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Written by
Sheona Proven
Sheona Proven

Tour du Mont Blanc 2016 Updates

As the Tour du Mont Blanc season begins, we wanted to keep you updated with weather conditions and need to know information. A pre-departure Webinar was hosted on Friday 10th June which covered the most up to date information we had on snow levels, as well as a few of your questions. If you were unable to make the webinar date, it can now be viewed on our YouTube page in its entirety. At the beginning of the season there was a lot more snow than normal, however conditions have been improving day by day. Some of our early season clients have said that conditions have been good and they've had a great time! Here are the up to date conditions, as of the 19th of July: While the snow has disappeared from most parts of the trail, it should be noted that there is still some considerable snow coverage on the Col du Fours route towards the Refuge les Mottets.  This variant should only be followed in good weather conditions and as such it is currently strongly recommended that this route be avoided. Instead, we advise that all walkers follow the standard TMB down into Les Chapieux.  For those staying in Les Mottets there is a shuttle bus that operates between Les Chapieux and the Refuge, the timetables can be found on the following website: http://www.lesarcs.com/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/Horaires_navettes/ete16/horaires_BF_chapieux_ete_2016.pdf As of 7th July: One of our clients has kindly updated us on the Col du Fours path to Mottets: there is lots of snow there at the moment, so they wouldn't recommend it to those who are faint of heart or inexperienced, crampons were unnecessary but trekking poles with snow saucers were a must. They also recommended GPS as the way down on the trail was harder to find. There is an easier alternative to the Col du Fours (following the normal TMB) which we recommend if you are not too sure about doing the tougher variant. As of July 6th: The high temperatures of this beginning of July are progressively by melting snow also at altitude. Nevertheless, the three high passes of the TMB are still partially covered with snow, but the trails are well marked and obvious; however, pay attention especially in the early morning. Pay attention when crossing the streams: the amount of water is significant, so it is sometimes difficult to cross the rivers without getting wet feet, as in the case of the stream between the refuge Les Mottets and the Col de la Seigne. As of July 4th: High temperatures of these days are melting the snow sometimes still present on the paths. At the main passes (Bonhomme, Croix du Bonhomme, Col de la Seigne, Grand Col Ferret) the snowfields are well-marked but we recommend to be careful if you have to walk there early in the morning when the snow is harder. The variant "Fenêtre d'Arpette" begins to be walked: there is still snow on the side Arpette / Champex where we recommend extreme caution when crossing the snow bridges over the waterways. As of July 1st: Focus Italian side: Val Ferret - the bridge over the stream Arminaz (between Bonatti and Bertone refuges) was placed last week, there are still two snowfields along the section Bonatti - Chalet Val Ferret but do not create any major problems (attention do anyway). Among the Chalet Val Ferret and Elena Hut it is recommended to follow the road to avoid the rather steep snowfields that are on the classical path. The ascent to the Grand Col Ferret is still pretty snowy but the track is quite evident. Val Veny - the Col de La Seigne still has a number of snow-covered areas; the Casermetta Espace Mont Blanc is now open to the public. Refuge Lac Blanc have said that there is still snow on the ground but that it is clearing more and more everyday. As of June 26th: The Office de Haute Montagne have said that it is best to avoid Col de Fours at the moment. As of June 15th: In the area Les Contamines - Col du Bonhomme / Croix du Bonhomme (F) there is still a lot of snow on the way from Jovet Plan (1900m). The whole climb to the pass is on snowfields but the track is quite evident. From the Col du Bonhomme to the Refuge de La Croix du Bonhomme you walk in the snow, but the path is well marked; on the contrary, the variant of the Col des Fours is still difficult and not recommended. Remember to get equipped with good boots, crampons and trekking poles. As of June 13th: The TMB begins to be walked regularly but all the passes are still covered with snowy. Boots, gaiters, sticks and crampons are strongly recommended.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

