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NEW TREK FOR 2020! - Dolomites Alta Via 1 and the The Annapurna Circuit

Frequently Asked Questions

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WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

If you have any questions or concerns about participating in one of our treks either guided or self-guided, please give us a call or send us an email. Alternatively, take a look at the questions below which are frequently asked by our clients.

DO I NEED SPECIALIST EQUIPMENT?

Footwear needs to be supportive and with a good grip as the terrain can be variable, rocky, steep & loose. Boots are recommended, but there are currently some very good summer walking shoes available, which can be more comfortable on hot summer days. Trainers are definitely not recommended as paths can be uneven & having ankle support is beneficial.

A Gortex (or similar) jacket & trousers Waterproofs are essential and need to be lightweight & breathable & they need to be carried at all times even with a good forecast. A range of warm layers depending on the conditions and gloves & warm hat as conditions can change rapidly.

We suggest that a layering system so you can easily regulate your body temperature whilst ascending or descending. Take a look at our kit list to help you pack for your trek & if you require any additional information please get in touch.

DO I NEED WALKING POLES?

Lightweight poles are heavily recommended by us, they are particularly beneficial for downhill sections, which can be both tiring and wearing on the knees. They are also a benefit for keeping balance etc. on other difficult sections or whilst traversing snow patches in early season.

HOW HARD IS THE TREK?

We grade our treks from 1 to 10 (1-5 being relatively easy & 6-10 being strenuous, tough & extremely hard), each trek receives a grade depending on the difficulty of terrain and numbers of days of sustained trekking.

To explain in more detail:

GRADE 3 RELAXED: Chamonix Valley Walks: General walking fitness on flat & easy terrain, no previous walking experience required. All the trails will be flat with no elevation or descent, walking distances can vary between 6- 14 kilometers depending on the route.

GRADE 4 VIGOROUS: Chamonix Middle Mountain Treks: A reasonable level of fitness is required for example; at home, you do regular exercise each week. During the day walks you will experience a degree of height gain & descent in addition to a distance of between 12-18 kilometers each day. Hill walking experience is advisable so you have knowledge of what it takes to walk in the mountains.

GRADE 5/6 TOUGH: Chamonix Iconic High Mountain Treks: These treks are tough & a good level of fitness needed before you arrive. The height gain & descent are in the region of + or – 800 meters per day without a break. The terrain is difficult at times with steep & rocky ascents & descents.

GRADE 7 CHALLENGING: Tour du Mont Blanc, Tour du Monte Rose & Tour of the Vanoise: These treks are challenging & a good level of fitness needed before you arrive. The height gain & descent are in the region of + or – 1200 meters per day without a break. The terrain is difficult at times with steep & rocky ascents & descents.

GRADE 8 STRENUOUS & DEMANDING: Walkers Haute Route: This is a strenuous & demanding trek that requires an high level of fitness and stamina for long mountain days. You need to have plenty of mountain walking experience & exercise on a regular basis. Each day the trek has continued and substantial height gain and decent of over + or -1500 m per day without a break. The terrain is difficult at times with steep & rocky ascents & descents.

GRADE 9 TECHNICAL & EXTREME: The Traverse of the Grand Paradis (AV2): This is the most physically demanding trek we offer & an excellent level of fitness is required for the type of terrain you will encounter on this trek & previous mountain trekking experience is essential. Each day the trek has continued and substantial height gain and decent of over + or -1500 m per day without a break. You will trek to an altitude of over 3000 meters & the terrain is remote, exposed & difficult at times with steep & rocky ascents & descents.

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO TREK?

With regards to dates I wouldn't advise commencing the tour before mid June for the Tour du Mont Blanc & mid July for the Haute Route & Gran Paradiso, before then there tends to be a lot of snow left around from the winter season, which makes each day harder and more tiring. All transport including cable cars, buses etc. are operational by the end of June. As it very much depends on the amount of snow we have had in the winter each year then please enquire for more current route information for the forthcoming season.

WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?

