Climb Mont Blanc – 4810 m
Climb Mont Blanc (4810m) the highest peak in Western Europe. It’s a beautiful, imposing and highly sought after summit, a majestic peak that sits at the roof of the Alps on the border of France and Italy. With magnificent views across the rest of the Alps from the summit, Mont Blanc entices mountaineers from all over the world year after year.
Although an impressive and imposing mountain, it is a feasible objective if you have a good level of fitness and previous hill walking experience. That said, it is not to be underestimated. The climb is a challenge for any mountaineer, from beginners to the very experienced.
We have taken hundreds of clients to the summit of Mont Blanc – the highest point in Western Europe, including none other than Sir Richard Branson, Princess Beatrice and Dwain Chambers.
Here is what they had to say:
“I’d recommend Adventure Base 100%. I want to be an AB 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 Adventure Base in Chamonix I would not have got the job done.” Dwain Chambers
SUMMER 2018 DEPARTURES NOW AVAILABLE, CLICK ‘BOOK NOW’!
Do you feel like you may need a little extra training before the climb?
Add our 3 day Alpine Skills Short Break course prior to your climb. Get 10% off our bitesize course when booking together with a Mont Blanc climb.
Please contact us for more details.
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.
- 4 nights mountain huts at half-board (Breakfast and 3 course evening meal)
- 3 nights Chamonix accommodation on B&B. En suite room on twin shared basis.
- All of your guide’s expenses
- 3 Training days and summit of Grand Paradiso (4061m)
- All guiding fees
- All transport
What's not Included
- Transport to/from Chamonix
- Equipment rental
- Travel insurance
- Lunch when in the huts
- Evening meals when in Chamonix
- Uplifts according to itinerary
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 close to all the rental shops, restaurants and bars. Rooms are normally on a twin shared basis with others from your course. All rooms are en-suite and very comfortable. The chalet has free WIFI, a lounge and spacious dining area as well as a fun mountain 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 but please let us know in advance. Food is served on a set menu basis (3 course in the evening, hot drink and bread/jam/cereal for breakfast). There is no running water in the huts on Mont Blanc so you have to buy water to drink and wash with (no showers). Although in Gran Paradiso the huts have running water and hot showers are available. You can buy tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, chocolate bars and snacks as well as warm lunches in the huts.
Sleeping arrangements are normally dormitory style bunkbeds with blankets or duvets provided. No sleeping bags are needed but we do recommend bringing a thin sleeping liner. The huts provide slippers for wearing around the hut.
You can always expect a good atmosphere and a stunning view.
We meet in the evening to go through the plan for the week as well as the current weather and mountain conditions. You will meet your guides and you can ask any questions and go through your kit.
Please note: This itinerary is a guide only.
Depart for the Rifugio Chabod in Gran Paradiso (1hr30mins drive). The altitude of the hut is 2750m and it takes 2 ½ – 3 hours walk from the road (900 m altitude gain)
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 crampon techniques, being roped up, using all gear correctly and essential scrambling techniques.
A big day involving a 1,300m altitude ascent of Gran Paradiso, the highest peak entirely in Italy (4061m). The ascent is all on snow except a final rocky section of scrambling to the summit (5-7hours). It is a spectacular summit and this is great training for Mont Blanc because a lot of similar techniques are required on both peaks. The climb will put you in good stead for the main summit attempt later in the week.
After the summit 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 your acclimatisation process.
Wake up at around 07:00 and by 8.30 after breakfast we descend at a gentle pace (2hours) to the valley. On our drive back we can have a stop for an Italian coffee and snack and by 12-13h arrive back to Chamonix (1hr30mins drive).
It is very important that you can have a good rest in the afternoon in preparation for the coming days.
Climbing Mont 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 on the Bellevue cable car followed by the Tramway du Mont Blanc train to Refuge du Nid d’Aigle which sits at 2372m. From here we hike to the Tete Rousse hut (3167m) for an overnight stay, followed by an ascent of Mont Blanc via the Gouter route the following morning.
On summit day we wake up early and ascend to the summit of Mont Blanc. This will take between 8-12 hours depending on conditions and your physical ability. On the descent from the summit, we spend the night in the Gouter hut (3813m). By having this second night in the Gouter hut we are less in a rush to make it down to the valley or the Tete Rousse hut, and it also means we again cross the Grand Couloir early the following day. Crossing the couloir early can mean it is less active with rock fall. These are all carefully considered factors that we’ve analysed over many years guiding this route to maximise your chance of a successful summit.
We descend from the Gouter hut (3813m) to the Refuge du Nid d’Aigle (2372m) and take the Tramway du Mont Blanc followed by the Bellevue cable car down to Les Houches. We then drive back to the chalet and you are free to go. No matter what happens you will always be back in Chamonix before 17:00.
If you wish to depart straight away that’s fine, but we welcome you to spend the final night in our chalet at no extra charge. Usually everyone heads out into Chamonix for dinner together on the final evening to round off the week. Our guides join and the atmosphere is always one of celebration, relief, stories and future plans.
Depart. Check out is at 10:00, and after one last hearty breakfast from our chalet staff we sadly bid farewell.
