This itinerary is based on good weather and mountain conditions as well as hut availability. Sometimes we may opt for 2 consecutive nights in the Tete Rousse or Gouter hut or another variety of huts or days allocated to climbing Mont Blanc. Should an ascent of Mont Blanc not be possible due to dangerous conditions or bad weather, we will provide alternative options.
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.
You will meet with your guide for a briefing in the evening to go through the plan for the week, as well as to discuss the current weather and mountain conditions. Here you will have a chance to go through your kit under the experienced eye of your guide and can ask any questions that you may have.
Depart for Gran Paradiso National Park
After breakfast you depart for Italy to the Rifugio Chabod in Gran Paradiso National Park (1 hr 30 mins drive). Before leaving you will sort out any last minute gear rentals / purchases in Chamonix. You set off on the trek up to the mountain hut mid-morning and will arrive at Rifugio Chabod at 2750m altitude around lunchtime. Once at the mountain hut, you will can tuck into a tasty Italian lunch and, if time and weather permits, have an outdoor session covering basic introduction to your equipment.
7km / 900m up / 0m down / 3 hours Trekking
Climb Gran Paradiso
A big day involving a 1,300m altitude ascent of Gran Paradiso, the highest peak entirely in Italy (4061m). The ascent is mostly on snow except the moraine after the mountain hut, and the final rocky section of scrambling to the summit (5-7 hours). 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 is a test and will put you in good stead for the main summit attempt of Mont Blanc later in the week. After the summit you will return to the Rifugio Chabod, where you can order a hearty lunch to refuel after all that effort, and then relax for the afternoon and evening. By staying in Rifugio Chabod both nights it gives the advantage of leaving unnecessary clothing/equipment there to make the 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.
8km / 1300m up / 1300m down / 6-8 hours Mountaineering
Return to Chamonix
Wake up at around 07:00 for breakfast before descending around 8:30 back down to the valley. You will be transferred back to Chamonix to arrive around lunchtime (1 hr 30 mins drive). It is very important that you can have a good rest in the afternoon in preparation for the coming days. We will also finalise any equipment changes.
7km / 0m up / 900m down / 2-3 hours Trekking
Begin the Mont Blanc Climb
Climbing Mont Blanc takes two days. We start by driving to Les Houches (10 min) and then taking uplifts on the Bellevue cable car followed by the Tramway du Mont Blanc train to the Refuge du Nid d’Aigle which sits at 2372m. From here we hike to the Tête Rousse hut (3167m) for an overnight stay in preparation for our summit attempt the following morning.
In early season, if the cablecar or train aren’t running, we will arrange a 4×4 transfer to Bellevue.
4km / 700m up / 0m down / 2 hours
On summit day we wake up very early and ascend to the summit of Mont Blanc. This will take between 8-10 hours depending on conditions and your physical ability. On the descent from the summit, we spend the night in the Goûter hut (3813m). By having this second night in the Goûter hut we are less in a rush to make it down to the valley or the Tête Rousse hut, and it also means we cross the Grand Couloir early the following day. These are all carefully considered factors that we’ve analysed over many years guiding this route to maximise your chance of a successful summit.
10km / 1700m up / 1000m down / 8-10 hours
Return to Chamonix (possible spare summit day*)
In the morning we descend from the Goûter 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. The descent normally takes around 4-5 hours. We then drive back to the Chamonix and that signals the end of the climb. This will normally be around 13:00-14:00 in the afternoon. 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, epic stories and future plans.
*For those who have a high level of fitness and solid technical skills, there is a the possibility to summit Mont Blanc from Refuge du Gouter and return back down to the Nid d’Aigle in one day (in the case of bad weather on summit day) but this option is only for those who have a high level of fitness and technical skills due to the time required for such an endeavour, and the importance of being able to descend the Grand Couloir safely in an able (and not exhausted) state.
7km / 0m up / 1500m down / 4 hours
Depart. After one last hearty breakfast we sadly bid farewell. Check-out is at 10am.