow will have melted in the high mountain passes and the weather is generally calm and warm over the summer. Be aware that during peak season the trail can be very busy!
I think I’ll aim to hike the trail at the end of Septemeber or early October to avoid the crowds and hopefully get some dreamy autumnal light!