TMB by MTB 2009 Planning Page

Content

  1. Introduction
  2. Trip itinerary
    1. General
    2. Day 0. Arriving to Chamonix
    3. Day 1. Chamonix - Col de la Forclaz
    4. Day 2. Col de la Forclaz - La Fouly
    5. Day 3. La Fouly - rif. Bonatti
    6. Day 4. rif. Bonatti - Courmayeur
    7. Day 5. Courmayeur - rif. Elizabetta
    8. Day 6. rif. Elizabetta - rif. du Bonhomme
    9. Day 7. rif. du Bonhomme - Chamonix
    10. Trip Summary + Google Earth file
  3. What to take
    1. Dress on + back pack
    2. Suitcase/travel bag
    3. Bike accessories
  4. Expected costs
  5. Resources and useful links

Introduction

The TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc) is a circuit around Mont Blanc (4810m) - the highest peak in Europe. It involves around 170 km with accumulated height gain and loss of around 7500m (depends on exact option selected - see itinerary). Depending on the precise route take there are about 10 mountain passes to cross as the tour progresses from one valley to the next. Each of these valleys enjoys unforgettable views, and each has its own character. Seven valleys, 71 glaciers, 400 summits, the Mont Blanc range fascinates. From Chamonix, France, to Courmayeur, Italy, passing by Martigny, Switzerland, and its wineyards the trail brings us through alpine flowerded pastures, glaciers, snowy summits, climbs high altitude passes and crosses deep valleys. Riding around the Mont Blanc, 4810m, it is discovering the unique and magic world of high mountain: it is a unique experience in a mountain biker's life. The Tour of Mont Blanc is dedicated to bikers not afraid of long climbs or to carry their bike , downhills can be technical in places, but the sceneries are breathtaking and you'll soon forget your pain! Below is a journey map (taken from http://www.alpsmountainbike.com/mountain_biking/Tour_of_Mont_Blanc.php):

Tour Map

We sleep our first night in Chamonix (or area). Next day we leave it and return back as the whole circuit completed. Planned time to comlpete biking part of our trip is 7 days. The itinerary could be changed, primarily because of weather or/and one's physical weakness.... Some parts of the trek could be omitted if we are short on time/strength at some point.We intend to sleep in mountain huts and simple village hotels. We tend to have half-board arrangements to have dinner included. Eating in the middle of the day is possible in numerous huts/restaurants we pass on our way. It should be enough to carry about 2 liters of water as water refill is constantly available (huts/streams). It is important to have some light energy-rich food in a backpack.

Trip Itinerary


General

Trip is scheduled to take place between Sep 3 (Thursday) till Sep 13 (Sunday). Desired flights are with El Al to and from Milan. Expected flight departure on Sep 3 is 7:40AM, expected flight departure on Sep 13 (from Milan) is 10:20PM. The biking itinerary itself is for 7 days. We will need rest of the time as a backup in case of bad weather conditions, tireness etc. We will utilize remaining time (if any) for some hiking after main biking program completed.


Day 0. Sep-3. Arriving to Chamonix


Summary
Taking rental car in Milano Malpensa airport, driving to Chamonix (approx. 3-3.5 hrs)

Sleeping
Many options in Chamonix...
1. Hotel des Lacs. +33-4-50530208. 4 beds room = 93Eu (w/o meal)
2. Hotel Les Lanchers, +33-4-50534719. beds room = 94Eu. Halfboard = 47Eu pp. Selin


Day 1. Sep-4. Chamonix - Col de la Forclaz


Summary
Option 1 (Main). Chamonix - Trient - Col de la Forclaz. Distance: 21.7km. Climb: 1116m. Descend: 1424m. Max Alt: 2196m.
Option 2. Chamonix - rif. Les Grands - Col de la Forclaz. Distance: 24.66. Climb: 1348m. Descend: 1693m. Max Alt: 2251m.

Details
Map could be found here. First section is biking from Chamonix to the village of Le Tour by means of Petit Balcon South and Petit Balcon Nord. Than taking cable car from Le Tour to col de Balme (9:00AM-4:30PM, 16.50Eu, details here). There are 2 options from col de Balme - one is by means of standard TMB route, with a very nice singletrack right from the col. Another one is by means of rif.Les Grands TMB option giving extremely close views of the Trient glacier. This option will include more bike handling/pushing than the first one.