Please note: This itinerary is based on good weather and mountain conditions. Should an ascent of Mont Blanc not be possible due to dangerous conditions or bad weather, we strive to provide suitable alternatives such as climbing in the Monta Rosa range on the Swiss/Italian border where there are many 4000ers and the experience is equally as challenging and spectacular.
During June and July we may opt for the Italian normal route (via rifugio Gonella) if conditions allow. It is a stunning alternative route to the Gouter route and is often much less frequented.
To maximise your chance of summiting Mont Blanc it is important to get as fit as you possibly can. So we have partnered with Uphill Athlete, specialists in strength and conditioning for peak mountain performance.
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.
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.
We highly recommend this 8 week training plan for Mont Blanc to get you in shape for the trip.
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 also 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 and 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.
Pre-Book with Adventure Base:
Black Diamond Saber-tooth crampon rental 6 days €45.00
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe rental 6 days €35.00
Black Diamond climbing harness rental 6 days €30.00
Black Diamond Half Dome helmet rental 6 days €25.00
Select which extras you would like to pre-book at check-out. Please note we have limited stock so pre-booking is advised.
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) hardshell hooded top and 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 lightweight fleece and a synthetic or down jacket. A synthetic or down 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 jacket then 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 and there are 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.
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 climbing season runs from mid June to late 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 +44 (0)845 527 58 12.
A 20% deposit is required to secure your place on one of our Climb Mont Blanc courses, with the balance to be paid latest 8 weeks before the course start date.
We need a minimum of two climbers to confirm a Mont Blanc course. Your booking will remain pending if you are the first to book onto a course and we will send you a confirmation as soon as the course is confirmed to run. We recommend not booking flights until the course is confirmed. We will confirm the course at the latest 8 weeks before the 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 Dogtag (www.dogtag.co.uk) – they have comprehensive policies and a good reputation. You can also try the British Mountaineering Council. For US residents we recommend Travel Guard.
Getting to Chamonix
British Airways, Swiss Air and Easyjet offer many flights to Geneva International from all over the UK and the rest of Europe.
Booking a place on a minibus airport transfer service is by far the best way to get from Geneva airport to Chamonix (1hour). We recommend CVT Transfers and you can book directly by clicking here: http://adventurebase.cvt.ski
If you are booking a transfer to Chamonix the address of your accommodation in Chamonix is Chalet Pele, Route des Pelerins, Chamonix, 74400. You will be allocated an en suite bedroom for the duration of your trip on a twin share basis.
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 and back 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 a B2 or B3 mountaineering boot 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, and B2 boots are a little more comfortable but less rigid and also less warm.
Are ski/snowboard trousers suitable?
Ski/snowboard trousers aren’t suitable for the conditions on Mont Blanc. You’ll need a pair of mountaineering trousers (soft shell) as well as a waterproof hard shell pair that are lightweight and not insulated. Conditions can be harsh especially on the summit days so it’s important to have these two layers. We also recommend to bring lightweight thermal leggings. Read through our kit list for a full description of what you’ll need to bring.
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 followed by the Gouter Refuge.
What kind of fitness level do I need?
You need to be able to hike comfortably with a heavy pack for up to 10 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 and awareness.
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.
Crucial to success 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. Think light-weight, remember you have to carry it!
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 are of various nationalities but all speak a good level of English and are very attentive. Their primary role is to get you to the summit and back 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 winds of 50km+ – this means reaching the summit is very unlikely. High winds on the final ridge to the summit is dangerous and therefore summit success is very unlikely. In the case of high winds we will look for suitable alternatives in the mid-mountain range or elsewhere in the Alps. There are some great mountaineering routes in the Aiguilles Rouges range for example. It is also unlikely that a helicopter will be able to fly in a rescue situation if there are high winds, which adds to the risk.
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. It depends on the thickness of the cloud and we will most likely attempt a summit but turn back if necessary.
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 regular 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 always be unguided and unsafe attempts.
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 9 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 40% 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.
“Climbing Mont Blanc is a great all round experience. Standing on the roof of the Alps is a truly unforgettable experience. Not to mention the sunrise over the Chamonix Aiguilles when traversing the dome du Gouter – a mind-blowing view! A nice extra is we spend the first 3 days training and acclimatising on Gran Paradiso, giving our clients the chance to summit two 4000m peaks in just one week” – Fabio, Lead Guide and IFMGA Guide”
“I had a fantastic week. It was so well planned out, and my guide David was amazing. We talked pretty much the whole way and climbed at my speed. He was very good at relaxing me during difficult situations. The accommodation on the mountains was a surprise. They’re really comfortable and great fill me up food. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and would recommend to anyone!” – Nicholas P., Summer 2016”
“As a first time mountaineer, climbing Mont Blanc was one of the most exhilarating, challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. I think it’s great that we get the opportunity to summit two 4,000m+ peaks. The organisation was generally great, and the customer service was first class. I would definitely recommend Adventure Base to anyone considering mountaineering / a life experience and, in fact, have already done so.” – Mark L., Summer 2016”
“Thank you for an unforgettable weekend climbing the Gran Paradiso. I can’t praise or recommend your guide Chris highly enough. Not only is he super safe and really knows his stuff he is also super bright and incredibly interesting. The weekend totally exceeded my expectations. In summary, I can’t recommend him highly enough. He is an excellent advert for Adventure Base and I will certainly be booking him again if I have the chance.” – Anna F., Summer 2016”