This guide, by mountain professional Hillary Sharp is one I’ve used before, although I must say my main visits to the Mont Blanc region have usually been for Alpine Climbing. I will usually go for a walk when the weather is too poor to climb. I am, however, currently working on my International Mountain Leader qualification so a purely walking visit to the region is most definitely on the cards. The whole area is a great outdoor destination and if you haven’t been before you are missing out on one of Europe’s great travel destination. The area has an abundance of accommodation options to suit every budget, awesome infrastructure and a truly glamourous feel about it (especially the honeypot of Chamonix).
Hillary describes the area with the expert knowledge she has. The introduction section is very well thought out with plenty of information on flora and fauna, getting there, geology and a little bit of history and a detailed section on the all important safety and security.
Mont Blanc Walks is a great little guide and those used to the Cicerone way of presenting guides will not be disappointed. The guide is jammed packed with 50 day excursions throughout the whole range, including Courmayer (if you can stomach the eyewatering fee through the Mt Blanc tunnel). Each walk is graded in difficulty
Each walk has a great amount of detail to help you make a choice about suitability and a detailed up to date description of the hike. There is a basic map (because you are going out on the hike with a map and compass aren’t you!) which shows the direction and all major features. The main description is well detailed with all the information you might need to complete the hike safely as well as pointing out any interesting detours or points of interest.
Most of the walks in the guide range in the difficulty category of 1&2, there are a fair amount of 2-3’s and the fantastic looking Mont Buet via the North Ridge stuck as a hike well worth seeking out for lovers of a something a little more adventurous. Walks ranged in the region of a short, valley stroll of a hour or two – perfect for a late afternoon excursion to work up to an aperitif or a full day out at altitude.
What I like about Cicerone guides is that most guides usually include several multi day treks. Alpine regions are superbly serviced for these with a wealth of comfortable mountain huts that can sometimes be as large as a small hotel, complete with WiFi and TV! The area will be most famous for the Tour de Mont Blanc but not everyone wants a 10 day endurance challenge. The Mont Blanc Walks has four short multi day treks to offer, each 3 or 4 days long and staying in mountain huts. The descriptions are purposefully vague so you can plan for yourself the actual route you want to do if you feel there is something special you want to see. The routes are either circular (as the spectacular Tour du Aiguilles Rouges) or finish at points where a bus connection can be caught. So there is no excuse to get out and have a spectacular night in the mountains.
Mont Blanc Walks is an ideal companion to a holiday in the region, it is well written by someone who is local and has a wealth of knowledge, Hillary has made a great job of the third update. I am definitely excited about going for a visit and one of the short treks is certainly on the cards. I would have liked to have seen a graded list of the routes as that would save a little time when planning a day out but other than that a nice guide that you should definitely pack if you are visiting the area. Now, if you are reading this Hillary can we have an update of the snowshoe guide to the area please.
Available from Cicerone.