Really enjoyable trekking with a nice mixture of types of accommodation
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
If you love mountains and get the weather, then all of it is inspirational as the views of the Mont Blanc range and the light on the mountains changes as you walk. Many of the hotel rooms had balconies so even there you are looking at really fantastic scenery, the snowcapped summits set off against brilliant blue skies.Our last day climbing up Le Brevant was a particularly warm sunny day and the views are indeed outstanding. All the treks over the various cols are great as the effort you put in to climb is rewarded by ever improving views of the mountains.
What did you think of your group leader?
Not applicable as this trek was self guided. Theodora Udomritkul at the Exodus office was really helpful and sent us A4 size print outs of the scanned maps in the provided 'Route Notes booklet' as we found the latter too small to read. The local rep Mark we only met briefly in Chamonix the night before starting the trek. He was pleasant and simply ran over the route on the wall map at the hotel plus mentioned some high level alternatives to the prescribed route if the weather was good.
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
(a) Vegetarianism isn't that well catered for at a few of the hotels - for dinner you simply get the meat eater's main course minus the meat. This though is often preceded by a nice salad and vegetable soup so it isn't a big problem - just can be boring. Breakfasts are fine as continental so plenty of yoghurt, bread and cheese. (b) Poles are essential (c) There are high level alternatives that are worth considering if the weather is good. We found the Bovine Route to Champex a bit uninteresting and would have taken the high level alternative if thunderstorms hadn't been forecast. Likewise we very much wanted to do the Col Du Fours variant from Refuge des Mottets but that was a very bad weather day so couldn't. Nonetheless we did enjoy the regular route over Col des Bonhomme via Champieux to Les Contamines though starting from Les Mottets made it a particularly long day. (d) We just bought the ingredients for lunch in local supermarkets - bread, emmental cheese, yoghurt, apple and nuts. Our swiss army knife and plastic spoons/small plastic plates sound ridiculous but were great. We had a small insulated bag to put things in so tended to cater for two days at a time. (e) Didn't use our hydration packs. Found water bottles were enough and useful in the refuges at meal times (f) Best weather forecast site that a climber recommended to us was chamonix-meteo.com. Weather can be quite localised though. (g) At a refuge you take your boots off by the door and put on a pair of the provided clogs/sandals while inside. (h) Look at where you are staying online before you travel and work out the relation of what is said in the Route Notes to the hotel location for each night before you go. Exodus provides you with a print-out of your hotel location for each night but sometimes these directions were unclear.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We don't have anything against group treks having enjoyed several with Exodus but the Tour of Mont Blanc is definitely one that works really well as a self-guided trek. We wouldn't have done it as a guided trek but really enjoyed it as a self-guided trek. We booked quite late so it was great having someone else sort out accommodation and baggage transfer. The start/end Hotel Richemond in Chamonix is terrific- lovely old French charm. Thoroughly recommend the trek.