All Thru-hikes in Europe and the USA.
The tenth and final day of the Haute Route started with the nerve wrecking Charles Kuonen suspension bridge and featured more sketchy passages along the trail to Zermatt, the end of the thru hike.
On day 9 of the Haute route I hiked the valley bottom of the Mattertal to the village of Herbriggen, because the first half of Europaweg to Zermatt was closed. Then I climbed out of the valley again, up to the Europahütte, halfway the Europaweg trail.
Day 8 on the Haute Route was a hot and very tough day. From the Meidsee down to Gruben, ascending again to the Augustbordpass and then all the way down to the village of Sankt Niklaus. A total of more than 2.600 meters of exhausting descent.
A long and spectacular day 7 of the Haute Route brought a view of Val d’Anniviers with the Bernese Alps in the distance. Then the first view of the Matterhorn peak and excellent wild camping at the Meidsee at the end of the day.
I have been buying different brands of trail food breakfasts for a few years. But once I became aware that these expensive meals were not much different from what I make myself for breakfast at home, I started preparing my own hiker’s breakfast.
A sunny sixth day on the Haute Route: I hiked along an incredibly blue lake to Col de Sorebois. Leaving the amazing view of the mountain range east I decended to the village of Zinal, where I found the first campsite of my thru hike.
Day 5 on the Haute route was a day of rain, snow and mist. And because of poor visibility quite demanding. Especially the climb up to Cabane de Moiry on a rocky zig zag path with 29 turns in complete mist was exhausting – but beautiful.
A demanding fourth day on the Haute Route. After an easy stroll along Lac des Dix, a steep ascent took me to rough and misty terrain full of rocks, under heavy clouds – with sometimes no trail at all. Halfway I encountered the challenging ladder section at Pas de Chèvres. After that, it was all the way down for hours.
An amazing third day on the Haute Route. I climbed four mountain passes, sled down a snowfield and crossed glacial waters. On the way there were turqoise lakes, a herd of ibex and I reached the highest elevation of the entire Haute Route.
My second day on the Haute Route was a full day of ascending, with exciting views of the Massif du Mont Blanc and the snowy peak of Le Grand Combin. Gaining more than 1.600 meter in elevation, I reached Cabane du Mont Fort early in the afternoon.
The Haute Route, also known as the Chamonix-Zermatt Trail, shares the first 3 sections with the Tour du Mont Blanc, but then continues east into the high mountains. I started my thru-hike in a lovely quiet and green valley as a prologue to another 10 days of desolate fields of glacial rock, almost 3000 meter high alpine passes and stunning views.
When I first started backpacking, I had a heavy Fjalräven backpack and a total weight of about 25 kg on my back. Especially since my first major thru-hike in 2018 in the High Sierra, I have been lowering my pack weight significantly. For my last thru-hike on the Swiss Haute Route I brought my base weight down with another 700 grams, to just about 6,8 kg (15 pounds).
Before I started my eight-day SEKI Loop trail, I spent two days in Kings Canyon National Park to acclimatize to the elevation and do some preliminary hiking. I combined the Sunset Trail with the General Grant Loop Trail, the North Grove Trail and the Dead Giant Loop to a beautiful half day hike.
On the last day of the Tour du Mont Blanc I climbed all the way out of the valley, to the panoramic views of Le Grand Balcon and Le Brévent. It was a long way down again to reach the TMB finish line in Les Houches.
Day 8 of the Tour du Mont Blanc was wet, cold …and short. I hiked up to the Refuge du Col de Balme, where I warmed up and made plans for the rest of this rainy day. Then I hiked down to the valley to the first hotel that had a room available. The day ended nicely though, with 4 fellow TMB hikers in an Argentière bar.
Day 7 of my Tour du Mont Blanc was the most impressive day of the tour, and one of the most spectaculair hikes I have done. More than a 2.000 meters up and down a very steep and rough trail, with an hour of scrambling boulders… and sometimes no trail at all.
My sixth day on the Tour du Mont Blanc turned out to be the easiest part of the entire thru-hike so far. The Swiss Val Ferret has a very moderate elevation change, sweet green pastures and a nice cold lake at the end in Champex.
Day 5 of the Tour the Mont Blanc was beautiful and not too hard. I hiked up the Italian Val Ferret to connect with the official TMB again, climbed up the mountains and crossed the Grand Col de Ferret into Switzerland.
Day 4 of the Tour the Mont Blanc would be the longest day of all. Along majestic glaciers, mountain tops and refreshing lakes, I hiked all the way down to Courmayeur. And up again in search of a legal campsite. I reached camp after 12 hours of hiking and a distance of 32 km.
On day 3 of the Tour du Mont Blanc I climbed up and down the amazing number of 4 mountain passes within 23 km / 12 miles. And when I finally reached Italy, I concluded the day at a tiny museum with 5 other hikers.
My second day on the TMB was the only part of the trail with no descent at all (apart from a few steps down now and then). It was one long climb from the village of Contamines all the way up to the stunning Lacs Jovet.
The first half day of the Tour du Mont Blanc I spent in an airplane and busses, until I finally got the the trailhead. Heavy fog made me change my plans already within 2 hours on the trail.
With a length of 172 kilometer / 107 miles the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) seems very similar to the SEKI Loop I hiked in California last summer (104.7 miles / 168,5 km). But the altitude is much lower, the climate different and I also expect to see a lot more people on the trail this summer.
Like most hikers, I want to be able to charge my smartphone, wether on a thru-hike or a multi day section hike. I have compared different options and finally chose the Flybox Solar power bank to carry on my SEKI Loop thru hike in the summer of 2018.
After my eight-day SEKI Loop trail, I headed north to Yosemite National Park for one last day hike. I chose the Cathedral Lakes trail – part of the John Muir Trail – because it combines alpine lakes, a magnificent peak and relative solitude.