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Hiking in the Alps: our guide to completing the Tour de Mont Rosa

Whilst you’ve probably heard of the Tour du Mont Blanc, you might not have heard of its slightly gnarlier cousin, the Tour de Monte Rosa. ... Read more
Hiking in the Alps: our guide to completing the Tour de Mont Rosa
Whilst you’ve probably heard of the Tour du Mont Blanc, you might not have heard of its slightly gnarlier cousin, the Tour de Monte Rosa. That bit more strenuous, the TMR is a stunning route through Switzerland and Italy around the epic, glaciated massif of Monte Rosa. Whilst anyone up for the challenge can take it on, it’s best to be prepared, which is why KE’s Operations Manager Tim, who completed the tour himself this summer, has put together this handy guide.

The TMR is one of the classic Alpine treks passing through some amazing mountain scenery, with charming accommodation and the bonus of hardly any other trekkers. Here’s what to expect:


You can expect a great mixture of accommodation with 5 nights in cosy village guesthouses and 5 nights spent in stunning Alpine refuges. 


The Alpine refuges are situated in beautiful, atmospheric mountain locations with fantastic terraces to soak in the views with a coffee or beer. On arrival at the huts you change out of your walking boots into the hut slippers or Crocs that are provided, and leave your boots in the entrance of the refuge. The rooms are dormitory style and vary from 4 to 16 beds, usually in bunk beds. All bedding is provided, but as this is not washed daily you have to bring along and use a sheet sleeping bag liner. 

These days, almost all dorms have electrical sockets for you to charge your phone or camera from, which surprised me as last time I stayed in Alpine refuges there tended to be one socket with queues of people wanting to use it. Washing and toilet facilities are shared, but all the refuges apart from one had hot showers, which were well appreciated. 

Dinner time is a communal event with everybody gathering in the dining room to create a lovely atmosphere full of chat about the day’s activity. It’s always a 3 course affair with big wholesome portions washed down with wine, beer and water. Lights out is usually early as people are tired and looking forward to another fantastic day of trekking. It’s a great feeling to wake up at the refuges, walk outside and be surrounded by the mountain scenery away from the towns and roads.  


This is an unsupported trek, therefore you’ll have to carry all of your own equipment from the start of the trip to the finish. However, as you don’t need to bring along a sleeping bag or camping mat, you should be able to keep the weight of your backpack to around 8kgs. A backpack of around 40 litres will be big enough to get in everything you’ll need. Here are some of the useful items of equipment I brought with me:

  • Trekking poles. There’s a lot of ascent and descent on this trip. An average of over 1000m ascent and descent daily. A set of poles help to take the strain off your legs and knees.
  • Merino wool trekking t-shirts. Cool, fast drying and you can wear them for a few days without them smelling too much! I took 3 t-shirts with me for the 9 day trek and kept one to wear in the evenings when we got to our accommodation.
  • Sun hat, sunglasses and sun cream – that mountain sun is strong and you’ll be out in it for about 8 hours each day. 
  • Waterproof backpack cover and dry bags. It can and does rain occasionally and you want to make sure the contents of your pack remain dry, so you have some nice dry clothes to change into when you get to your overnight accommodation. 
  • Silk sleeping bag liner – this is necessary for the mountain refuges, and a silk liner is super lightweight and packs down to nothing.
  • Drinking water bladder. In order to keep hydrated it’s great to be able to drink on the move, and not have to stop to get your water bottle out of your pack. All the tap water is drinkable on this trek, and every village and refuge has drinking water taps you can fill up at 


A pair of lightweight trekking poles, 40 litre backpack, 3 merino t-shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair lightweight trekking trousers, 1 pair mid weight trekking trousers, 1 fleece jacket, waterproof jacket, waterproof over trousers, sunhat, sunglasses, sun cream, warm hat, lightweight gloves, 4 pairs socks and underwear, small first aid kit, basic wash kit (soap, shampoo in a small refillable bottle, toothbrush, travel size toothpaste), 2 pin plug adaptor, camera, silk sleeping bag liner, waterproof backpack cover, dry bags/waterproof backpack liner, 2 litre drinking bladder, head torch, small travel towel 


This is one of the most challenging classic Alpine treks. Each day is 7 – 8 hours of walking with an average of over 1000m ascent and descent daily, plus you’re carrying your own equipment and clothing for the 9 days of the trek. The trek is on generally good mountain paths, but there is some exposure in places. The best way to prepare for a trip like this is by doing as much walking in the hills as possible, and on some of the days carrying a slightly heavier backpack to get yourself used to it. If possible try and do some ‘back to back’ walking days, to get used to the nature of trekking. Other aerobic activities like running, biking and swimming are great if you’re unable to get into the hills regularly.

Do you want to know more about KE's Tour de Monte Rosa Trek? Just give Tim or another member of our adventure-loving team a call on +44 (0) 17687 73966 or USA/Canada toll-free 1888 630 4415.
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