Fancy an adventure on the wonderful trails at the foot of Mont Blanc? This 108-kilometre (67 mi) loop begins and ends in the town of Courmayeur, in northwest Italy’s Aosta Valley. With 6,500 metres (21,000 ft) of elevation gain, this eight-stage Collection immerses you in the beautiful landscapes of Val Veny and Val Ferret.
Due to the elevation gain, number of exposed sections, and the possible presence of snowfields, this is a challenging route. You’ll need good mountain skills and fitness to take on this adventure. That said, the trails are classified for hiking, making the route technically accessible. For the most part, the route avoids roads and only briefly passes through public streets near villages.
Courmayeur is located at the foot of Mont Blanc and, being located at an altitude of 1,224 metres (4,000ft), has the honour of being the highest town in Italy. The town became famous in 1786 when two mountaineers from Chamonix, France, conquered the famous Mont Blanc. Since then, Courmayeur has been considered the Italian capital of mountaineering, becoming a favourite destination for mountain lovers. It was also the first Italian town to have a guide company, setting a precedent for its famous hospitality.
Highlights of the route include the traverse between the Col de Youlaz and the Col Chavanne; the descent from the Col de la Seigne to the Elisabetta Refuge and Lake Combal; the panoramic view of Val Ferret between Rifugio Bertone and Rifugio Bonatti; and the beautiful view of Courmayeur from La Suche.
To tackle this walk, I recommend bringing clothing suitable for low temperatures, sturdy shoes and a first aid kit. Since much of the adventure takes place high in the mountains, the climate can change suddenly. Also, remember to bring some light snacks, such as energy bars, for the longer stages. Along the route, you'll find many water fountains where you can fill your water bottle.
The best time to undertake the walk is from mid-June to mid-September when the refuges are open. It’s essential to book overnight stays in advance, as places are limited. Alternatively, you can wild camp, but remember it’s only permitted from dusk to dawn.
The walk starts and ends at the main roundabout in Courmayeur, where the buses arrive. If you’re coming from Italy, you can take a train to Pré-Saint-Didier and then a bus to Courmayeur. If you’re coming from France, you’ll need to go to Chamonix, from where you can take a bus to Courmayeur. If you’re travelling by car, be aware that the historical centre of Courmayeur is a ZTL, controlled by automatic cameras, but there are several car parks nearby.
An important tip is to take cash with you, as many refuges along the route don't accept credit cards.
Enjoy the mountains and have a good walk!
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Last updated: September 1, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
Your adventure begins in the historic center of Courmayeur. The first stage isn't long and doesn't have much positive elevation gain, but despite not being in the high mountains, you already have breathtaking views of the Mont Blanc massif.
Starting from Piazzale Monte Bianco, follow the path that takes…
The second stage of the trek becomes a little more demanding, with an elevation gain of over 1,000 metres. However, the effort will be amply rewarded by the wonderful views offered by the high mountain along the way.
The route begins along the Torrent d'Arpy, crossing a suggestive valley up to the lake…
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The third stage at the foot of Mont Blanc looks like an easier day as it is mostly downhill.
Starting from the Deffeyes Refuge, you continue along the path that passes by two splendid lakes, the Lower Rutor Lake and the Seracchi Lake, both fed by the majestic Rutor glacier.
Continue to descend along the…
The intermediate stage presents a more demanding challenge, both in terms of length and elevation gain. Keep in mind that this stage is largely developed at altitudes above 2,500 metres. I recommend starting the day early to have enough time and arrive calmly.
The route begins with a challenging climb…
The fifth stage of the walk is one of the easiest of the entire route. It is short and has little elevation gain, the perfect moment of rest after the tiring previous stage.
The route begins by following the route of the Tour of Mont Blanc. Descend to just under 2,000 meters to reach Lake Combal, the…
Stage 6 is not difficult and features only one challenging climb. Furthermore, most of the route develops below 2,000 meters of altitude.
After leaving the Maison Vieille Refuge behind, the path descends again towards Val Veny, where the Monte Bianco Refuge welcomes you. Since 1925, Val Veny hosted a…
The penultimate leg of your adventure is once again relatively easy. You will spend half of its 10 kilometers in a gentle climb and the other half will be flat.
After crossing the bridge, take the path which rejoins the balcony in Lechey. At the top of the climb, just above 2,000 meters above sea level…
Here you are at the last stage of your adventure. The final day is of medium difficulty, but the views of Mont Blanc remain impressive even as you approach Courmayeur.
With the Bonatti refuge behind you, take the path that climbs steadily through the Vallone del Malatrà, which will win you over with its…
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