As the highest peak in Western Europe, towering over the alpine villages of Chamonix, France and Courmayer, Italy, Mont-Blanc dominates daily life in these quaint European villages and it is considered by many to be the birthplace of climbing in the Alps. An ascent of Mont-Blanc is a big and engaging challenge, and a superb mountaineering expedition to climb to the summit of a fabled and storied mountain. First ascended in 1786, Mont-Blanc maintains the same allure today as it did almost 250 years ago. Given its stunning beauty, the pristine villages located at its base, and its prominence as the Alps’ high point, it is a must on any alpine climbers or mountaineers ‘tick list’.
A uniquely European climbing experience, with relatively easy access due to the trams, lifts, and mountain huts that begin in the Chamonix valley, our 7-Day program run by Colorado Mountain School IFMGA / UIAGM Certified Mountain Guides, allows time for both training and acclimatization, while also getting to climb and enjoy some other great area alpine peaks along the way !!!
High level of cardiovascular fitness and mountain endurance
Experience with ice axe, crampons, and snow climbing
Completion of a CMS Intro to Mountaineering Course or similar
Previous experience climbing a big glaciated mountain like Rainier, Denali, or Aconcagua preferred
OR acceptable personal climbing resume
By the standard routes, Mont Blanc is not an overly technical peak, but it does involve some steep rocky scrambling and high altitude glacier trekking that folks regularly underestimate. In addition, summit day can be up to 12+ hours long and at altitude, so you should be physically and mentally prepared for a very considerable challenge.
Because of this it is imperative that to be successful you will need to arrive for your Mont Blanc climb, rested but fit from months of prior training. Training in a gym does not replicate climbing a mountain, so it is far preferable to spend time mountain hiking, ideally on broken rocky ground with some scrambling and a 15-25 lb. pack on. We can also arrange training courses in both the Colorado Front Range & The Alps to help you prepare. Running, long distance cycling, or any other long endurance events will be a useful addition to the time you spend training in the mountains.
There is a tough physical reality to climbing Mont-Blanc which can not be avoided with a determined mental approach. You will need the latter as well but it's no use if you simply don't have the legs. We are aiming to summit with some style, as well as to have a decent margin of safety, and your high fitness level is perhaps the main factor in achieving this.
Price includes & Excludes:
- All IFMGA/UIAGM Licensed Mountain Guides from CMS
- Lodging in Mountain Huts; Chamonix; and Zermatt
- Meals while in mountain huts
- Lift Tickets
- Lodging while in Chamonix
- Meals while in Chamonix
- Global Rescue Insurance
- Equipment rentals (if needed)
This is a suggested itinerary, however based on conditions at the time of the climb it may be necessary for our guides to change the program flow to make best use of local mountain weather, conditions, teams experience and availability of hut bookings.
Day 1: Meet you guides in the middle of the afternoon, go through introductions, and get an overview of the week ahead. Final equipment checks will also be made and there will be time in the evening to do any last minute gear purchases or equipment rentals that may be necessary. We will then enjoy an expedition 'kick-off' dinner at one of the excellent restaurants in the town of Chamonix.
Day 2: After meeting after breakfast around 0800, we will grab a ride up valley to the small ski village of 'Le Tour'. From here we'll ride lifts to help us walk a few hours to the newly renovated Albert Premier Hut (2711m). The Tour Glacier, very close to the hut, is a great venue for alpine skills & glacier training and becoming familiar with your crampons and other mountaineering equipment, and simple crevasse rescue procedures.
Day 3: After a pre-dawn alpine start, as the sun rises we will attempt to climb one of several 3500m peaks on the French / Swiss border on the upper Le Tour glacier, such as the Tete Blanche or Petite Fourche. Majestic views to the Matterhorn & other peaks of the Swiss Valais Alps stretch out below. We will then descend into Switzerland and on to the huge Trient Glacier, along the way practicing roped glacier travel as we head to the Trient Hut (3710m) for a 2nd night sleeping at altitude.
Day 4: Another pre-dawn start has us on our journey back to the French side of the Massif, climbing the 3500m Aiguille du Tour en route. The combination of high altitude glacier travel & mixed / rocky scrambling is excellent preparation for Mt Blanc. We then will descend the lifts of Le Tour back to Chamonix in the late afternoon, and spend the rest of the day sorting any equipment issues in preparation for the Mont Blanc climb ahead...
Day 5: If the weather allows, a deliberately leisurely start around mid-morning is made to allow maximum rest time before the ascent of Mont Blanc begins. From Les Houches, a short ride from Chamonix,
we take the Bellevue Telecabine and the Tramway du Mont Blanc train to begin our scenic approach to the Tete Rousse Hut (3167m) spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing under the shadow of Mont Blanc's Gouter Ridge, and talking through the route & strategy for the following day's big summit day.
Day 6: After a breakfast at around 0400 we will head off to the rock scrambling of the Gouter Ridge, and the big sweeping glaciers of the upper mountain. Timings for the summit day are imperative to make success a reality, and they revolve around ~ 2 hour intervals: ~2 hours climbing to the Gouter Hut, ~ 2 hours climbing to the emergency bivouac of the Vallot Hut, and another ~2 hours from to the summit....This is where your training pays off!
The ascent of Mont Blanc provides a long and tough high mountain day and is not to be underestimated.
We will then descend the upper mountain glaciers to the higher Gouter Hut, relieving some of the time pressure for the day and allowing us to cross the infamous and dangerous Grand Couloir again under the shade and darkness of early morning the next day.
Day 7: After a 0700 breakfast the scrambling descent of the Gouter Ridge can be done on fresh legs and in the cool & calm of the early morning period when the Grand Couloir can be crossed before the arrival of the sun. We the continue our descent down to the Nid d'agile trains and lifts down to the Chamonix Valley. We aim to be back in the town of Chamonix by mid-afternoon, and folks can unpack, shower, and rest up before enjoying an expedition 'wrap-up' dinner as a team. If needed folks can also male travel plans to catch a late evening flight home out of Geneva International Airport (1.5 hours form Chamonix) as well.
In addition, if the weather did not allow for a summit attempt on Day 5, then this final day can also act as a 2nd possible option for the summit day with a necessary super early alpine start of 0200.
· 25% deposit due with an accepted application
· Balance due 90 days before Day 1 of trip
Expedition Cancellation Policy:
· A non-refundable $100 application fee will not be refunded from your initial deposit.
· 100% (minus application fee) will be refunded 120 days prior to trip start.
· 50% (minus application fee) will be refunded 91 to 119 days before trip start.
· 25% (minus application fee) will be refunded 46 to 90 days before trip start.
· 0% will be refunded 0 to 45 days before trip start.