Category Archives: Hiking

Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) camping – packing/kit list

I have received a lot of messages asking if I’ll share my packing list for the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) hike, so here it is: Continue reading

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Fastpack Tour du Mont Blanc – 180km, 11,000m ascent, 5.5 days

The Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc (UTMB) is one of the world’s best known ultras, and one I dream of entering. For now a 100 mile race is beyond me, but I still wanted a taste of the UTMB…

So instead of racing, with my running buddy Bo, we fastpacked the Tour du Mont Blanc trail, setting off from Chamonix where we watched the start and some of the finishers of this year’s UTMB.
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A promise of the mountains from Chamonix centre at the UTMB start line

Day 1 – Chamonix – Les Houches – Les Contamines (France)
A day of two halves – spectacular views of glaciers from the Brevent (2526m), followed by an exhausting and seemingly never ending descent into Les Houches (1007m). 

Continue reading

Trolltunga hiking guide – Odda, Norway

Trolltunga, or the Troll’s Tongue, is a spectacular natural rock formation hanging 700m above the ground. It’s one of Norway’s most iconic locations, only accessible via a 22km hike out and back with 1,400m ascent and descent. You can hike it in one big day, or wild camp as part of a multi day hike. Continue reading

Tour du Mont Blanc camping: your TMB questions answered

I’m often contacted by people preparing to hike and camp the Tour du Mont Blanc asking questions about my TMB experience. It’s great to hear from everyone and I’m glad you’ve found my Guide to Campsites on the TMB helpful. This post is a summary of the questions I get asked most often. I hope this is useful, please feel free to comment with more questions or advice! Continue reading

Tour du Mont Blanc – solo hiking and camping trip highlights, July 2015

In July I solo hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc, camping along the way. It was physically the hardest thing I’ve done so far, involving 9 days of sustained effort to carry all my camping gear through three countries, over 170km, and up and down 10,000m of accumulated ascent/descent.

It was also one of the most rewarding experiences, with incredible views, physical and mental obstacles overcome, and many lessons learned. Here are a few of the highlights of my trip: Continue reading

Tour du Mont Blanc camping: A guide to campsites on the route of the TMB

I hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc over nine days in July 2015, camping every night, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I was able to stay outdoors rather than the shared dorms of the Refuges. As there is no pre booking I had more flexibility about the distance and route I covered each day, the cost was lower, and it was satisfying to feel totally self-supported. Unexpectedly though, finding the campsites at the end of a long day was one of the most stressful elements of the trip for me.

I used the Cicerone guidebook, which is aimed at walkers staying in Refuges on the route, but I found that it didn’t provide adequate information for me. Some campsites were a little off the standard route of the TMB, meaning that I had to walk further at the end of the day on a route not described in the guide. In some cases it was necessary to extend the day described in the book to reach the next place to camp. These are not real problems, but I would recommend a little extra planning to supplement the guide.

Here is the information I wish I’d had for the route I followed (all prices are for one person, one tent, one night): Continue reading

Ultralight backpacking – what are the essentials…?

The first ‘proper’ scramble I did was Pinnacle Ridge on the Scottish Isle of Skye. It’s an 11km hike involving easy rock climbing and an abseil over 6 Pinnacles on the Cuillin Ridge. It reaches a high point on the summit of Scurr Nan Gillean, a Munro with a height of 964m (3162 feet). I’d never done anything like it before. I didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare, and I carried all sorts in my bag including, for some reason, flip flops.

On the summit of Sgurr Nan Gillean with Castle Mountaineering Club and flip flops...

On the summit of Sgurr Nan Gillean with Castle Mountaineering Club and flip flops…

As I gained more experience, I learned to focus on what is fundamentally important, the basics of survival – warmth, water, and food. Anything beyond that becomes a luxury. Continue reading