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1. Early season snow/neve In early season (mid-June to mid-July) there will be snow present on the higher passes this can make the route difficult and dangerous in places. There is currently more snow than we would normally expect at this time of year and as of the 8th of June 2016 the official website reported the trail conditions as follows: "The snow on the path of the TMB is still present in considerable quantity above 1800/2000 meters and some area remains difficult to access." The first trekkers began walking along its paths; however, it is strongly recommended to get equipped (crampons necessary and possibly rope and lightweight ice axe). Focus on the French side: The track on the snow has been made, but we strongly recommend proper footwear, crampons and poles! Focus Swiss side: In the area "Alpage de Bovine", the channel on the side of Trient is still covered with snow, it is advisable to get around it from above. At the Grand Col Ferret there is still a lot of snow, be extremely careful and we do not recommend the way to those unfamiliar with the area." You can check the latest trail conditions online here: http://www.autourdumontblanc.com/en/index.cfm/general-conditions.html At this point we expect conditions to be challenging (considerable snow fields) over the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2443m), Col de la Seigne (2516m), Grand Col Ferret (2537m) and Fenetre d' Arpete (2665m). We have spoken to various accommodations this week to get an accurate picture of the snow conditions currently on the mountain: Refuge Lac Blanc (2352m) - Hikers do not need crampons, only gaiters and sticks, some snow on the way as there has been lots of snowfall this year. Rifugio Elisabetta (2195m) - Tuesday was the first day of walking on Col de la Seigne, the snow is beginning to melt. Rifugio Bonatti (2025m) - Snow is all gone, there is no more mud and it is dry. The snow is melting quickly. Hotel du Bois (1007m) - There is still quite a lot of snow above 2000m. Col du Trico (Bellevue side) has got some snow left, however there is no snow left on the Chalet du Truc side. Col du Bonhomme has got snow either side as has Col de la seigne. We would strongly recommend guests wear waterproof shoes and light crampons and poles as back up for crossing the pass. Gite Bon Abri (1400m) - There is snow on high altitude but it is warming up at the moment. Here everything is green with hikers coming every day. robert-loudon-tour-mont-blanc Due to the high levels of snow currently on the trail, we recommend that you take crampons with you and consider an ice axe. Crampons are available to hire from Chamonix (a short bus/train/taxi journey from Les Houches). There are several shops to choose from, we suggest Concept Pro Shop or Snell Sports. Concept Pro: Open 8am - 7pm Tel: +33 4 50 54 21 43 Snell Sports: Open 9am-12pm/2.30pm-7pm Sun-Fri and 9am - 7pm Saturday Tel: +33 4 50 53 02 17 The weather forecast for the next few weeks until our season opens on the 14th of June is generally overcast with rain with temperatures above freezing at the level of the high passes. We expect the snow levels to improve slightly over the next few weeks. We will be monitoring the situation closely. Important: A great deal of care needs to be taken when moving on Neve (Snow), depending on the weather this can be frozen solid or slush and without crampons can be impossible to cross without slipping. It is essential that you make a risk assessment for crossing snow, look below and ask yourself if you slipped how far would you slide & fall? Could a slip or fall cause injury? If in doubt retreat back and descend. Walking poles should be considered essential in early season as they are of considerable help when crossing snowfields. I recommend taking walking gaiters to keep snow out of your boots and feet dry. tour-du-mont-blanc-robert-loudon- 2. Weather & Bad Weather Alternatives Mountain weather can change quickly. Being in the high mountains in severe weather and/or poor visibility needs a good level of navigational skills and mountain sense to be able to safely pass over the cols. It is essential that you check the weather forecast each day, your accommodation should have up to date weather information. We suggest the following excellent online forecasts: Mountain forecast - Mont Blanc (2000m): http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Mont-Blanc/forecasts/2000 Chamonix Meteo 5 Day Forecast: http://chamonix-meteo.com/chamonix-mont-blanc/weather/forecast/morning/5_days_weather_forecast.php Bad Weather alternatives We have compiled a list of bad weather alternatives and alternative transport arrangements for each section of the TMB. If you require further information or have not received the list of alternatives, please get in touch. Some days there will be no alternative route therefore a decision needs to be made whether it is safe to start/continue or to retreat back to low ground and use alternative transport. Aborting the route / Alternative Transport If you make the decision to abort the route on a particular day you will have to take public transport to your next accommodation. Depending on your location this might be complex and require several changes of bus or train. See transport sheet for further information or ask in the tourist office or your accommodation. sophia-lac-blanc 3. Early/late season (June & September) Transfers/shuttles Many of the shuttles and some ski lifts only operate in July and August. The operating dates and times are detailed in your route description. You should either plan for the additional walking time or arrange a taxi, names and numbers of which are detailed in the transport sheet.   4. Trekking & Medical insurance You will need full travel & holiday insurance suitable for a trekking holiday that covers up to 2800m. It is essential that you have the correct insurance in case of a medical emergency on the mountain, as rescue can be costly. The cost of hospitalisation and subsequent care is normally the most expensive part of any accident. It is your responsibility to take out the correct level of insurance and we accept no responsibility for any costs that occur as a result of inadequate insurance. Travellers from the UK and EU should also carry their EHIC card. If you would like to obtain cover for your trip please feel free to contact specialist Insurance Brokers, Campbell Irvine Ltd for a quote by visiting their website or by telephone on 0844 826 2722.

