Packing for the Tour du Mont Blanc

After three days of hiking in the TMB from Courmayeur in GLORIOUS SUNSHINE we were enjoying a sunny evening in Champex with a glass of wine/beer by the lake and we were lamenting about all the kit we had brought and not had to use. If only we had known that we were to experience hot, dry and sunny days we would never have needed to carry the extra weight of waterproof trousers.

The next day I was wearing those waterproof trousers. And I had to wear them all the way to Le Tour in France- a full two days of hiking away.

It was wet. And cold.

Packing light involves packing and repacking and then culling some more, and when you have to pack for every type of weather it can be quite difficult but you either have to succumb to the fact you have to carry 10kg on your back or suffer in the cold or the heat because you didn’t pack right. After our 102.5km adventure I would rather carry the 10kg and be comfortable in the weather.

IMG_2851
Coming to terms with the weight of my rucksack before leaving for Courmayeur

Here is everything that was in my 60L rucksack:

  • Rab Ascent 500 Sleeping Bag
  • Exped Synmat UL 7 M
  • MSR Pocket Rocket Stove & gas
  • Alpkit Titanium Pan
  • Alpkit Titanium Mug
  • Alpkit Titanium Cutlery Set
  • Headtorch
  • Anker Power Core Charger & phone/watch cables
  • Lighter
  • 2L Hydration pouch
  • TMB guidebook
  • Wallet
  • Passport
  • Leki walking poles (which I fell in love with and would not have managed without)

 

  • Underwear
  • 4x pairs of socks
  • 1x shorts
  • 1x 3/4 length running leggings
  • 1x full length running leggings
  • Lightweight baselayer
  • Midweight baselayer
  • 3x technical t-shirts
  • Lightweight fleece
  • Down insulated jacket
  • Buff
  • Beanie hat
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Gloves
  • Flip-flops

 

  • SPF50
  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Shower gel
  • Face scrub
  • Moisturiser (I get dry skin easily)
  • Razor
  • Compeed blister plasters
  • Hairbrush

 

  • Pasta
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Cereal bars
  • Boursin

 

There were only three items on this list that I never used. The 3/4 length running leggings, the hat and the gloves. I probably could have done with the gloves when we were climbing up to the Col de Balme in clouds, rain and all of the cold winds from all of the directions. My hands were cold but I couldn’t be bothered to stop in that weather, unload the pack and locate the gloves. And besides, the speed I shot up to 2191m meant my hands got warm, fast.

BG carried the tent which was the fantastic investment of the Nemo Hornet 2p weighing in at JUST 2lbs. Amazing. He also carried the map and compass, and daily baguettes and other snacks we bought along the way to keep us going.

The down insulated jacket and the fleece were only ever used during the evenings when it cooled off quite quickly in the campsites so certainly not a waist of weight.

The Anker Power Core was a luxury but the fact it charged both our phones and Suunto watches several times over and STILL had 1/2 charge when we got back to Chamonix proves it was worth lugging it 102.5km.

Despite the two days of rain from Champex to Argentiere we were lucky with the weather as it never got cold. I was quite happy in the rain wearing shorts without waterproof trousers but we met several people who had experienced snow over on the way from France to Italy. Proof that you do need to pack for every weather on the TMB.

The morning we headed for the bus from Chamonix to Courmayeur I wondered how on earth I was going to carry that weight for so long, AND up so many ascents. The first ascent up to Rifugio Bertone was a slow one but eventually, by on day three in my case, your body seems to adapt and you just keep going. By day four my rucksack me and my rucksack were one, probably because my focus had turned to the blisters on my heels, either way you learn to manage.

And you have to because you never know what the TMB is going to throw at you.

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