Tour Du Mont Blanc Vs Dolomites: The Ultimate Alpine Choice
Thinking of taking on the majestic Alps for your next hike? Well, with some of the most striking mountains to climb in Europe, you have quite an array to choose from.
To get you started, let’s compare the Tour du Mont Blanc vs Dolomites; which adventure should you tick off your bucket list first?
At Skyhook, we know you want the most out of your trip in the Alps. We will help you make an informed decision and prepare you for the experience of a lifetime.
In this article, we discuss Alta Via 1 vs Tour du Mont Blanc, the two iconic trails that lead around the alpine giants: the Dolomites and Mont Blanc.
Tour du Mont Blanc Overview
Standing at a towering height of 4,807m, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps. While it hasn’t made the Seven Summits list, it’s one of the most technical mountains, and it attracts adventurers and thrill seekers looking to either circumnavigate its wide borders or conquer its summit.
One of the most attractive features of Mont Blanc, or “White Mountain” is its location. It sits pretty on the border of France and Italy, with a considerable section of it reaching Switzerland. A hike on this mountain means you experience the different cultures of these three countries, all on one trip! Sounds like a deal?
Mont Blanc is a beauty to behold, as you’ll see on the approximately 180 km of its trail, the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). With over 40 miles of glacier cover, snow-covered peaks, deep valleys, forests and green vegetation cover, you are in for a visual treat!
The Dolomites Overview
The Dolomites, also known as the “Limestone Mountains” are a range of mountains located on the North Eastern side of Italy, and touching on the Austrian border. On this range, you can explore over 20 different summits with the highest of these, known as Marmolada, standing proudly at 3,343m.
Wondering what all the hype is about this mountain range? Well, first, it’s the sheer beauty of the dolomite mineral that forms the rocks on these mountains.
The Dolomites are one of the major UNESCO heritage sites in Europe, given their unique formation and, you guessed it, the surrounding fauna and flora. The beauty of these mountains is especially evident in the early mornings when the sun illuminates the rocks to reveal a landscape that is simply out of this world.
The Alta Via 1, or High Route 1, is the trail that takes you around The Dolomites. Unlike the TMB, Alta Via 1 is shorter, covering a distance of approximately 120 km. This hiking trail also has a rocky terrain, with loose ground and steep sections.
So, TMB or Alta Via 1? What to Expect.
The trail to take on first depends on your preferences. Some include:
The full Tour du Mont Blanc takes around 10 days, but you can do a highlights version to selected spots on a 4 day trip, and the Alta Via 1 normally takes 9 days to complete.
Depending on your hiking experience and fitness level, you have the option of taking either a guided trip with a reliable company like Skyhook or going on a self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc or Alta Via 1 hike.
Both trails are accessible in summer, that is between June and September when the trails are drier and more trek-friendly. There’s increased visibility on the trails and the mountains, allowing you to enjoy the surrounding scenery better.
Terrain and Difficulty
The trails have similar terrain, with Alta Via 1 offering more consistency in difficulty.
What about TMB’s difficulty level? This trail has a rocky terrain, making it a moderately challenging hike. No exaggerated mountain-climbing gear is necessary as the trek is relatively non-technical. The TMB also offers easy climbing with cable cars and ladders alongside short side tracks and country lanes.
However, you’ll still need to bring in trekking poles and other hiking equipment to help you easily navigate the trail. (For more on what to bring on the Tour du Mont Blanc, see this Tour du Mont Blanc packing list.)
If you are a skiing enthusiast, carry your skis along for an unforgettable sporting experience. As you traverse the three countries the Tour du Mont Blanc touches, you’ll notice Mont Blanc’s spectacular glaciers.
The snow cover here is more is more permanent, meaning you have more skiing chances. There are also quite a few fun things to do in Chamonix town, the tourist town where you start and end your TMB circuit.
Accommodation on both TMB and Alta Via 1 is relatively similar.
You can choose to spend your nights on the various Tour du Blanc refuges or mountain huts on the TMB trails. The Alta Via 1 offers similar accommodations, too.
If you're hiking solo and would like to sample the bivouac option, confirm with the authorities and ensure to camp only in designated areas along either trail.
Hiking the TMB or Alta Via 1 is no feat for the weak as you will be gaining considerable elevation and altitude.