Monday, June 7, 2010

Preparing to Leave

Departure date: June 14th.

I took the week off from hiking so I don't tire myself out (yes, I actually did some 4-mile hikes for a week). Also, the weather around here turns deathly hot anytime after 9am and before 8pm.

The forecast for Chamonix in the next week is light rain in the 70's-80's, with a low of 50's. Since we are on a self-guided tour, our main goals are to:
1. Pack lightly
2. Not get (really) lost

Between the two of us, we have decided to bring 2 packs with:
1. Thermal underwear
2. Light waterproof windbreakers
3. Thicker jackets (ski/mountaineering jacket)
4. Hat/bandana (for sun)
5. Sweat-resistant shirts
6. Waterproof pants
7. First aid kid
8. Towel
9. Knife
10. Tent for 2
11. Sleeping pad
12. Sleeping bag (-40degrees! That I use in +40degree weather)
13. Hiking socks
14. Hiking boots
15. Gaiters
16. Maps
17. Cash (exchanged in Euro)
18. 2 2L containers of water

Now for maps, hikers prefer 1:25000 ratio ones, especially for first-timers around Mont Blanc. The two recommended by most Tourist Offices include the Chamonix-Mont Blanc Topography Map IGN 3630 and its companion the Massif du Mont Blanc Topography Map IGN 3531. You need both to cover the entire Tour du Mont Blanc.

The maps are French-made, which makes finding it in the States just a bit harder. There are online retailers that sell these maps (, Amazon has a very limited amount of used maps for sale (at a much steeper price!). REI does not carry it currently in store but offers a link on its website for purchase. When Justin called to inquire, they told us they plan to start carrying it around June.

I would recommend purchasing the maps early so you can ballpark how much you can travel a day based upon the terrain and the elevation changes.

That said, the price of acquiring one is much higher in the States. While it's $40 here per map, you can purchase both at most bookstores or tourist shops for 20 total.

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