Travel light. No, lighter than that. A bit lighter still... Save that half used toothpaste tube and use it on this trip. Take a smaller bit of soap, not a massive new showergel bottle. There’s no getting away from it. You walk up hills a lot on this trip. The lighter the bag, the easier it is. You come down them too. Your knees will thank you for leaving the hardback bestseller back in Chamonix. For example, two tee-shirts (one day, one night) will see you through the week easily. If you must, you could even wash the daytime tee and dry it overnight. If you're wondering why I say all this, what with three litres of water, lunch, an SLR and a bit too much in the way of clothing, my bag was 17kg, joint heaviest on our trip. I figured I could cut four kg out easily and will do next time!
Earplugs are a must for a good night’s sleep in the dorms. Someone will snore. Someone will get up for a wee. If you’re used to dorm living, this will be normal to you. If you’ve never stayed in dorms before, fear not – these were some of the nicest I’ve experienced, with comfy beds, nice and warm. They may feel cosy, with fellow travellers in close proximity, but embrace it and enjoy it!
Watch the guide. If they put a jacket on, it’s probably going to get wet. If they’re in a tee-shirt, it’s looking good.
Get some training done. Each day contained a significant climb and descent. Our group was described as averagely fit and we spent between six and eight hours walking each day. The fitter you are, the more time you can spend looking at the magnificent views, instead of staring down at your feet on a never ending trudge. I absolutely promise the views are worth the extra effort.
If you get a nosebleed and use a tampon to staunch the bloodflow, be prepared for your fellow walkers to point, laugh and take photos. Thank you Richard for this most memorable of moments.