Seasonal Walking & Weather Conditions for the Mont Blanc Region

Early May sees wild crocus appear as the winter snow recedes. The locals will tell you that frosts are still likely until the middle of the month, with any precipitation possibly falling as snow above 1400 metres.From mid May the days are generally warm in the sun, but still cool in the shade and when the sun disappears behind the mountains. The lower pastures turn bright yellow with an absolute invasion of dandelions, not good for the garden, but magnificent to behold! This wave slowly climbs up to the higher pastures as the month progresses and heralds the beginning of the spring flower season. Marigolds and globeflowers also make an appearance in the show. There is plenty of wild life to be seen at lower altitudes while the upper slopes are still covered in snow; the comical marmottes are coming out of hibernation, waiting impatiently by their burrows for the snow to melt. Walking is superb, with very few people on the mountain and the possibility of some excellent snow shoeing conditions in certain valleys.
Arguably one of the best months for walking, with long hours of daylight and still not many people on the footpaths. Some of the summer lifts open after the middle of the month enabling easy access to higher altitude walks. This is the month to see the best of the spring flowers, from the fantastic blues of the gentian family, to the rarer 'Lilium Martagon'and the Lady's Slipper Orchid. There is still a lot of wild life to be seen, especially the docile ibex, the males showing off their magnificent horns. You may even spot the elusive chamois or surprise a pair of Ptarmigan still in their winter plumage.
While still cool first thing in the morning, the days grow rapidly quite hot by midday, with temperatures that can reach at least 33°C in the valleys. The weather forecast will often give the 'possibility' of thunderstorms in the afternoon but these mostly come to nothing. All the major summer lifts are open which makes the higher mountain walks much more accessible, even for fairly gentle walkers. July is the month for the Rhododendron Ferruginium, otherwise known as the Alpenrose or Snowrose. Many south facing slopes above 1600 metres are covered with their beautiful pink blooms.
The days can be hot, especially in the first half of the month, so you really appreciate the helping hand from the lifts to gain altitude! A turning point in the weather usually comes at the end of the month with more frequent, late afternoon thunderstorms; hence, it is always a good idea to start a walk early and finish early, thereby both reducing the risk of being caught in the open by a thunderstorm and avoiding going up the mountain in the heat of the day. Chough, those most friendly of mountain birds, will often try to charm you to part with a morsel of your sandwich, as you eat your picnic high on some mountainside.
The days are starting to get much shorter, cool in the mornings and evenings, but still very warm on a nice day. The weather is generally more settled than late August. There are once again few people on the mountain and the animals are beginning to get ready for winter; notably, the Marmottes can often be seen collecting grass to line their burrows in preparation for their hibernation. One can occasionally be surprised by snowfalls below 2000 metres.

Recommendations for packing in your rucksack

Although each summer month's weather is different, some basic things on the mountain never change; no matter that the forecast is good and you have set out in brilliant sunshine, the weather can change extremely rapidly. Hence we highly recommend that you take with you all the following items on your walks, even in the height of summer:

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Fleece
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • High-factor suncream
  • Small first aid kit, including 'Compeed' blister plasters or equivalent
  • Plenty of water and energy bars

. . . . and of course a good pair of walking boots, waterproof if possible, and well worn in!