Climb Mont Blanc – 4810 m
Adventure Base has taken hundreds of clients to the summit of Mont Blanc – the roof of Western Europe, including none other than Sir Richard Branson, Princess Beatrice and Dwain Chambers. Here is what they had to say:
“I’d recommend Dream Guides 100%. I want to be a Dream Guide!” Sir Richard Branson
“The summit was like a dream. It was so overwhelming I began to cry with joy for making it to this magical world at the top of Europe.” Princess Beatrice
“Without Fabio and all the team at Dream Guides in Chamonix I would not have got the job done.” Dwain Chambers
We think that this gives us a pretty good understanding of how to give you the best Mont Blanc experience that money can buy.
SUMMER 2017 COURSES:
We can always accommodate specific date requests so please get in touch if these dates don’t work for you.
Clicking on the ‘Book Now’ button opposite, will open a new tab/window in your browser and direct you to our online tour booking system. Here you can check the course dates and availability
We run the Climb Mont Blanc course from our base in Chamonix, France. Chamonix is an exciting destination for any adventure enthusiast, it is the capital of alpinism and an incredibly inspiring town to visit. Chamonix is easy to access via Geneva International airport which is serviced by most of the major airlines.
- All mountain huts at half-board
- Guides expenses
- 3 Training days and summit of Grand Paradiso (4061m)
- All guiding fees
- In resort transport
- Chalet accommodation (BnB with packed lunch)
- Uplifts according to itinerary
What's not Included
- Transport to/from Chamonix
- Equipment rental
- Travel insurance
- Evening meals when in Chamonix
- Snacks, Bottled water, beers, drinks in huts
Who is this for?
Anyone with a good level of endurance fitness and a sense of adventure. Previous mountaineering experience is a bonus, but not necessary as we teach all required skills during the week. However a good physical coordination and an ability to pick up new skills is crucial to success on Mont Blanc.
Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Western Europe and therefore the altitude makes it hard work. Determination is needed to keep going to the top. While this course is open to beginner mountaineers, please note that that doesn’t mean it’s physically easy – making sure you have a good base fitness level before you get here as it will make the week feel less strenuous and maximise your chances of success.
Accommodation and huts
Our Climb Mont Blanc courses are based out of our Chalet Pele which is located perfectly in Chamonix centre. Rooms are normally on a twin shared basis with others from your course and all rooms are en-suite. The chalet has WIFI, a lounge and spacious dining area as well as a fun atmosphere. There are often other like minded people staying in the chalet who are on various other courses that we offer. Chamonix’s main high street is a short 5 minute stroll away with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes as well as mountaineering shops for any last minute rentals or purchases.
What to expect from mountain huts
They are basic but comfortable. They can cater for vegetarians. Food is usually on a set menu basis (3 course in the evening, hot drink and bread/jam/cereal for breakfast). Often there is no running water and you have to buy water to drink and wash with (no showers). You can usually buy tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, chocolate bars and snacks.
Sleeping arrangements are normally dormitory style bunkbeds (eg 6 people on the bottom, 6 on the top) with blankets or duvets. No sleeping bags are needed but we do recommend bringing a sleeping liner. The huts provide slippers for wearing around the hut. On this course we ask the hut guardians to provide a packed lunch for the team each day.
You can expect a good atmosphere and a stunning view!
We meet in the evening to go through the weather and mountain conditions and the plan for the week. You will meet your Guides and you can ask any questions and go through your kit.
Get to the Rifugio Chabod in Gran Paradiso. The altitude is 2750m and it takes 2 ½ – 3 hours walk from the road (900 m altitude)
In the morning we will sort out any last minute gear rentals / purchases in Chamonix before driving through the tunnel into Italy. Once at the refuge we will rest, have lunch then we have an outdoor session covering walking with crampons, being roped up, and scrambling.
A big day involving a 1,300m altitude ascent of Gran Paradiso. All on snow except the final rocky section to the summit. This is great training for Mont Blanc and will put you in good stead for the main summit attempt later in the week.
We go down to the same hut – this gives us the advantage of leaving unnecessary clothing/equipment there to make our ascent as light as possible. Furthermore staying up at altitude instead of heading all the way down to the valley helps with acclimatization.
Wake up late (7) and by 8.30 after breakfast go down at a gentle pace (2h) to the car, have a stop for an Italian coffee and by 12-13h drive back to Chamonix (1.30 h drive).
Is very important that you can have a good rest in preparation for the coming days.