In a word, changeable! The area in the Alps around Mont Blanc has its own micro-climate and during our trekking period we at MBT will experience all types of weather (sometimes in one day!). You need to be prepared for cold & wet weather & carry the essentials at all times. You also need to be prepared for high temperatures, with a high factor SUNSCREEN, sunglasses and head shade for those scorching days with breath taking views.

Average valley temperatures for Chamonix at 1100m, allow for temperature drop for altitude gain as the Cols at 2500m will be significantly cooler.

June-July
Min +7°C / +9°C
Max +20°C /+24°C

August- September
Min +8°C / +6°C
Max +22°C /+18°C

CAN I GET CLOTHES WASHED EN-ROUTE?

Some of the hotels offer a laundry service for example the hotel in Courmayeur does offer this service at the half way point on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Our recommendation is that you take suitable clothing that can be washed by hand and that will dry quickly.

CAN I GET A MOBILE PHONE SIGNAL?

There is fairly good coverage in most of the main towns and villages. You will pass through various countries, France, Italy, Switzerland, so it may well be worth contacting your service provider before you leave home, in order to see how to get the best deal. There is no coverage on the section between Col du Bonhomme & Col du Seigne on the Tour du Mont Blanc and from the Cabane du Mont Fort to Arolla on the Walkers Haute Route.

CAN I GET A MOBILE PHONE SIGNAL?

Virtually all our hotels have Wi-Fi and in most of them it is free. You may be charged on the odd evening depending on the hotel. Wi-Fi is not available in any of the mountain refuges.

WILL I NEED TO CARRY MY OWN GEAR?

You do not necessarily need to carry all the equipment you need for the whole trek, as we do offer, for an extra charge a bag transfer facility for the bulk of your kit. You will need a suitable rucksack to accommodate your daily clothing/equipment, your food and drink and any other items you wish to have with you during the day. On ALL our treks it is necessary on some days to carry over night equipment when we are required to stay in refuge accommodations that have no vehicular access or are particularly remote, and as a result the baggage transfer team cannot get to you.

See our Bag Transfer page for further information on this service.

WHAT FOOD IS INCLUDED?

On all of our treks guided or self-guided breakfast will be provided each day, 3 course evening meal is also provided on all nights apart from your first & last night, please see individual trek information for further clarification.

When trekking on the Tour du Mont Blanc or the Walkers Haute Route you will be trekking through 2 or 3 countries, France, Italy & Switzerland and each county has its own specialities.

Breakfast: This varies depending on accommodation, some locations are more basic than others. But you can expect at least cereal, milk, break & jam. When staying in hotels they will offer a more substantial breakfast including yogurt, cheeses, cold meats, eggs & pastries.

Picnic lunch: This is not included & you will need to purchase a picnic to carry with you each day. This can be bought from local bakeries or supermarkets or when staying in more remote locations it can be ordered from the refuge on the night of arrival. Allow approx. 10 euros each day for your picnic. Make sure you take plenty with you, don’t reply on stopping for lunch en-route although on some days this will be possible it’s always good to have your own provisions in case the refuge or café is closed or very busy.

Evening meal: when on the trek, this is provided & will consist of 3 courses, typically you will have soup or a salad for the starter, meat or vegetarian option for the main course and a dessert or cheese.

WHAT IF I HAVE DIETARY REQUIREMENTS?

If you have any specific dietary requirements you must let us know at the time of booking & then we will inform each accommodation so they are prepared. It is advisable to remind them on arrival as they have many many guests each day & sometimes requests do get overlooked.

The accommodations we use will do their best to accommodate specific requests however it is advisable if you are lactose or gluten free to carry additional food supplies, for example gluten free bread with you in your bag transfer so you can supplement the food provided if need be.

WILL I NEED TO CARRY WATER?

It is crucial that you keep hydrated during the day. This will help to avoid headaches and altitude sickness. On a guided trek, your guide will advise on the amount of water you are recommended to carry and will inform you of suitable topping up points along the way. It is suggested that you refrain from using the mountain streams and only use the known safe water supplies.

DO I NEED A FIRST AID KIT?

It is always advisable to carry the basics, including plasters for blisters and pain killers for headaches and other aches & muscle strains. (Don’t forget any of your usual medication). You will be able to replenish supplies along the routes in certain locations.

