France on the tour de mont blanc |  <i>martin bell</i> Walking up to Aguille du tour, France  |  <i>Neill Prothero</i> Spectacular views in the Mont Blanc region |  <i>Erin Williams</i> Walking in deep snow on tour glacier, Mont blanc |  <i>Neill Prothero</i>
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Mont Blanc Ascent

Climbing Mont Blanc

Clearly visible above the beautiful mountain town of Chamonix, Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe (4,810m/15,780ft), was first climbed in 1786, and the ascent gave birth to modern day mountaineering. Now a mecca for budding mountaineers, the peak and surrounding areas offer world class alpine trekking and climbing opportunities, right in the heart of Europe.

Bovine Pass, Mont Blanc Guided Walk -  Photo: Sylvia Sproll The town centre of Chamonix, France  -  Photo: Neill Prothero Trek down from Mont Blanc -  Photo: Neill Prothero Crampons, Mt Blanc -  Photo: Neill Prothero High in the French Alps above Chamonix -  Photo: Anetta Rybak

Routes for Climbing Mont Blanc

There are two main routes for climbing Mont Blanc, the Gouter ‘normal route’ and the ‘Trois Monts’, both of which are rated Alpine grade PD (‘peu difficile’ ‑ not very difficult). We recommend the Gouter route as it generally has the highest success rate for reaching the summit and is considered to be the safer route. Check out this article on the British Mountaineering Council's website for more information on the routes.

Who is it suitable for?

Whilst the range has attracted the attention of world class alpinists worldwide for its challenging routes for centuries, there are also many options available to the novice climber under the guidance of experienced guides.
Mt Blanc is often underestimated, a high level of fitness and experience walking/scrambling over uneven and steep terrain is essential, as you will need to do so at a good speed. A good speed is the ability to walk/ascend 400m in 1 hour at altitudes in excess of 3,000m. To participate in the Mont Blanc Ascent prior mountaineering experience is an advantage but not essential, most important is an excellent fitness level, with a good level of experience walking in the mountains on snow/ice. The walking is often on uneven rock and ice, with exposed sections of trail for a vast majority of the climb, balance and tenacity are very important.
You can expect to hike for 6 to 12 hour days with up to 800 to 1,600 metre vertical gains in elevation. The snow slopes will be up to 35‑40 degrees in parts and there is also rock climbing involved in some sections - this combined with exposure and possibly adverse weather conditions can be difficult for those who have not experienced this type of climbing before. Additionally you will be wearing stiff mountaineering boots and crampons which take some getting used to.

Preparing for your Mont Blanc Ascent

The best preparation for this ascent is extended periods of hard paced walking with a pack in mountainous terrain. Legs and lungs should be the focus, as mentioned above the ability to ascend quickly at a rate of 400m in one hour is a minimum requirement. If you are not fit and strong your chances of summitting are vastly reduced. Remember it is up to your guided to decide whether or not you are fit to attempt the summit.
You should aim to start your preparation six months or more in advance of taking the trip. Practice on uneven ground, so that you are accustomed to uneven footings, basic rock climbing, and at the least, scrambling should also be a part of your training regime. Incorporating running and cycling in hilly regions into your programme will further prepare you well for this trip. You can learn the technical skills to get you to the top in your final days of training; however your fitness and preparation is your responsibility and key to a successful climb.

Walking tracks, Mont Blanc -  Photo: Neill Prothero The views are always worth it on the Tour de Mont Blanc -  Photo: Karolina Szydlowska Dome de gouter at dawn, France -  Photo: Neill Prothero

The Mont Blanc Ascent Trip

The eight-day itinerary is designed to allow fit and experienced walkers, who have little or no experience in alpine skills, to appreciate the exhilaration of summiting an alpine peak. Acclimatisation and basic technical training are part of our programme for the first three days as we venture into the mountains, crossing beautiful glaciers under a stunning backdrop of snowy peaks and jagged mountains. During these days our guides will train you in the use of an ice axe, crampons and basic rope techniques. Fully prepared, we focus on our ascent of Mont Blanc.
We schedule three days for the climb, allowing us two chances of reaching the summit, giving our groups a significant advantage and better chance of success. Travelling in teams of two clients to one guide during the ascent, and often roped up, you will learn to work as a team and move together efficiently in a challenging mountain environment. Summit day is a long and tiring day, however the views from the summit are magnificent and more than just reward for our efforts.

  • Three days of alpine skills training on the spectacular Aiguille du Tour and Petite Fourche.
  • Four-star accommodation in the heart of Chamonix when not on the mountain (Three nights, twin share).
  • Three days allocated for the summit bid to give a higher summit success rate.
  • All lifts, cable cars and transfers included. Breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners.
  • Four nights full board accommodation in mountain huts.
  • Qualified high altitude mountain guide (ratio of 1 guide to 2 6 climbers from days 2 4 and 1 guide to 2 climbers on days 5 7).
  • All common climbing gear (ropes, carabiners etc).

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