Day 4 – 6:
Climbing Mt Blanc takes two days, but we add in a spare day in case of bad weather to maximise your chance of success. We start by driving to Les Houches (10min) and then taking uplifts before walking to the Tete Rousse hut (3167m) for an overnight stay, followed by an ascent via the Gouter/Bosses ridge. On the return you will spend the night in the Gouter hut (3813m) and head back to Chamonix on the Saturday. This will depend though on a number of factors, including weather and hut availability.
To maximise your chance of summiting Mont Blanc it is important to get as fit as you possibly can. Good fitness will also make it more fun and less exhausting. The process of training for your goal will help you focus on your goal and having a goal will help you focus on your training. So all in all training is good!
Mountaineering is all about being able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours (typically 5 to 12 hours) and your training should reflect this. Balance is important too as you will spend many hours walking in crampons. For this a good chore strength is important.
The best training you can do is going on long days hill walking as this simulates the real thing as closely as possible and prepares the mind (exercising for long periods in poor weather requires mental strength!). However not everyone has the opportunity to do this and so alternatives such as jogging, cycling and gym workouts are good enough, focusing around balance, chore strength and general endurance.
The focus should be on training Cardiovascular Endurance and so if in the gym, cycling/running/rowing machines are much better than weight training. Try and exercise for up to a couple of hours at a time, 4 times a week. Remember to build up your workouts over time. If you are not used to exercising much, your muscles and joints need time to
build up to avoid injury.
Try and choose an activity that you enjoy and keep a note of what you do and your times – this really helps with keeping the motivation up.
If you are not used to training then your local gym will be able to advise you on a plan and schedule to help you achieve your goals for Mont Blanc.
Consider training for a good couple of months before coming out to the Alps.
The Effects of Altitude
As you climb higher the air gets thinner and so there is less oxygen in each breath you take. This makes exercising much more strenuous than at sea level and so you have to slow down to help compensate. Because you have slowed down, you may feel colder.
Because there is less oxygen in the air as you get higher, this can lead to ‘altitude sickness’ or Acute Mountain Sickness which will feel like the worst hangover you have ever had (headache, nausea, weakness, fatigue, dizziness) and can develop into a very serious and even fatal (in extreme cases) problem.
To avoid these problems, enjoy the climbing and increase our chances of reaching the summit, we need to acclimatise by spending several days and nights at progressively higher altitudes, so our bodies can adapt. This is a very important part of our preparation and is factored in to our itinerary.
1. Ice axe – for general mountaineering (between 50 and 70cm depending on your height)
2. Standard steel mountaineering Crampons – 12 point crampons for general mountaineering with anti-balling plates. Whether strap on or clip on models they must fit your boots well. When buying crampons bring your boots to the shop so they can fit them for you – that way you can avoid buying incompatible ones. Specialised ice climbing crampons are not necessary.
3. Helmet – standard hard plastic climbing helmet.
4. Trekking Poles – We recommend bringing at least 1 trekking pole that can be reduced in size and stored when not needed.
5. Mountaineering B3 Boots and Gaiters – these must fit and be comfortable. If you buy boots try and make sure they are broken in before you arrive to avoid blisters. Your boots should be stiff-soled (also known as B3 grade boots). If your boots are not stiff enough not only will it compromise your comfort when walking/kicking steps in hard snow but also compromise your safety as crampons are more likely to fall off or even break. When buying boots bring your crampons to the shop to make sure they fit well.
Gaiters are essential for keeping snow out of the top of your boots and laces away from your crampons. Boots with built in gaiters work well and generally mean that you don’t need an additional pair.
6. Rucksack – 30-50L with a rain cover feature (even just a thick bin bag) in case of rain.
7. Waterbottle 1L – not a platypus type – they freeze and leak. A light weight thermo bottle for the summit day can be useful too.
8. Harness (adjustable so that it is comfortable over all your layers), with 2 screw gate carabiners.
9. Sun protection including: sunglasses (category 4), goggles, sun hat, Factor 50 High Mountain sunscreen, lip salve/block.
10. 3 sets of socks and thermal tops.
11. Lightweight (GORE-TEX® or similar) hooded top & bottoms – make sure pockets are accessible even when wearing a harness.
12. Warm hat and 2 pairs of gloves. One pair should be warm, thick mountaineering gloves suitable for conditions at 5000m. The second pair should be a thinner pair that is suitable for mid mountain conditions.
13. Insulating layers. We suggest a thin ‘100’ weight fleece and a synthetic duvet jacket. I think a synthetic or down duvet jacket is perfect because you can put it over all your other layers (including GORE-TEX®) if it is really cold without taking anything off. This is very quick and very warm and practical. If you don’t have a down jacketthen make sure you have 1 or 2 thick fleece layers instead.
