Packing for the TMB

This is what I brought when I hiked the TMB staying in refuges (no camping). I handwashed at least one or two items of clothing every night (even if it was socks and underwear). I chose a smaller backpack than most because I knew it would help me limit how much I brought. I was […]

TMB Day 1: Domancy to Refuge Nant Borrant (via Bionnassay)

Despite reassurances from the airline that her bags would arrive at first light, we waiting for hours with no sign of it. We also couldn’t get through to anyone at the airport by phone. Later in the morning, Sean did the 2-hour round trip back to the Geneva airport and discovered her bag sitting at […]

TMB Day 2: Nant Borrant to Les Chapieux (Auberge de la Nova)

I woke early after a very restless sleep, and Steph and I went down for breakfast at 6:45 am. The self-service meal, which I would learn to be typical for the TMB, included café au lait, fresh bread, croissants, cereal, and sliced oranges. At the end of breakfast we picked up the packed lunches we […]

TMB Day 3: Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta

Neither Steph nor I will ever forget Day 3 of the TMB. When I booked my vacation for August, I did not expect to be crossing a high mountain pass in a blizzard. But I am filled with pride we did so! The hostess at Refuge de la Nova warned us of heavy rain and […]

TMB Day 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur

After 3 days of clouds and poor visibility, Day 4 dawned with blue skies. This was my last day to hike with Steph, who planned to meet her boyfriend in Courmayeur before heading home. I would continue for the final 6 days on my own.     We left the snow far behind as we […]

TMB Day 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

Day 5 had an emotional start. This was the morning I said goodbye to Steph, with whom I had shared 4 adventure-filled days on the TMB. We were both nervous about me hiking for 6 days on my own. On more than one occasion so far, I had charged off down a trail, brimming with […]

TMB Day 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly

Today I crossed from Italy into Switzerland! The day begin with my usual early breakfast and I left the refuge before 8 am. The trail led across the hill and down into a valley, with gorgeous views of Mont Blanc. I made a brief stop for a coffee and a snack at the Rifugio Elena. […]

TMB Day 7: La Fouly to Champex

Today was a bit of a “rest day” with only 4-5 hours of walking. Only 400-500 metres of altitude gain versus some stages with nearly 2000 metres of climbing. The first part of the day was a pleasant meander through the rolling Swiss Valley,  winding through a few charming villages. For lunch I stopped at […]

TMB Day 8: Champex to Trient

Each TMB stage typically has two or more route choices. Today the “high variant” included the most difficult stage of the trek, the “Fenêtre d’Arpette”. The Fenêtre marks the highest elevation of the entire Tour du Mont Blanc. The guidebook is adamant about not to attempting this route in anything but perfect weather. Almost all […]

TMB Day 9: Trient to Tré la Champ

To my surprise, I woke up able to both bend AND straighten my knees, and ready to tackle my second-to-last day of hiking. With a sunshine in the forecast, I opted for the high variant once again. From Trient a steady 3.5 hour climb led to the Col de Balme, where I said adieu to […]