INFORMATION TO MAKE YOUR TRIP RUN SMOOTHLY

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1. Maps, guidebooks, pre-departure information & self guided trips Please ensure that you take your supplied Cicerone Tour du Mont Blanc guidebook, IGN 1:25 000 maps x 2 - St Gervais & Chamonix (which we suggest that you mark the route on prior to starting) and pre-departure information pack with you to the start of your trip. (If you forget these you can purchase the maps in Chamonix)

As this is a self-guided trip there is no briefing on arrival, we offer only telephone support. Please ask any questions at the above webinar or before you leave home. Guide books, route cards, maps and any additional information supplied by us are for guidance only. When undertaking a self-guided trek you are expected to have a good level of navigational and map reading skills and be able to risk assess and make your own judgment to ensure your own and your groups safety. All information is supplied to the best of our knowledge, times and distances quoted are approximate & based on an average walking pace, they do not make allowances for different walking speeds and stop/rest time. All the information provided is intended as a guide and not as a substitute for mountain experience and navigational skills.   2. Baggage Transfer Baggage transfer is an optional extra on this trip. If you have booked baggage transfer it will be indicated as a line on your confirmation invoice. Please check this in advance of travel and contact us immediately if you would like to book baggage transfer for your group. If you have booked baggage transfer leave your bag (maximum of one 15kg bag per person) clearly marked with your name and the name of the lead booker at your hotel before 9:00AM on the first morning you start walking. sophia-tmb 3. Extra baggage storage If you have booked baggage transfer we can store additional baggage and deliver it to your final hotel at no extra charge. Please simply book this with us in advance. If you have NOT booked baggage transfer and would like us to collect your excess baggage, store it for the duration of your trip and deliver it to your final hotel we can do this for a charge of £40 per party. This must be booked with us in advance.   4. Accommodation Your reservation is made under the lead bookers name and Macs Adventure. We do not supply vouchers and you do not need to supply them to the accommodation. Your accommodation is paid in advance and you will need to settle any extras directly with the accommodation. Make sure you carry sufficient cash as not all take card. Should there be a problem with your accommodation please try and resolve it directly and if it cannot be resolved contact us on either our office or out of hours numbers. As all accommodation is booked and paid for in advance we are generally not able to change your reservations during your trip. neil-tmb 5. Start slowly! It takes a few days to acclimatise to walking in the Alps and you will ruin your trip if you have such a demanding day on the first day of walking that you are unable to continue on the more demanding days which follow. On day 2 (day 1 of walking) we strongly recommend that you take the Bellevue Telepherique up out of the valley to Bellevue, which saves an uninteresting and demanding ascent. On day 2 (day 1 of walking) we strongly recommend that you follow the route via Bionnassay. Only the strongest walkers should go via Col de Tricot as this makes it an extremely demanding day.   6. We are here to help If you have any other questions following the webinar please do contact either Sarah (sarah@macsadventure.com ) or Erin (erin.connor@macsadventure.com) our TMB specialists. If you need our assistance during your trip you can contact us during office hours on our French number +33.(0)1.70.70.90.63 or UK number +44 (0)141 530 8886. In case of an out of hours emergency or problem (before 9AM or after 8PM French time Mon - Fri or before 10AM or after 6PM on weekends) that you cannot resolve you can call either of the above numbers and select the emergency option. You will then be transferred to our duty manager mobile. Alternatively you can call the our duty manager directly on +44 (0)7500 718 081. We hope that you will be able to join us for the webinar on Friday, but if we don't speak before you leave, we wish you a wonderful trip.
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