Tour du Mont Blanc
Updated on January 7, 2015, by Michael Peberdy
In 2014 my wife and I decided to do the Tour do Mont Blanc. It is an ambitious trail that takes you through many mountain passes during a 170km hike. You cross through three countries and witness some fabulous views along what is often a 10 day hike.
It is no easy hike and the preperation can be just as hard as the walk itself.
There are some invaluable resourses out there that you should read and or buy if you are also looking to do the walk.
http://www.walkingthetmb.com/ - This website has a lot of good information about the walk, some packing list suggestions and links to some local places to buy equipment.
You will also need to buy some 1:25,000 maps. Don't beleive those that say you can do it just with the guide book or that a GPS will be enough. To be safe you really need to have a map, even if it is just as a back up in the bottom of your pack.
The IGN 3630 OTR and IGN 3531 ETR are both laminated maps and between them cover all but the tiniest part of the trail.
The IGN A1 is a 1:50,000 map that also covers the whole trail.
The last of the necesary reading is a copy of Tour of Mont Blanc: Complete Two-way Trekking Guide (Mountain Walking) (Cicerone Guides) which you can purcahse from Amazon or other book providers.
There are many way to do the TMB, be that by tour group with a guide, walking the tour and having your bags ported by car from night to night, taking a tent with you or just doing it in weekend walks through the year. All are rewarding and challenging in their own ways.
For us, we decided to take our tent, everything we might need and carry it the whole way. This was of course challenging and meant we were much slower than many of the people we met along the way (and believe me, you will meet many interesting people), but it gave us the opportunity to camp in some fantastic locations like this spot in the valley below the Refugio Elisabetta Soldini.
There are camp sites and refuges along the way for hot meals, evening drinks and dry places for those nights after a really wet day. Also be prepaired to change your plans and just go with the options avaliable for you. It also pays to check ahead if you intent to stay in some of the refuges. We went in late September and many of them had already closed for the season.
There are too many highlights to put all in one post, you really need to go on this walk for yourself, but you can view some of my photos from the photos from the tmb here.
This walk I also learnt the vertue of poles on these longer and challenging hikes and you can read my post on poles here.
Don't think that this walk is beyond you. You saw many people raning in age from 16 to 80 doing this walk. All it takes is the right amount of preperation and some general fitness and determination. The long nights in the tent or refuge will rejuvenate you for the next day and you will be good to go for each of the days of the walk.
If you would like more information about the places we stayed, the route we followed or further information on our experiance then leave a comment below or reach out to me.
Enjoy your travels and don't worry too much about the ladders at the end. I am scared of heights and managed to do it still.
KLM long haul and Schiphol airport
Updated on October 1, 2013, by Michael Peberdy
Just recently I travelled from Switzerland to South Africa on KLM flying via Schiphol Airport.
I had not heard too many things about KLM and I went with the thought that hearing little about them also means they can not be too bad. On the flight over this was confirmed to me. The airline was neither great nor bad. There was a minimal amount of leg room but it was not cramped. There was an entertainment system with lots of new films but the system was old and the screens small. Likewise, there was food and drink but it was nothing to write home about.
The big upside for KLM was definitely that it always seems to be one of the cheaper companies to fly with and so I am likely to fly with them again.
However, there was one annoying part of the journey because I was flying with KLM and that was Schiphol Airport. While I had normally heard good things about this airport, about the size, the range of shops and ease of movement I found it to be a complete let-down.
I arrived off my European internal flight and was confronted with a huge queue, not enough staff on the passport booths and inadequate signage on how to move to the international side of the airport. This whole process meant that once I got to the other side it was very rushed to get to my connecting flight. Also, it seemed that once in the international side there was not as much choice in the shops.
The airport again proved troublesome when on the way back to Europe I was told I would not be able to bring through the duty free items purchased outside of Europe as they make you go through a new passport control and security check while in the airport coming from an international flight to a European internal flight. And of course this meant that the duty free items were more expensive.
In all though, the flight was relatively pleasant and although the airport was annoying it did not cause any real problems and so I would both fly with KLM and through Schiphol airport again in the future.