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Trek Grades and Fitness Preparation

So you have signed up for a summer adventure, now is the time you make sure you fit and ready in order to get maximum enjoyment out of your trek. The Tour du Mont Blanc andWalkers Haute Route are a great challenge and preparation is the key to achieving your goal.

All of the treks we offer are physically demanding you will be travelling over rugged and mountainous terrain with a sustained amount of ascent and descent on a daily basis. Make sure you are aware of the daily distances travelled and the height gain and descent so you know what to expect.

It’s a good idea to have a trial at packing your rucksack beforehand to maximize space, check the weight and get rid of any un-needed items! If you are not used to trekking with a heavier rucksack take it out with you when training during the months beforehand.

See our Packing List page for more information.

TREK GRADING

We grade our treks from 1 to 10 (1 being relatively easy and 10 being 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 and 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 and 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 and a good level of fitness needed before you arrive. The height gain and descent are in the region of + or – 800 meters per day without a break. The terrain is difficult at times with steep and rocky ascents & descents.

GRADE 7 CHALLENGING

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

GRADE 8 STRENUOUS & DEMANDING

Walkers Haute Route: This is a strenuous and demanding trek that requires a high level of fitness and stamina for long mountain days. You need to have plenty of mountain walking experience and 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 and rocky ascents and descents.

GRADE 9/10 TECHNICAL & EXTREME

Traverse of the Gran Paradiso (AV2): This is the most physically demanding treks we offer and an excellent level of fitness is required for the type of terrain you will encounter on this trek and 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 and the terrain is remote, exposed and difficult at times with steep and rocky ascents and descents.

Nutrition and Hydration

One of the most important things in addition to fitness is your nutrition and hydration during the trek. Poor nutrition and hydration can severely affect your physical performanceand it is important to get your nutrition and hydration right, you will be burning lots of calories and loosing essential fluid each day so it is imperative you carry the right kinds of food and enough water with you to avoid dehydration and malnutrition.

It is advisable to drink plenty of water before you sent off on each days trek so you are fully hydrated. A pack lunch can be bought from local supermarkets when staying in villages or from the accommodation if ordered the night of arrival. If you are not familiar with the kinds of food and drink that would be good when exerting yourself on a daily basis do some research beforehand and trial what works best for you.

Hydration

It is essential that you stay hydrated before, during and after each day on the trek. The amount you take each day really depends on your personal needs, but we would suggest a minimum of 1.5 litres of water. Depending on the itinerary there might be opportunity to replenish your water supply during the day. This information will be available from your guide or if on a self-guided trek further information will be given on the daily route cards so you can plan accordingly.

Food

You know what suits you best & food is fuel! You will be burning lots of calories so eating well is essential to the enjoyment of your trek. The meals provided on the trek will give you a balanced nutritious diet, evening meals will consist of: A starter of soup or salad, main course of meat or vegetarian option with pasta, rice or potatoes & vegetables plus a dessert. Continental breakfast of cereals, yogurt, bread, jam, meats & cheese. Dietary requirements can be catered for, please specify at the time of booking & remind each accommodation on arrival.

On the Trail

Snacks, trail mix, fresh sandwiches & fruit, you know what works best for you whilst you are out & about in the mountains. There will be opportunity to purchase fresh food each day from a local bakery or supermarket. When staying in the more remote locations the refuges will provide you with a pack lunch at an additional cost, make sure you order this on arrival for the following day. If you have a bag transfer it is worth having a stock of none perishable snacks in your transfer bag so you can top up your backpack with your favourites.

Your Fitness Level

Level of fitness, which best describes you?

Training required

You exercise on a daily basis. You regularly walk in the mountains in your home country. You take a trekking holiday every year.

If this is you then you will have absolutely no problem, keep up the good work and enjoy!

You exercise a few times a week. You regularly walk, sometimes in the mountains. You have taken trekking holidays in recent years and coped well.

The same applies if this is you then you will have absolutely no problem, keep up the good work and enjoy!

Possibly do some more walking in the mountains and carrying a rucksack to get used to the extra weight.

You do some exercise but not on a regular basis, you do some walking and have walked in the mountains before. You have taken a trekking holiday before but not for many years.

You do some exercise so that’s a good start, from now until the trek start date make sure you get out at least a couple of times a week.

To build up endurance skills get out walking building up to 15 - 20k in distance. You need to make sure there is height gain and descent to build up leg strength.

By the time the trek date arrives you need to be comfortable walking 15 - 20k per day with 1000m of height gain and descent. You also need to carry a rucksack to get used to the extra weight.

You don’t take regular exercise and haven’t walked in the mountains for a number of years. You have never taken a trekking holiday before.

All is not lost although there is no time to lose in terms of starting your training!

Maybe enlist the help of a personal trainer and let them work out a program for you. Start easy, get out walking on flat easy routes, and build up the distance over a number of weeks. Once the distance has increased and you feel fitter start to introduce some hill walking.

By the time the trek date arrives you need to be comfortable walking 15 - 20k per day with 1000m of height gain and descent. You also need to carry a rucksack to get used to the extra weight.