14. Mountaineering trousers – there are many brands of wind proof/water resistant trousers for hillwalking/mountaineering. ‘Schoeller’ fabric garments are great but there lots of other good ones too. Bring a pair of lightweight thermal leggings (longjons) too – it can be very chilly on the summit day.
15. Personal first aid – blister kit, aspirin, or Paracetamol.
16. Head torch and spare batteries.
17. Earplugs (there is always someone snoring at night!)
18. Sleeping bag liner for huts (you don’t need a sleeping bag itself as blankets/duvets are provided)
19. Cash (euros) for extra drinks / snacks in huts (allow €20 per hut night but you may well not spend it!)
20. ID, Snack food, if you have an alpine membership card its worth bringing that too. You may also want to bring a small bag of your favourite tea bags as tea bags in the huts are often a bit weak.
Remember: kit should be lightweight but functional – you have to carry it!
We can offer equipment rental once you arrive in Chamonix but please let us know in advance as we have limited stock. Alternatively you can rent almost all of the above from our partners at Concept Pro Shop Chamonix.
Please note this is a guide and you may be required to rent or purchase last minute equipment on arrival dependent on the weather and changes in itinerary.
A word on the weather:
The summer of 2015 saw unusually high temperatures in the Alps which resulted in the Gouter hut shutting due to dangerous rock fall in the Gouter couloir. Climate warming is causing the 0 Degree isotherm to rise which melts the ice that holds the rocks together, and thus increases rock fall. We are hoping for a cooler summer without similar problems to last year, but if conditions in the couloir do not allow an ascent we will need to adapt and opt for similar, equally beautiful ascents.
The climbing season runs from mid June to mid September and between those dates there is no better or worse time to attempt the climb. The beginning and end of the season can be snowy/ cold, and the middle months can be busier and the hotter temperatures can cause afternoon storms.
Summit success varies from season to season but remains consistent throughout the different months. If the weather shuts us down, we will endeavour to find the closest mountain in the area with better weather, and thanks to our location we are generally able to find an equally beautiful alternative within driving distance in France, Italy or Switzerland.
To find out more about our course, availability, or to ask any questions, please get in touch through the website or by phone on +33 (0)845 527 58 12.
We take a 20% deposit to secure your place on one of our Climb Mont Blanc courses, and we ask for the balance to be paid latest 6 weeks before the course start date.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue. Please note your insurance must cover you in both Italy and France.
Make sure that it covers glaciated mountaineering and climbing up to heights of 4810m. We recommend the Dogtag (www.dogtag.co.uk) – they have comprehensive policies and a good reputation.
Getting to Chamonix
It is best to book flights and airport transfers well in advance of your departure.
Easyjet offer many flights to Geneva International from all over the UK and the rest of Europe. Swiss Air and British Airways also offer flights from London to Geneva.
Booking a place on a minibus airport transfer service is by far the best way to get from Geneva airport to Chamonix (it takes about an hour or so, is cost effective and is a door to door service). We can book your airport transfers at a competitive rate – just email us with your flight details…
Will I definitely make it to the summit?
In short, no. Whilst we will always strive to get you to the summit safely, sometimes the weather or the conditions of the mountain don’t play ball. When there is precipitation, high winds and low visibility for example, we cannot guarantee reaching the summit and will sometimes recommend an alternative. Each Mont Blanc course has a lead guide. The lead guide will always conduct a meeting with the clients and other guides the day before the Mont Blanc ascent is due to begin (Usually on Wednesday upon returning to Chamonix from Gran Paradiso). During this meeting the latest weather forecast, conditions of the mountain, and the clients own ability to reach the summit will be discussed. Clients and guides alike will voice their opinions and/or concerns at the time and then decide how best to proceed. We fully trust our guides to make these final decisions based on their years of experience on the mountain. They are entrusted to make the final call and the client must accept any decision made. All decisions will have client safety as a top priority.
What type of boots do I need for Mont Blanc?
You will need B3 mountaineering boots for Mont Blanc. All mountaineering boots are graded in a B1, B2, B3 system. B3 boots are the most rigid, and therefore most suitable for walking on snow with crampons.
Can I store my belongings with Adventure Base when I’m in the huts?
Yes. From when you arrive till when you depart you are allocated a room in our Chamonix chalet and this will not be occupied by anyone else during that period. Please note rooms are usually allocated on a twin share basis, in most cases sharing with others from your course.
