Walking the TMB in winter

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I would like to know if it is possible to do the TMB-hike in winter.

-- Hans Aerts (Hans.Aerts@agr.kuleuven.ac.be), September 24, 2002


Most of it will be covered in fairly deep snow.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (luong@ai.sri.com), October 01, 2002.

From my own experience, I would say that walking the TMB is not practicable in the winter months (November to March). However, it is possible to do this in late May/early June (this period is 'out-of- season' when the mountain hostels aren't yet open and there can be a great amount of snow and ice on the mountains at this time - but no two year's or two month's weather is the same, of course) -

- A group from the company I work for (including myself) walked the TMB in 7 walking days (which included a half-day rest in Champex) in very early June 2002 -

As a matter of fact, we were lucky to complete the trek at this time without death or serious injury - we experienced deep snow on all the 'big peaks' (Col du Bonhomme, Col du Grand Ferret, etc.) from the base-level all the way up to the top). Also torrential rain on 3 of the days. VERY DANGEROUS snow-covered ice slopes on the Col du Bonhomme. Danger from invisible snow-bridges over quite a few torrents. Of course, there are no hostels above the base-level of the mountains to 'escape' to. In May (and possibly earlier) there is a danger from avalanches.

One advantage of doing the TMB 'out-of-season' is that there is no one else up there at high altitudes so you don't get the 'bonjour', bonjour', 'bonjour' all day long as you do in July/August . .('out-of- season' you only get maybe a mountain-climber or two and possibly a group of the French Alpine troops on the French/Italian border). The local townspeople we spoke to thought we were mad for doing the TMB at this time but I'd like to repeat the experience because I found it more enjoyable than doing it 'in-season', when the landscape is less dramatic and not as challenging.

I hope this message helps to answer your question - if you find an experienced group willing to do the TMB out-of-season, let me know - I've had no success at finding such a group!

Regards, Paul Watkin London, UK

-- paul watkin (paul.watkin1@ukonline.co.uk), November 16, 2003.

The TMB circuit, at least in the Italian side, is not suitable for winter acces except in extraordinary snowless conditions. Both sides of the Cold Du Gran Ferret - and the French side of Col Del La Seigne are exposed to serious avalanche dangers. In both places wind can reach even 70 mph, and temperatures drop below -30C.

Also, some point of Val Veny and Val Ferret are exposed to the same avalanche danger - like upper Val Ferret or the section of Val Veny between Lac Combal and La Visaille.

If you really want to hike the TMB in winter, you should check condition beforehand and be well equipped.

Luca Signorelli

-- Luca Signorelli (lucasignorelli@aliceposta.it), November 22, 2003.

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