La Tour du Mont Blanc: Hiking France, Switzerland and Italy
Mont Blanc is the highest in the Alps. This hike is epic and short. It takes only 10-14 days to complete the circle. During this time, you will cross into Italy, Switzerland and France. You will encounter truly some of this planet's most awesome sites and you will experience some of its world class cheese. The hike takes to you to the alpine elevations around the rim of the Alps. You will experience climatic extremes even in the summer months as you climb and descend the valleys and mountains. The hike is 105 miles, so if you ave 11+ miles daily, you can make the round trip within 12-14 days.
Most hikers begin at Les Houches, France and walk clockwise to Italy, that comes into view near Col de la Seigne, a high pass. From this point, the hike is mostly downhill leading to Courmayeur, a ski resort. Mt. Blanc towers over the region like a mighty God or king. As you hike, you eventually cross into Switzerland at Val Ferret. Here, the hike is generally flat leading to the lake resort of Champex. From here to Les Houches, the hike is up and down.
From France, it takes about 6-7 days to reach Italy. Switzerland can be reached in 9 days and back in France within 11-12 days. While the whole hike is scenic beyond belief, the areas when entering Italy and La Fouly are the best of the best with glaciers, valleys, flowers, towering mountains off in the vista.
The best time is of course, summer, which for this area is July-Sept. August being the most recommended. Les Houches, from where you start is a two hour ride from the Geneva Airport. If you are not camping, there are small inns and taverns to stay at along the way. Most hikers backpack will be around 25 lbs. The key element in the hike is stay on the beaten path. Avoid what appears to be short cuts. Daily distances range from 9 to 20 kilometers per day, with distances of 16 to 18 kilometers per day being typical. The daily range in altitude gain and loss is 1200 ft. to 4000 ft. with typical days being 2400 ft+. This is not a technical hike but the terrain is rough in places. Thus, wear good hiker boots and layered clothing for warm days and cool\cold nights.