Saturday, 1 September 2012

History of Tour du Mont Blanc

The Mont Blanc massif from above Verbier

The UTMB is based roughly on the Tour du Mont Blanc, the most popular long walk in Europe which is traversed by 10,000 people each summer. The 170km and 10,000m of ascent are usually completed in 10-12 days although a large number of variations exist.

Back in 1767 Horace Benedict de Saussure and a group of friends, guides, porters and mules circumnavigated the Mont Blanc massive from Chamonix via the Col du Bonhomme, Col de la Seigne, Courmayeur and Grand St Bernard Pass.

A further sixty years passed until JD Forbes, a eminent Professor of Natural Philosophy completed a circuit in 1839. It then grew vastly in popularity during the Victorian era with a number of luxurious and heavily supported expeditions.

Most trekkers will spend the nights in the mountain huts or refuges which dot the landscape. These cover the whole spectrum from accommodation which should be demolished and the guardians retired through to almost four star luxury. The 'chocolate chaud' at the Rif Elena is worthy of a Michelin star.