Mid-day eating
Le Tour, Rif. col de Balme, Trient

Sleeping
Col de la Forclaz, Hotel du Col de la Forclaz: +41-27-722-26-88, 42Eu half-board. Sofia. Confirmed

Day Profiles
Day 1 Profile

Day 1 option 2 Profile

Resources
Topographical Map
GPX File for Section 1 (Chamonix - Le Tour)
GPX File for Section 2 / Option 1 (Col de Balme - Trient - Col de la Forclaz)
GPX File for Section 2 / Option 2 (Col de Balme - rif. Les Grands - Col de la Forclaz)
Track Profile Option 1
Track Profile Option 2


Day 2. Sep-5. Col de la Forclaz - La Fouly


Summary
Option 1 (Main). Col de la Forclaz - Alp Bovine - Champex - La Fouly. Distance: 29.7km. Climb: 1853m. Descend: 1740m. Max Alt: 2074m.
Option 2. Col de la Forclaz - La Fontaine - Les Valettes - Champex - La Fouly, 70% by road. Distance: 39.4. Climb: 2278m. Descend: 2173m. Max Alt: 1614m.
Easing option:
1. Sleep in Praz de Fort (the day will end up in about 1100m total climb);
2. Take the road from Issert to La Fouly (600m ascend by road instead of 600m ascend off-road);
3. Take the bus from Issert or Praz de Fort to La Fouly (at 14:13, 16:43 or 18:16 from Issert, timetable here, online here)

Details
Map could be found here. First section is getting from Col de la Forclaz to the lake-side town Champex. This could be achieved by 2 options. The primary one is taking original TMB path through Alp Bovine. This will involve some (may be substantial) amount of bike pushing. Another option is getting main/secondary roads. This will result in more overall ascends.

Mid-day eating
Bovine, Champex, Issert, Praz de Fort

Sleeping

La Fouly, multiple options:
1. Hotel Edelweiss. 37Eu (half-board). +41+27-783-26-21. Confirmed. Kristoph
2. Hotel des Glaciers. 38Eu (half-board). +41-27-783-11-71

Day Profiles
Day 2 Profile

Day 2 option 2 Profile

Resources
Topographical Map
GPX File for Section 1 / Option 1 (Col de la Forclaz - Champex)
GPX File for Section 1 / Option 2 (Col de la Forclaz - Champex by road)
GPX File for Section 2 (Champex - La Fouly)
Track Profile Option 1
Track Profile Option 2


Day 3. Sep-6. La Fouly - rifugio Bonatti


Summary
La Fouly - Ferret - Grand col Ferret - Rif. Elena - rif.Bonatti. Distance: 20.0km. Climb: 1309m. Descend: 886. Max Alt: 2531m.

Easing option:
1. From rif.Elena continue down the valley to Courmayeur (30min) with omitting next day

Details
Map could be found here. First section is 950m climb from La Fouly to Grand col Ferret. It's fully rideable! Than pretty steep descend to rif. Elena. From rif.Elena we are getting down the valley few kilometers to Arnuva where there are 2 options to continue. One (desired) is to go up to rif.Bonatti where to spend night. Another one is to continue down the valley to the town of Courmayeur and fully ignore next day plans... By taking this option total day climb will be limited to 970m.

Mid-day eating
Rif.Elena, Arnuva

Sleeping
Rif. Bonatti. 40Eu (half-board). +39-0165-869055, Confirmed
or in Courmayeur (see Day 4 details)

Day Profiles
Day 3 Profile

Resources
Topographical Map
GPX File for Section 1 (La Fouly - Grand col Ferret - rif.Elena)
GPX File for Section 2 (rif.Elena - rif.Bonatti)
Track Profile


Day 4. Sep-7. rifugio Bonatti - Courmayeur


Summary
rif.Bonatti - col Sapin - Mont de la Saxe - Courmayeur. Distance: 15.9km. Climb: 863m. Descend: 1727m. Max Alt: 2554m.

Easing option:
1. Fully ommit this day by taking Val Ferret option on Day 3
2. Take Val Sapin option from Col Sapin (saves around 150m of climb and 150m of descend, less interesting)

Details
Map could be found here. Although climb/descend statistics do not suggest so this does not promise to be an easy day. There is short but steep section of bike pushing from col Sapin (about 100m climb). The final descend to Courmayeur is also tricky in places. The Mont de la Saxe section of the path is a balcony trail high above Val Ferret and allows to view Grand Jorasses mountain ridge in all it's buity! This day could be fully ommitted by taking alternative option on Day 3.

Mid-day eating
Rif. Bertone (4hrs after start). We will want to take some foods from the breakfast this day as eating options are limited!

Sleeping
Courmayeur. Many-many options...
1. Hotel Svizzero. Room for 5 with half-board. +39-0165-848170. 55Eu pp (half-board). Confirmed

Day Profiles
Day 4 Profile

Resources
Topographical Map
GPX File
Track Profile


Day 5. Sep-8. Courmayeur - rifugio Elizabetta


Summary
Courmayeur - col Checroui - Lac Combal - rif. Elizabetta. Distance: 15.9km. Climb: 1567m. Descend: 614m. Max Alt: 2430m.