DO I NEED TO ARRANGE MY OWN INSURANCE?

Medical
Your own insurance is crucial. You will find further information and links for insurance on our website. If you are on a guided tour, your guide will do their utmost to ensure your safety, but accidents do happen. Even trivial accidents can result in a hefty bill if evacuation off the mountain or transport is involved. If you are unsure of your insurance cover, please ask us before the trek, rather than at the time when you may require assistance.

Possessions
You are in remote terrain where equipment can be easily lost. You will also be in some very public places, for example hotels and refuges. Mont Blanc Treks cannot hold themselves responsible for your private possessions. Please make sure that they are adequately insured and kept safe.
There is a certain amount of trust involved with bag transfers. Bags are left for collection and again after delivery, in some relatively public places within the hotels we use. Again, please make sure valuables are both secure and that the kit is suitably insured.

Suggestions for trekking insurance companies that have been used by previous clients are:

For residents worldwide:
World Nomads
TravelEx 'Adventure Plus Pak'
True Traveller

For residents in the UK:
British Mountaineering Council
World first

For UK and EU residents:
Globelink

For residents in the USA:
TravelEx 'Adventure Plus Pak'

For residents in Australia:
Insure4less

WILL THERE BE ANY ADDITIONAL COSTS?

At MBT we try to be very upfront with the potential cost of your holiday. As previously mentioned, extra costs will be incurred for the use of public transport. Cable cars, buses and trains for example. There are also evenings when evening meal is NOT included in the cost of the accommodation. This is made apparent in our itineraries. All of our accommodations are licensed and evening meals only include water.

IF I CHOOSE BAG TRANSFER, WILL I HAVE ACCESS TO MY BAG EVERY NIGHT?

We try and get your main luggage to you as often as possible, but there are certain locations where distance and travel time make this provision unviable. This is usually in the refuges that we use. See the individual trek itinerary for further information.

IS THERE A LIMIT TO THE AMOUNT OF LUGGAGE I CAN HAVE TRANSFERRED?

If you opt for baggage transfer, we ask that you limit your bags to 15kg. This is for health, safety and logistical reasons. Bags need to be ready for collection at 8am each day and left in the designated area in each hotel or accommodation. Your bags will be delivered to your next accommodation by 6pm at the latest. Bag transfers are not available at certain locations due to the remote nature and on those days your bags will be transferred to the next destination. Please ask for details.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE THERE IN A GROUP?

Minimum 2 and maximum 10. Group size can vary between these numbers if you are on a guided trek. We never over subscribe our groups to ensure that each client feels valued by the guide and also, for safety reasons. If you are a self-guided group, it is entirely up to you as to the size of your party.

HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE?

Everyday working life does not always allow us to be as fit as we would like, however you need to prepare before you subject your body to the rigors of substantial daily treks at high level.

See our trek grades page and fitness preparation information for further information.

CAN I BRING MY DOG?

Some parts of the routes pass through the national parks and dogs are not allowed. Also some of our hotels and refuges are not pet friendly. We’re sorry that we cannot allow you to bring your dog or other pets.

IF I TRAVEL SOLO, WILL I HAVE TO PAY A SINGLE SUPPLEMENT?

Self-guided: If you are solo and self guided, then the answer is yes. You will have to pay a single room supplement in the hotels, but you will probably find that you are in a dormitory in the refuges unless you request otherwise. Even then, single supplement may not always be possible.

Guided: If you are on a guided trek, we have no compulsory single supplements. Our accommodation is on a shared basis in twin rooms. This means that you are likely to share a room with someone else of the same sex and if possible a similar age. If in the event that there is nobody suitable to share with, a single supplement will be charged towards the trek start date once we have final group details.

WILL I HAVE MY OWN PRIVATE FACILITIES IN ALL MY ACCOMMODATION?

Generally speaking the answer is yes. Although in some locations, you will have shared facilities. In the refuges, where possible, we offer the option to pay a little extra for a room on your own. If you require this option, please specify this at the time of booking. There are places on all our treks where accommodation is limited and as a result we cannot always meet that requirement. This is out of our control and we would advise you accordingly.

