Can I hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in Spring?

Spring is a magical season in the Alps. Wildflowers are abundant, there are less tourists, and all the mountain sports are available – skiing, hiking, mountain biking and climbing! Spring is one of my favourite time to hike in the Alps because of the cooler temperatures and quieter trails. However, I wouldn’t advise hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc in Spring before mid-June, here’s why:


When most people think of hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc in Spring, they have images of strolling through alpine meadows. However, up until the start of mid-June there is very often substantial amounts of snow on the trail. Snow can persist on the trails until the middle of Summer and the amount depends upon the snowfall in winter and temperature in Spring. Last year we had an incredibly snowy winter, but an unusually warm spring melted so much of it that by the middle of July there were only very small patches remaining on the trails.

Tour du Mont Blanc in Spring
Hiking down the Val Veny into Courmayeur in July 2018. There were still patches on snow in the mountains but the trails were mostly clear. Photo by Jennifer Stretton

So, what is the problem with snow?

The Tour du Mont Blanc crosses several major mountain passes over 8000ft in altitude – The Grand Col Ferret, Col de la Seigne and Col du Balme. They all hold snow late into Spring and are especially dangerous to cross if icy. Sadly, a couple of people die on the Tour du Mont Blanc most years due to falling on icy/snowy ground and sliding into rocks.

If you are very competent with winter travel and have crampons and an ice axe, then travelling over the Cols is made much safer. However, a bigger danger is avalanches – both from the slope you are walking on and the slopes above. For these reasons guided groups do not start the Tour du Mont Blanc in Spring until mid-June.

Tour du mont blanc in spring is good for flowers
Alpine snowbells (Soldanella Alpina) are one of my favourite spring flowers. They are usually purple but I was lucky enough to find some white ones in the Val Veny on the Tour du Mont Blanc last year! Photo by Jennifer Stretton

Which Way?

The Tour du Mont Blanc follows a good trail and is well sign posted. However, in bad weather the mountain passes can be disorientating – particularly if there is also snow on the trails. Later in Spring there is a well-trodden path in the snow across passes making it safer to walk across and easier to find your way. If you want to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in Spring before mid-June then a map and compass or a GPS are a very good idea.  

River crossings

There are some river crossings on the Tour du Mont Blanc and many bridges aren’t put in until mid-June. They are taken away in winter to protect them from avalanches and helicoptered back in once the snow has cleared. In March and April, snow covers the rivers and you can just walk straight across. But by May/June the snow begins to melt and you can find yourself having to walk across unnerving snow bridges.

Hotels and Refuges

Many hotels in the Alps close during interseason and re-open in June. Whilst you will find accommodation in Chamonix no problem, it can become more difficult in some of the smaller villages along the way. Mountain refuges on the Tour du Mont Blanc are only open for the hiking season and so you will need to check ahead to see what is open before committing to staying overnight.

Read more

If you’re planning to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in Spring, you may be interested to read some of my other posts:

Looking for a trip?

Alpenwild specialises in guided Tour du Mont Blanc and self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc trips. You will stay in the best hotels in the region and eat in some of its top restaurants. The perfect way to relax after a hard day on the trail!

Jennifer Stretton
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