Easing option:
1. Take an easier Val Veny option from Courmayeur to rif.Elizabetta - 90% minor road. 1050m ascend.

Details
Map could be found here. This day gives an access to another splendid balcony path. This time above Val Veny. This day, although not an easy one, promises to be one of the most beatiful in terms of views seen...

Mid-day eating
Rif. Maison Vieille (after about 3.5 hrs and 900m ascend)

Sleeping
Rif. Elizabetta. +39-0165-844080. Large dorm (20 people) or small dorm (5 people)/ 40Eu/44Eu pp half-board. Ticiana. Confirmed for large dorm, in waiting list for small dorm

Day Profiles
Day 5 Profile

Resources
Topographical Map
GPX File
Track Profile


Day 6. Sep-9. rifugio Elizabetta - rifugio Bonhomme or rif. du Plan de la Lai


Summary
Option 1 (main). rif. Elizabetta - Les Chapeux - Rif. du Bonhomme. Distance: 23.2km. Climb: 1477m. Descend: 1160m. Max Alt: 2508m.
Option 2. rif. Elizabetta - Les Chapeux - rif. du Plan de la Lai. Distance: 25.3km. Climb: 1056m. Descend: 1349m. Max Alt: 2508m.

Details
Map could be found here. The day starts with climbing Col de la Seigne which is a border between Italy and France. Fantastic views from there onto Mont Blanc. Than we get down by means of singletrack to La Ville des Glaciers and down the valley to Les Chapeux. 2 options to continue from here. One (desired) is to get up to col du Bonhomme where we sleep at Rif. du Bonhomme. The way up should take us about 2 hours (distance is 4km) and will include a lot of bike pushing. But views from the col worth effort! Another option is to get around and go up to Cornet du Roseland. This will add kilometers (and ascend) to the next day but path is much more rideable.

Mid-day eating
Rif. Des Mottets, Les Chapieux

Sleeping
Rif. du Bonhomme or rif. du Plan de la Lai
1. Rif. du Bonhomme. +33-4-79070528. 43Eu half-board. Confirmed
2. Rif. du Plan de la Lai. +33-4-79890778, +33-4-79387225

Day Profiles
Day 6 Option 1 Profile
Day 6 Option 2 Profile

Resources
Topographical Map
GPX File for Section 1 (rif.Elizabetta - Les Chapeux)
GPX File for Section 2 of Option 1(Les Chapeux - col du Bonhomme)
GPX File for Section 2 of Option 2(Les Chapeux - rif. du Plan de la Lai)
Track Profile Option 1
Track Profile Option 2


Day 7. Sep-10. rifugio Bonhomme/du Plan de la Lai - Chamonix


Summary
Option 1 (main). rif. Bonhomme - col du Bonhomme - Les Contamine - Chalet de Miage - St Gervais - train to Chamonix. Distance: 35.7km. Climb: 959m. Descend: 2784m. Max Alt: 2472m.
Option 2. Plan de lal Lai - Les Contamine - St Gervais - train to Chamonix. Distance: 49.6km. Climb: 1523m. Descend: 2765m. Max Alt: 2300m.

Details
Map could be found here. Exact way depends on whether we stay at rif.du Bonhomme or rif. du Plan de la Lai (Day 6 decision). If we make it to rif.du Bonhomme on day 6, this day (#7) will be absolutely fantastic. Otherwise - just good... From Col du Bonhomme - it's one long singletrack down to Les Contamine. From there we take TMB path to chalets de Miage with direct views onto glacier de Miage. It's a fantastically idyllic place! From there we continue to St Gervais La Fayet railway station to take train back to Chamonix (from 15:32 till 20:32, each hour, timetable is here). It will be a longer way if we stay at rif.du Plan de la Lai. If so, we climb Col de la Gitte, than getting down to Col du Joly and further down to Les Contamine. From there it's down the road ride to St Gervais La Fayet railway station.

Mid-day eating
Chalet la Balme, Rif. du Nant Borrant, Les Contamine, Bionnasay

Sleeping
Chamonix, see at the beginning

Day Profiles
Day 7 Option 1 Profile

Day 7 Option 2 Profile

Resources
Topographical Map
GPX File for Option1, Section 1 (rif.Bonhomme - Les Contamin)
GPX File for Option1, Section 2 (Les Contamine - Bionnasay)
GPX File for Option2, Section 1 (rif.du Plan de la Lai - Les Contamine)
GPX File for Option2, Section 2 (Les Contamine - Bionnasay)
GPX File for Section (Bionnasay - St Gervais)
Track Profile Option 1
Track Profile Option 2