HOW DO I GET FROM AND TO GENEVA AIRPORT?

Travel from the airport to your start hotel is up to you to arrange. There are various options available, which include private taxi, minibus transfer and public transport. The cost is not included in your holiday. See ourBag and Airport transfer page for more details.

AIRPORT TRANSFER

With regard to airport transfer, this can be booked online. See www.mountaindropoffs.com and by using our promotional code MBT18 you will receive a discount off their flexi fare. The flex fare gives you peace of mind if your flight is delayed as they will transfer to the next available transfer unlike the supersaver which if missed, will be recharged. This would cost approx. 35€ per person each way.

If you are a group of 4 or more, we can get preferential rates for you. Please contact Mike Booth at Alplinks and mention that you are trekking with us. He can be contacted via the Resort Rides website: www.resortrides.com or by email: info@resortrides.com

HOW DO I GET BACK TO GENEVA AIRPORT FROM ZERMATT?

Similar to the start of your holiday, you will need to make your own arrangements for onward travel at the end of your holiday. Getting to and from Zermatt to Geneva is fairly straight forward and the Swiss rail service runs like clockwork and is the best way to get from Zermatt to Geneva airport. Train times and tickets information can be found on www.postauto.ch/en

HOW DO I GET TO AND FROM AROLLA, LES HAUDERES, LA SAGE AND ZINAL IF I AM DOING AN EASTERLY OR WESTERLY HAUTE ROUTE TREK?

The Swiss transport service runs like clockwork and the best way to get from Geneva airport to Arolla, Les Hauderes, La Sage and Zinal would be by train and then local bus. Train and bus times and tickets information can be found on www.postauto.ch/en

WHAT HAPPENS IF I FEEL I AM UNFIT TO WALK ON ANY OF THE DAYS?

If you are unable to complete any of the days when you should be trekking, either alone or with your group, you will have to rely mainly on public or private transport or meet the resulting costs. If you contact the office at Mont Blanc Treks, we will do everything we can to ensure a smooth transition. We are however unable to operate a transfer system where we can facilitate moving clients from one hotel to another in order that they maintain contact with their group.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I FEEL I AM UNABLE TO FINISH THE TREK?

If you feel, for whatever reason, you are unable to fully complete the trek, it will be necessary for you to return to your start or finish hotel, using public transport. If you inform the Mont Blanc Treks office, we will try and help with your arrangements. This will incur extra charges for any extra accommodation that may be necessary and unfortunately will result in you forfeiting any already booked accommodation on the trek which you may not have used.

IF I AM DOING A SELF-GUIDED TREK AND THERE IS AN EMERGENCY, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

You will be provided with a list of emergency contacts and as a result you will be able to avail yourself of their facilities. This will most probably incur a cost and is the reason we ask you to ensure that you are adequately and suitably insured.

We do ask you to inform us at the office if you encounter problems, so that we can work on your behalf, informing hotels not to expect you etc to avoid unnecessary panic.

IF I AM ON A GUIDED TREK, CAN I CHANGE TO SELF-GUIDED FOR A DAY IN ORDER TO VARY MY ROUTE?

Unfortunately the answer is no. If you are a member of a guided party, you will be deemed to be the responsibility of the guide and they will have a certain responsibility for your well-being. They will also be responsible for the safety of the rest of their group and it would be unfair to ask them to divert their attention. If you are on a guided trek, we ask you to stay with that group and follow the recommendations of the guide, which will have been made with the overall safety of the group in mind.

HOW CAN I FIND OUT WHO ELSE HAS BOOKED THE TREK?

If you would like to check who else is booked on any particular trek, please just contact us. We can tell you the makeup of your group, the ratio of males to females and give you an idea of the group’s age profile.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF JOINING A GROUP RATHER THAN TRAVELLING ON MY OWN?

People do walk our routes solo. Some like the solitude. However you will find our groups are small enough for you to have time to yourself, as well as feeling totally involved. The guide will take the stress out of route finding. Being in a group is safer in what can be isolated terrain and difficult weather.

WILL I ENJOY MY TREK?

We sincerely hope so and will do our best to make this happen!