At 4810m, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe, and the crowning point of the majestic Mont Blanc massif above Chamonix. This course can take you from a position of little or no mountaineering experience, to climbing to the highest summit in the Alps, all in the space of six days! The first half of the week will be a technical training and acclimatisation phase, often incorporating an ascent of Gran Paradiso (4061m), with the focus then switching to Mont Blanc for the final three days.
Guided days - 6
Guiding ratio - 1:4 / 1:2
Based in Chamonix
We will typically aim to climb Mont Blanc by the classic Gouter Route. Although only one of many routes to the summit, it is by far the most technically straightforward. The main season to climb is June to September. July and August can have good conditions, but are often quite busy. June and September are quieter months on the mountain, and are often the best times to make an ascent.
The climb starts from the Nid d'Aigle funicular railway station at 2367m, after taking a cablecar and train up from Les Houches. Initially a straightforward walk on mountain paths, the route crosses the Tete Rousse Glacier at c.3100m (with the option of staying at the nearby Tete Rousse hut). Above here is where your mountaineering equipment is deployed for the first time.
The terrain steepens up towards the rocks of the Aiguille du Gouter, and the Grand Couloir is crossed, usually in the cool of night or early morning. The climb up the Aiguille du Gouter gives relatively straightforward scrambling on rock, but can require the use of crampons if conditions are snowy.
The Gouter hut is reached at 3800m, and from here the route is all on snow. The climb weaves its way up the steepening glaciated flank of the Dome du Gouter (4304m), and the Bosses Ridge high on Mont Blanc comes into view. Above the emergency shelter of the Vallot hut (4362m), the route steepens and narrows onto the Bosses Ridge, which is a moderately narrow and exposed snow arete in places. This is where the thin air of high altitude really makes itself felt, and all the extra training you put in pre-course will prove worth the effort! After two hours of careful cramponning along the ridge, we finally reach the summit of Mont Blanc (4810m), the roof of Western Europe and the high-point of our week.
While previous mountaineering experience is certainly beneficial, it is by no means essential. Comprehensive training in mountaineering movement, including use of ice axe and crampons, will be provided prior to our summit attempt.
Climbing Mont Blanc isn't easy! A good level of physical fitness and mental toughness is required for a successful climb. The summit day will typically require 8-12 hours of effort at high altitude. For training, big hill-walking days with a pack, or long runs or bike rides of 2-4 hours or more will help to provide the endurance needed.
We typically offer one or two open courses with scheduled dates every summer. The first three days of the course will run at a maximum guiding ratio of 1:4; the final three days will run at a maximum ratio of 1:2. The cost is £1395 per person, and each course will require a minimum of two bookings to run.
For private bookings, we can offer a bespoke course to suit your levels of experience and ability. This can run at a guiding ratio of 1:1 (£2495) or 1:2 (£1495 per person). Private courses can be booked from June 1 – October 31. (Please note that the high mountain huts typically close in late September, leaving only a 'winter' room open with beds and shelter, but no food. Therefore, October on Mont Blanc will be very quiet, with an adventurous feel, but will also be more physically demanding, with heavier packs).
Ice axe, crampons, harness and helmet can be provided for a hire fee of £10 per day. Mountaineering boot hire can be arranged with Snell Sports in Chamonix.