Itinerary Summary

Day Distance,km Ascend,m Descend,m Max. Alt,m
Day 1. Chamonix - Col de la Forclaz 21.7 1116 1424 2196
Day 2. Col de la Forclaz - La Fouly 29.7 1853 1740 2074
Day 3. La Fouly - rifugio Bonatti 20.0 1309 886 2531
Day 4. rifugio Bonatti - Courmayeur 15.9 863 1727 2554
Day 5. Courmayeur - rifugio Elizabetta 15.9 1567 614 2430
Day 6. rifugio Elizabetta - rifugio Bonhomme 23.2 1477 1160 2508
Day 7. rifugio Bonhomme - St Gervais 35.7 959 2784 2472
Total 162.1 9144 10335 2554


Whole itinerary profile

Google Earth Whole Trip File (kmz)

What to take


Dress on + back pack


We intend to carry only a light backpack with fundamentally required things.It would be wise to limit backpack weight to 6-8 kg. REMEMBER: those additional kilos will be with you on all long ascends! We don't need any warm sleeping bag (all places provide at least mattress, warm blanket and pillow). The temperature could we well below 10 degrees (Celsius) in the morning and about 20 degrees in the afternoon. Winds could be cold and strong. There are good chances to see rain so we will need some waterproof and windproof clothing. It shouldn't be a problem to wash things at the places we stay nights. Below is recommended checklist of what to dress on/take into a back pack:
  1. Dressing
    1. Underwear. 3 (1 to dress on, 2 into back pack)
    2. Bike shorts/tights - regular. 2-3 (1 to dress on, 1-2 into back pack)
    3. Bike tights - long. 1
    4. Shirt - short sleeved. 2-3 (1 to dress on, 1-2 into back pack)
    5. Shirt - long sleeved. 1
    6. Dry-fit socks. 2-3 (1 to dress on, 1-2 into back pack)
    7. Thermal shirt - long sleeved. 1
    8. Micro flease. 1
    9. Windproof, rainproof jacket. 1
    10. Warming headband. 1
    11. Biking boots - with the sole that would allow to use them as a 50% hiking boots
    12. Protection - both knee and elbows
    13. Light gloves. 1
    14. Full-finger gloves (windproof). 1
  2. Other
    1. Backpack - 25-35 L.
    2. Light sleeping bag liner. 1
    3. Hygienical accessories bag (teath brush, little bottle of soap, little bottle of shampoo)
    4. Toilet paper
    5. First Aid kit. 1 (It would be enough to have one or two for the whole group)
    6. Head Torch. 1
    7. Extra battery pack for the camera (if any)
  3. Foods
    1. Nuts, dried fruits, energy bars


Suitcase/travel bag


We are going to have 2 spare days excluding 2 other days of arrival and departure. This is in case the weather is good enough, we're on time and don't take rest/shortcut days. We intend to have some hiking activities during those 2 spare days after our primary biking program is completed. Hiking program could potentially involve getting to higher altitudes like 4000m. Below is recommended checklist of what to have in the suitcase in order to be prepared for such activities:
  1. Dressing
    1. Underwear. 4
    2. Thermal shirt - long sleeved. 1
    3. Hiking pants. 1-2 (not jeans!)
    4. Hiking boots. 1
    5. Shirt - short sleeved. 3-4
    6. Shirt - long sleeved. 2
    7. Dry-fit socks. 2-3
    8. Flease. 1

Expected Costs

Expense Topic Expected Cost Expected Cost, USD Cost per person, USD
(total 4 people)
Air ticket Tel-Aviv-Milano and back 500 USD 500 500
Car Rental (per group) 750 Eu 1065 266
Gasoline + road toll (per group) 130 Eu 185 46
Tunnel du Mont Blanc Toll (per group) 44Eu x 2 125 31
Biking time accomodations (6 nights) 6x47Eu = 282Eu 400 400
Other time accomodations (4 nights) 4 x 50Eu = 200Eu 285 285
Mid-day meals 10 x 15Eu 215 215
Col de Balme cable car 17 Eu 25 25
St Gervais train 10 Eu 15 15
Total:     1783 USD


Resources and useful links

Similar tour description from "MBMB" (UK): http://www.mbmb.co.uk/3ct.php
Similar tour description from "Alpsmountainbike": http://www.alpsmountainbike.com/mountain_biking/Tour_of_Mont_Blanc.php

Weather forecast @ Chamonix (very good quality): http://chamonix-meteo.com/cham/en/

Photogallery from those places: http://www.mbmb.co.uk/gallery2/index.php
TMB by bike video (alpsmountainbike): http://www.alpsmountainbike.com/mtb/tours_videos.php

Biking tips @ Chamonix site: http://www.chamonix.net/english/mtb/mountain_biking.htm.
Bike Rental Shop @ Chamonix: http://www.zerogchx.com/en/summer-rental-centre/summer-bike-rental