Is there wifi in the mountain huts?
No. All mountain huts are fairly basic and do not have access to WIFI. Some huts will have phone signal and some will even have 3g signal but we cannot guarantee this will work at all times.
What are the mountain huts like?
The mountain huts we use for our Mont Blanc course are fairly basic but comfortable. You will sleep in dormitories on a shared basis, usually 6-8 per room. The huts provide breakfast, lunch and a 3 course dinner. In Gran Paradiso we tend to use the Refugio Chabod. On Mont Blanc we tend to use the Refuge de Tete Rousse and the Gouter Refuge.
What kind of fitness level do I need?
You need to be able to hike for 6-8 hours at a moderate pace. Mountaineering is all about having good cardiovascular endurance to be able to continue being active for long periods. As well as this you will need to have a good head for heights and good overall body balance.
Do I need to have previous experience?
This is a hot topic and based on our extensive experience we are confident to say that you do not need any previous experience to climb Mont Blanc, However: You must be in good shape as per the previous FAQ ‘What kind of fitness level do I need’ and you must also be prepared to accept that if you are not fit enough your guide will have no option but to turn you around. Your safety is always our top priority and therefore you must have a good level of cardiovascular endurance in order to keep up with the required pace for a Mont Blanc ascent. You must also be able to learn new skills quickly and have an ability to develop new skills, such as walking with crampons whilst attached to your guide with a rope. These are skills we will teach during your first 3 days with us, prior to your Mont Blanc ascent. This training period is also an opportunity for your guide to evaluate your skills and capability to climb Mont Blanc.
What size backpack should I bring?
Your backpack should be no bigger than 50l and no smaller than 30l. It is important that your backpack has an ice axe strap to stash your ice axe when you are not using it. Your backpack must also have a rain-proof cover.
What are the guides like?
All of our guides are highly experienced and friendly people. They have all been hand picked by us over the many years we’ve been in the guiding industry. Our guides all speak a good level of English and are very attentive. Their primary role is to get you to the summit safely, but they also provide a high level of customer service along the way and are very interesting people to spend time with. They like to share their knowledge of the mountains and their experiences, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and pick their brains. Lastly, they know the route on Mont Blanc like the back of their hands and this is the most important thing when it comes down to making key decisions in the mountains and providing the safest experience for our clients.
What will we do if the weather is bad?
This depends on a few factors and how bad the weather actually is. Should Mont Blanc be unsafe, we will study the conditions on other peaks in the Alps, like Monta Rosa. Should conditions be a lot better elsewhere, we will propose this to you as an option.
Strong high winds – this means reaching the summit is unlikely. High winds on the final stretch to the summit is dangerous and therefore a summit success is very unlikely. In the case of high winds we will look for suitable alternatives in the mid-mountain range. There are some great mountaineering routes in the Aiguilles Rouges range for example.
Precipitation – When it snows on Mont Blanc it usually means a summit attempt will be difficult. Route finding in a snow storm is generally unsafe. An attempt will depend on the thickness of the snowfall and it will also greatly depend on the wind.
Whiteout – A cloudy whiteout will make a summit attempt difficult. Route finding in a whiteout is generally unsafe and therefore we will encourage you to consider an alternative.
Heat – When it’s been very warm for a long period of time on Mont Blanc the Gouter couloir tends to become unsafe due to rock fall. The local authorities are quick to issue warnings when the couloir becomes unsafe and it has been known in recent summers that the Gouter route to Mont Blanc has been closed. We will always listen and obey local warnings as a matter of respect to the mountain community. You will hear of people climbing Mont Blanc even when warnings have been issued but these will be unguided attempts and thats when accidents tend to happen.
How many clients per guide?
For the three training days at the beginning of the week we have a 4 client:1 guide ratio. For your Mont Blanc attempt our ratio is 2 clients:1 guide.
Why choose Adventure Base?
3 reasons to choose Adventure Base for all your mountain adventures.
1. Safety means success – We have been guiding clients on Mont Blanc for over 8 years with a very high safety and success rate. To date we have had no major incidents or injuries. This is due to us taking great care in training our clients and then monitoring the weather and mountain conditions closely.
2. Fun times – We believe in fun times. Climbing mountains is a serious challenge. But who says it can’t be fun too? Our guides are full of energy, fun facts and big smiles. They help create lasting memories.
3. Word of Mouth – Over 70% of new clients have been recommended to us by a friend or colleague. We don’t spend big on marketing campaigns, we stay true to our product, we pay attention to every detail and then let you do the talking.