Mont Blanc was the birthplace of Alpinism when it was first climbed in 1786 by Jaques Balmat and Doctor Paccard. Their ascent showed what was possible and continues to inspire people. To this day it is still a huge lure attracting people from all over the world.
After three days of preparatory climbs and acclimatisation we’ll head up for our summit attempt. The Gouter route gives the best chance of success on the mountain as it is the easiest to climb after bad weather. We always allow three full days for the summit attempt to give maximum flexibility in case of bad weather and the best chance of getting to the top. This tactic has given us one of the best success rates of any operators on the mountain.
The ascent of Mont Blanc is not a walk ! This common misconception has caused a few issues over the years, and anyone considering Mont Blanc should be aware that a standard ascent involves the following:
2 1/2 hour walk from the Nid'Aigle railway station to the Refuge Tete Rouse. This is often snow-free, but early and late season the paths may be snowy. They are also quite exposed in places. If snowy and icy you may rope-up for one section of the path (1 hour max).
Tete Rousse to summit. Breakfast will usually be taken around 4:30, but if the weather or conditions dictate, an early breakfast at 01:30 may be necessary. After leaving the Tete Rousse we begin with an easy ascent on snowy/rocky paths for 20 minutes. We are normally roped-up on this, but this is only because of the more serious ground to follow. On reaching the Grand Couloir the Guide will make a judgement about whether it is safe to cross. Sometimes stonefall prevents us from going any further. If the Guide is happy then we quickly head across the 50m wide couloir. Once on the other side we scramble up steep tracks, occasionally using in-situ cables, sometimes on snow, and often using our hands. From the Tete Rousse Refuge to the Gouter Refuge takes 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Once at the Gouter we usually take a break in the warmth of the boot room.
From the Gouter to the summit takes 3-4 hours. The terrain begins as a fairly gentle glacial slope. 2 hours after starting we usually stop at the Vallot Bivouac for a break. From there the terrain becomes much steeper and more serious, with an often exposed ridge of snow finally leading to the broad summit. And after all that you then have to come back down ! The descent to the Refuge Gouter takes around 2 hours and we will then stay there for the night to allow us to cross the Grand Couloir in the early morning when the risk of stonefall is lowest. The whole day can easily be 10 hours and is not to be under-estimated.
Descent from the Gouter Refuge to the Ni d'Aigle station takes 3-4 hours.
If the weather is not looking ideal for our proposed summit day we sometimes use the middle day to climb to the Gouter Refuge, before then getting an early start the next day to reach the summit and descend back to the valley before the Grand Couloir becomes too active.
Having personally climbed Mont Blanc well over 35 time I have tried numerous different tactics to maximise the chance of success. This programme is the result - you have two realistic chances of reaching the summit after a proper period of acclimatisation and training. Now all you have to do is make sure that you're fit enough and motivated when you arrive !
6 days of Professional Mountain Guiding and all Guides' expenses
Local transportation (within the course programme)
Hotel/Chalet in Chamonix Valley on Half Board (3 nights)
All Mountain Refuges on Half Board (4 nights)
Travel to Chamonix Valley
Equipment Hire (you can rent most equipment from us, and boots can be hired locally)
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