In 2012 I had the pleasure of reporting from The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc following The North Face athlete Jez Bragg around the course as he attempted to repeat his 2010 win. (Link to blog). In 2013 I'll be back but to attempt the CCC, a shorter version of the main event featuring a 100km route from Courmayer to Chamonix via Champex with 5950m of ascent

Friday, 31 August 2012

History of the 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.

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