Tour du Mont Blanc: Why I’m Doing It
It ’s no secret t hat I LOVE hiking. But here’s a secret : I’ve never done a long dist ance hike.
I’ve done really long 12 hour day hikes with lots of elevation and two- day hikes, but never a long distance hike.
That’s about to change in two days when J.P. (my German husband) and I do the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), a
whopping 160km circuit around the highest peak in Western Europe (4810m). Up and down mountain passes, averaging
20km a day, 1000 m elevation – both up and down for 8 days. It’s recommended to do it in 8- 12 days. I know that 8
days is aggressive for us, but when we booked the tour, I was scheduled to have surgery the day we came back, so it
was either do it quickly or not at all. We choose do it quickly, even though we’re moderately paced hikers, but certainly
not super speedy.
I choose the Tour du Mont Blanc f or several reasons:
It’s on almost every “World’s Best Hikes” list that I found in a Google search
It’s considered one of the finest, if not the finest long distance hike in all of Europe (depending on your source)
The route goes through France, Italy and Switz erland, so you know there will be great food along the way
I knew that it would be a challenge
And t hat last point is t he crux of it all. Why do a long dist ance hike now? Af t er years of hiking, why have I
suddenly become f ixat ed on complet ing a long dist ance t rek?
I’m not usually overly revealing
I’m not usually overly revealing
on this blog (although J.P. who
is much more private than I am
would disagree), but here’s
another secret: I’m not in a
great place at the moment. I
have some medical and
personal challenges going on
that have been extremely
frustrating. I don’t want to
reveal more than that for the
moment, but lets just say that
I’m a take charge kind of gal,
the type of person who makes
lemonade when life gives you
lemons, except for lately, I
haven’t been turning the lemons
into lemonade. They’ve just
This is where the long distance
hike comes in. Hiking is my
solution for pretty much
everything in life. If I have a
problem to solve, I go to the
mountains. If I feel frustrated, I
return from the mountains
feeling less frustrated. If I’m
happy and want to celebrate, I
can think of no better place to
do so from the mountains. On
Th e To u r d u Mo n t B l a n c r o u te
almost every hard hike I’ve
done, there will come a point,
where I’m taking two steps back for every step forward on a seemingly endless pile of scree. I want to give up. I
question whether I can really make it. I want to quit. But I don’t. And the reward for not quitting, besides the mountain top
views is the feeling of empowerment. That you can anything. The feeling of knowing you did something you didn’t think
you could do. That feeling doesn’t just last on the mountain top, it carries over into other parts of your life. Insolvable
problem at work? Remember what you did on the mountain – kept moving forward, no matter how slowly.
So t his is why I have t he sudden urge t o do t he Tour du Mont Blanc: I’m in need of more EMPOWERMENT.
To make some of the frustrations I’m experiencing, a little less frustrating. I am seeking that empowerment that will come
from day after day of wanting to give up, from not wanting to continue because I know it will come and it will flow into
other areas of my life and give me strength to achieve my goals.
J.P. was less excited when I originally proposed the idea. His initial bewildered response was How is getting up earlier
than I normally do and hiking 8 hours a day a holiday? I overcome his objection with Why don’t we buy a GPS honey?
You’ve always wanted one. Seriously, boys and their toys! Problem solved, with the additional promise that for three
days after the trip I will let him sleep as late as he wants and be as laz y as wants. I’ve also been gaining inspiration
from Leigh’s posts on the TMB, like The Best of the Tour du Mont Blanc, one and from Heather’s Day 1 on the Tour du
Mont Blanc. Check them out. They will inspire you!
To u r d u Mo n t B l a n c p h o to co u r te s y o f J R G u i l l a u m i n o n Fl i ckr .
Due to the uncertainty of when I would be having surgery, we ended up booking late, meaning that most of the private
rooms in the refuges (mountain huts) were already booked. As a result, we’re spending most nights in shared
dormitories. I’m not surprised, the trekking season is a short one, but I’m not at all excited about the prospect either. I
compare staying in communal hut rooms to staying in a hostel and my hostel days are long over. But it is a small price
to pay for having the opportunity to do the TMB. I’m beyond grateful that we’re staying at the Hôtel Les Aiglons, Resort &
Spa in Chamonix the day before we depart. It’s a four star harmonious mountain resort at the foot of Midi Summit. It will
be the perfect way to set the scene and get in some last- minute relaxation at their renowned mountain spa, before our
160km trek begins. We finish our trek in Chamonix and will be staying at the contemporary Boutique Hôtel Le Morgane.
We plan to work out all our aches and pains there in the Deep Nature Spa. Knowing this is waiting for me will get me
through the tough parts of our hike.
So can I really do? Can I really complet e t he Tour du Mont Blanc in 8 days? Will I make it ? Despite my recent
negativity, there is no doubt in my mind – OK there’s a little, but not much. I know it will be hard at times. I know I will want
to quit. Heck, there may even be tears (OK likely), but I also know that I will make it. The reward that awaits is too great
not to. But just as a little extra insurance, I’ve published this post as a further incentive – pride.
Wish me luck! I’m going to need it!