This summer has already seen 10 of our teams on the Tour du Mont Blanc trek, and as the spring snows are melting rapidly, the conditions are improving day on day. Above is a photo of our most recent guided trek, approaching the Col du Balme from Switzerland, guided by Kingsley. He reports that the trails are in a good state of repair, but that there are still some easily passible, but significant snow patches around the key high passes of the Col du Bonhomme, Col de la Seigne, and Swiss side of the Grand Col Ferret. There are good tracks over all the snowfields, but he advises they shouldn’t be tackled in the very early morning, when they are more frozen and icy.
The photo above is of the snowy traverse all the way from Col du Bonhomme to the Refuge de la Col du Croix du Bonhomme. Above this, the Col des Fours variation is passable by very experienced trekkers, but the Chapieux route is still preferable. The Fenetre d’Arpette section is still too snowy to be safe, and is taking teams over twice as long as the Bovine route. Other than that, sections affected by landslide last year, such as the approach to the Bovine, are stable and easily passible.
The descent from Col du Tricot to the Chalets du Miages is subject to stonefall, with a lot of easily dislodged debris on the trail. Take extra care if passing this way. All the seasonal bridges, such as across the stream below the Rifugio Elena, have been installed. There are still a couple of areas where extra care is required, crossing the snow bridges over streams on the approach to the French side of the Col de la Seigne, and two snowfields between Arete Mont Favre and Col Checroui, above the Italian Val Ferret.
This photo is of the Col de la Seigne, looking into the Italian Val Veny and with Mont Blanc on the left of the panorama. Currently no groups setting off require any crampons or spikes, and regular walking boots are sufficient. For trail runners doing a recce of the UTMB route, ensure you take running poles to safeguard you on steep snowfields, as trail shoes have far less traction or the ability to make good slash-steps, than walking boots.
In summary, despite the very late Spring snowfalls, the TMB has rapidly come into good condition, allowing trekkers to enjoy one of the finest hikes in the world. It’s still not too late to plan a TMB trek this summer, and we offer both guided and self-guided options.