For those that started the TMB in Les Houches, this may be your penultimate stage. If that’s the case, read TMB Stage 1: Chamonix – Les Houches for your last stage.
This is the Tour du Mont Blanc stage with the famous ladders. The ladder section is a protected route with numerous aids (fixed handrails, metal platforms, steps, etc…). These permanent aids help hikers safely ascend steep rock walls.
In terms of difficulty, it’s relative. If you identify with us (and our hiking experience), then the ladders will likely be easy and fun for you.
If, however, you have any fear of heights or suffer the slightest vertigo, it’s best to opt for the alternative route which starts close to Col des Montets and links back up with the main TMB route at Tête aux Vents. This alternative trail is summarized in Cicerone: The Tour of Mont Blanc.
The ladders become a bottleneck, so it’s best to start as early as possible to avoid the congestion.
The TMB twists up the forest and then angles southwest across the northern flank of Vallée de l’Arve. After ascending the protected passage délicat (fixed ladders, railings, steps), the path steeply climbs up to the Tête aux Vents trail junction. From here, you can decide whether to follow the direct trail to La Flégère or the indirect trail via Lac Blanc.
Tour du Mont Blanc Stage 10 Hiking Guide: Ladders Route to Lac Blanc
- Starting Point: Tré le Champ, France
- Ending Point: Flégère, Chamonix, France
- Distance: 8.6 km to La Flégère
- Time Needed: 3:45 -4 hours
- Elevation Gain: 1043 meters
- Elevation Loss: 495 meters
- Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
- Minimum Elevation: 1332 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2357 meters
- Where to Stay in Chamonix: Heliopic Hotel & Spa (midrange – top choice), Chalet Hôtel Le Prieuré (midrange), or Alpina Eclectic Hotel & Spa Chamonix (luxury)
- Self-Guided Hiking Tour: 10 Day Standard Tour du Mont Blanc (what we booked) / 10 Day Comfort Tour du Mont Blanc (private rooms only)
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Tré le Champ – Lac Blanc – La Flégère Trail Map
Tré le Champ – Lac Blanc – La Flégère Trail Description
Tré le Champ to TMB Ladders (1:15 hours)
The trailhead is located along the Route des Montets road (D1506), just north of Auberge la Boerne.
The Tour du Mont Blanc twists up the forest and then angles southwest across the northern flank of Vallée de l’Arve.
At the junction (40 minutes from the trailhead), bear right to Aiguillette d’Argentiere (35 minutes) and Lac Blanc (2:10 hours).
The trail continues to rise and develops into a balcony path, which leads to a line of crags. The ladder section begins just past the base of Aiguillette d’Argentiere, crowded with boulders.
TMB Ladders to Tête aux Vents (30 minutes)
This protected section involves several metal ladders, fixed handrails, and metal platforms, and steps.
The ladders aren’t continuous. There are stretches of regular trail in between the ladders.
After tackling the longest metal ladder, fixed to a sloping rock wall, the aided climb continues up the mountain to Tête aux Vents (2140 m), marked with a giant cairn.
The views should be absolutely sensational. Low-hanging clouds obscured our views, but I can imagine how stunning it is.
Tête aux Vents to Lac Blanc (45 minutes)
The main TMB trail continues directly to La Flégère (1:05 hours). However, you can take a higher trail to La Flégère via Lac des Chéserys and Lac Blanc.
The trail ascends easily to Lac des Chéserys (2240 m). Wrap around the lake and follow the sign to Lac Blanc.
Climb up the ladder and follow the timber steps to Refuge du Lac Blanc (2352 m).
Refuge du Lac Blanc
Refuge du Lac Blanc is a privately-owned mountain hut with 40 dormitory mattresses. They only accept payment in cash. If you eat indoors, leave your trekking backpack outside to avoid scolding.
Lac Blanc is a popular photo motif and always crawling with visitors. From this point forward, you will share the trail with many people.
Lac Blanc to Refuge de la Flégère (1:20 hours)
The descent to la Flégère is beautiful, but busy.
