Mont Blanc Walks, by Hilary Sharp
Guidebook to 50 day walks in the Mont Blanc region near Chamonix and Courmayeur, plus outlines of 4 multi-day treks around both sides of the Mont Blanc massif. The walks range from 3km to 20km and cover a variety of terrains from easy valley walks to more challenging routes over boulders, scree and on via ferrata sections.
The 54 walks in this guidebook explore the popular region around Mont Blanc(4808m), the highest mountain in Western Europe, showcasing the very best routes on both the French and the Italian sides of the massif. Includes 50 great day walks from 3 to 20 kilometres and 4 multi-day treks, taking in a variety of terrain including valley footpaths, airy ridges and via ferratas.
Walks are organised according to the nearest town base: St Gervais les Bains and Les Contamines, Servoz and Plateau D'Assy, Les Houches, Chamonix, Argentière and Courmayeur. The multi-day treks are Vallorcine to Plaine Joux, the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges, Vallorcine to Servoz and a circuit of the Italian Val Ferret.
Walks are Graded 1 to 3: grade 1 walks are manageable by any reasonably fit person on good, usually waymarked paths, while grade 3 routes are long, tough routes, often without waymarking, making navigation difficult: there could also be some scrambling. Additionally there is often a valley walk that can be done whatever the weather, or on rest days, with children, by bike, or as a run. All routes feature a detailed route description and mapping and are illustrated with spectacular photography.
The major centres of Chamonix and Courmayeur are often busy with holidaymakers and associated industries: cafés, accommodation, and lifts and signposts... but these valleys have walks equal to anywhere for their views, terrain and variety, with their sublime glaciers plunging towards the valleys, high snowy summits glinting in the sun, flower-bedecked slopes and rocky trails. Be it spring, summer or autumn, the sheer beauty and range of the walking here will satisfy any hiker and there are plenty of facilities for the end of the day.
Walking; trekking; hiking; scrambling; via ferratas; food and drink; mountaineering history
Unsurprisingly, summer is the usual season for walking in the mountains, as its when they tend to benefit from more stable weather conditions: it's also when the huts are open and the lifts are working. So to have maximum choice of walks that's the time to come. This season extends from late June to mid-September and is busiest between 14 July (Bastille Day in France) to 15 August (Assumption). Earlier, in June the weather is often hot and sunny and the days are long, but snow often remains above 2000m or lower, and can seriously interrupt a high level walk, and facilities may be closed, as is also the case in September and October: the chance of snow is far less in autumn, too.
Chamonix; Courmayeur; Ferret; Les Houches; Plaine Joux; Servoz; Vallorcine
Walks are presented as one of three grades:
Grade 1 walks are of a standard that any reasonably fit person can manage, not involving more than about 500m of ascent and/or descent. Paths are good and usually waymarked. Grade 1 walks do not call for more than basic map-reading skills.
Grade 2 walks are usually quite long and involve up to about 1000m ascent and/or descent. Terrain can be rough but paths which are quite good and waymarked.
Grade 3 routes are long, often with no trail or where the path is difficult to find; there could be some scrambling, and there is considerable height gain and loss. These walks should only be undertaken by experienced walkers who have already hiked in the Alps.
54 alpine walks centred around Chamonix, the 'capital of mountaineering' Sublime high-altitude landscapes: glaciers, flower-decked slopes and rocky trails Gastronoic specialities including cheese, chocolate and ice cream Chamonix alpine museum, cable cars and mountain railways for the bad weather days All routes feature a detailed route description and mapping and are illustrated with spectacular photography
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