Re-inventing the wheel can’t be easy, but it’s been done with this new guidebook about the legendary Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), recently released by Vertebrate Publishing. So why is it ground-breaking? It cuts out all the fluff, the extra page fillers, the non-edited text. The result is streamlined to perfection, and it’s clear that it took an expert to know what to cull, and what was key. The author is award-winning outdoor writer Kingsley Jones, who has made over 50 laps of the TMB, both guiding and racing it. This is a pure alpine style of guidebook, pared down to the pure essentials, yet invaluable with the gems of local knowledge it shares.
There’s several USP’s for this book, but the most important is that it’s been designed for all user groups of this epic trail, from steady walkers, to fastpackers, and trail runners. What allows all speed groups to be so catered for, is that an innovative timing method was created for this book, called the Jones-Ross Formula. Don’t worry if you hate maths, as they didn’t, and the result is a personalised timing calculator for each leg of the TMB, for each user group and their specific ascent and descent speeds. This is a far cry from old timing calculation methods, such as Naismith’s rule, and makes this guidebook appeal to everyone who wants to complete the circuit of Mont Blanc.
It’s hard hitting, no nonsense, and filled with information that only a local would know from spending over a year of their life in total, continuously on this trail. There’s some great extra features, such as the best places for wild swimming, information on how to wild camp the route, what local food and drinks to seek out, and characters of the TMB trails. This is more than just a guidebook. It’s a phenomenally well thought out aide to planning and completing the route, and the layout is everything and more than you’d expect from Vertebrate; slick, smart, shiny, and glorious images. Every page lures you in, and you feel like you’re doing the route. It’s a new gold standard of guidebook.
The book also has custom 1:40,000 scale mapping, produced specifically for it, so it’s uncluttered with detail you don’t need, and packed with exactly what you want. The book doesn’t skimp with thin linear maps, but provides you enough detail both of the route, and the areas to the side, to allow you to see escape routes or adapt plans if you needed. The mapping is really clear, and in the increasingly popular 1:40k format, which most people agree is very visual, yet sufficiently detailed for safety and information.
As well as the book, with all the mapping included within it, there’s also a separate map that is available as a twin for the guidebook. The map uses the same custom mapping as the guidebook, and is on waterproof paper. This will appeal to the traditionalists, who prefer completing a trail with occasional glances at a map, rather than keeping their head in a book. It’s also been released by Vertebrate Publishing, and it features a GPX file download, for those who want to have the TMB route on their GPS unit or running watch. As with the guidebook, the map is lightweight, and impeccably designed, to save you weight, and to see the full route, split into sections, in 1:40,000 scale.
The map also features a detailed route profile, with timings for the legs, and so is a perfect companion to the guidebook. It was designed with specific ideas from a running race organiser, so there’s been expert input at every stage. The detail of technical timings content is shared between book and map, as are the timing points, making it incredibly easy to cross reference your location between guidebook. It’s this planning and detailed thought, that has clearly gone into the production of this book and map, which marks them out. For those just purchasing the guidebook, the waypoints in the route description also feature in their precise locations on the in-book mapping, so it’s exceptionally easy to follow the route.
The net result, of both the guidebook and the separate map, are superb products, that will easily earn their places in the rucksacks and pockets of all those who undertake the TMB. We’re so impressed here at Icicle, that we are going to provide a copy of both the guidebook and map, to every single group who does a self-guided TMB trek with us (link for details). This will be in addition to the trek notes we normally provide, and will be given to you at the TMB briefing in-resort, when you are in Chamonix. We’ve been offering TMB treks for 20 years, and strongly feel that this guidebook and map are the absolute market leaders, and so are proud to be providing them to you.
There’s a strong focus on mountain safety in the guidebook, with advice of what to take, and what to do in event of an emergency. Perhaps that’s no surprise when you discover that the author is also a mountain rescue volunteer in the Lake District. There are also really useful sections about mountain skills, route navigation, and a careful consideration of when in the season to travel. Other strong selling points for this guidebook are the detailed appendices, and local information such as travelling to the area. One great idea that stands out from the guidebook, is the idea of completing the route in two long weekends, rather than in one hit. A brilliant option for those wanting to either travel quicker, or take less time off work.
If you would like to get your hands on a copy of the guidebook and / or map, we have just taken delivery of our first stock order of both of them, in our Windermere shop. Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, we’re still processing mail orders via our shop website. As an extra incentive, we’ve discounted both the guidebook and map, and there’s free UK postage for all orders over £30 anyway. If you’d like an author signed copy, please let us know, and if there’s any special message you’d like to be inscribed.
TMB Guidebook – click here to view in our online shop
Waterproof map – click here to view in our online shop
We hope you enjoy reading this guidebook, and that it inspires you to undertake the TMB in a timescale that suits you. As the legend that is Yvon Chouinard famously said; “The more you know, the less you need”. This impeccably researched guidebook, is fast and lean, yet still heavy with well thought out detail and recommendations. We really hope you find it an essential companion and guide to your TMB.
p.s. If the author name sounded familiar, Kingsley is also an UIMLA leader on our guiding team. You can read more about his writing at; www.kingsleyjones.com
p.p.s. To read more about the amazing and inspirational range of books produced by Vertebrate Publishing, you can discover them at; www.v-publishing.co.uk