Follow the obvious trail south/southwest and take in the grand sweep of the giant peaks and domes of the Mont Blanc range.
Along the way, you’ll pass a few tarns.
We took the Flégère cableway down to the valley and then walked back to Chamonix. By the time we got to la Flégère, my knees were really hurting. So, we decided to descend and not risk injury.
If you’re fit and energetic, keep hiking. Don’t descend early.
Refuge de la Flégère to Le Brévent (3:15 hours)
Rejoin the TMB and continue along the Grand Balcon Sud to Le Brévent. Descend to Chamonix with the cableways.
You can also descend from Plan Praz (and skip the last stretch to Le Brévent).
Stay in Chamonix
Top Choice – Midrange | Heliopic Hotel & Spa is located just steps away from Aiguille du Midi valley station, walking distance to the pedestrian zone. Stay here for the modern, beautifully-designed rooms, the gorgeous complementary spa (indoor pool, sauna, steam bath, herbal tea room, ice cave, and cold water plunge pool), massage services, and the amenities.
Midrange | Chalet Hôtel Le Prieuré is a centrally located hotel in Chamonix with splendid Mont Blanc mountain views, an exceptional staff, and lovely rooms (with tea/coffee machines). Expect a warm welcome and a great breakfast.
Midrange-Luxury | Alpina Eclectic Hotel & Spa Chamonix is located on the bank of the Arve river in the center of Chamonix. This modern hotel boasts freshly-designed, contemporary rooms, impressive interiors, a spa and wellness area, two bars, a grocery store, and on site-restaurant (Le Vista).
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Tour du Mont Blanc Essential Info
Read our Tour du Mont Blanc Hiking Guide to start planning your trek.
- Official TMB Length: 170 km (105 miles)
- Days Needed: 10-11 days
- Which Direction to Hike: Counterclockwise
- Where to Start the TMB: Chamonix, Vallée de l’Arve, France
- Closest Airport to Chamonix: Geneva Airport, Switzerland
- When to Hike the TMB: July – early September
- When to Book the TMB: January – February
- TMB Difficulty: Moderate
- Recommended Self-Guided Tours: 10 Day Standard Tour du Mont Blanc (private and shared rooms), 10 Day Comfort Tour du Mont Blanc (private rooms only), 7 Day Tour du Mont Blanc (shortened route with transit shortcuts), 15 Day Tour du Mont Blanc (leisurely-paced route).
TMB Planning Resources
- TMB Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone: Trekking the Tour of Mont Blanc guidebook
- TMB Trail Maps: L’Escursionista Tour du Mont Blanc TMB or IGN Tour du Mont Blanc Map
Tour du Mont Blanc Route Itinerary
The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a captivating multi-day hike that circuits the Mont Blanc massif in usually 10-11 days, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland. Here’s our personal TMB itinerary.
- Stage 1: Chamonix – Le Brévent – Les Houches
- Stage 2: Les Houches – Les Contamines-Montjoie (Col de Tricot Variant)
- Stage 3: Les Contamines – Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme
- Stage 4: Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme – Cabane du Combal (Col des Fours Variant)
- Stage 5: Cabane du Combal – Courmayeur – Rifugio Bertone
- Stage 6: Rifugio Bertone – Grand Col Ferret – Alpage de La Peule
- Stage 7: Alpage de La Peule – Ferret – La Fouly – Champex-Lac
- Stage 8: Champex-Lac – Trient (Fenêtre d’Arpette Variant)
- Stage 9: Trient – Col de Balme – Aiguillette des Posettes – Tré le Champ
- Stage 10: Tré le Champ – Lac Blanc – La Flégère – Chamonix
More Guides about Hiking in Europe
- The Alps in Summer: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting
- Hiking in the European Alps
- Italian Alps Hiking Destinations
- Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations
- Slovenia Alps Hiking Guide
Multi-Day Hikes in Europe:
Hut to Hut Hiking: