Overview:

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!!!

Prerequisites:

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

Preparation:

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.

Time:

Full & Alpine Style Days

Duration:

7 Days

Maximum Ratio:

4:2 Max

Minimum Age:

18

Notes:

Payment Schedule:
· 50% 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.

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.

Price Includes:

  • All IFMGA/UIAGM Licensed Mountain Guides from CMS
  • Lodging in Mountain Huts; Chamonix; and Zermatt
  • Meals while in mountain huts
  • Lift Tickets

Price Excludes:

  • Lodging while in Chamonix
  • Meals while in Chamonix
  • Global Rescue Insurance
  • Equipment rentals (if needed)

Item Description Quantity Example Purchase At Rent At Equipment Type
Autoblock

This is a small sewn loop to assist in rappelling. The #1 choice on the market is the Sterling Hollowblock, or the Sterling Autoblock.

1

Sterling Auto Block

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Baselayer Bottoms

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Lightweight or mid-weight are recommended.

1

Men: Rab Merino 120 Pants
Women: Rab Merino 120 Pants

Rab Mountaineering

Clothing
Beanie/Fleece Hat

Should cover the ears and fit under a helmet. Hats with fluff balls on top do not fit under helmets.

1

Rab Logo Beanie

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Belay Gloves

Leather gloves, either full fingered or fingerless. These protect your hands from rope wear when belaying or rappelling and keep your hands warm at belays.

1

CAMP Axion

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Belay/Rappel Device

Plaquette style devices with auto-block mode are ideal.

1

CAMP Piu 2

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Climbing Harness

UIAA/CE approved; With belay loop and gear loops. The waist belt should fit over multiple layers of clothing.

1

CAMP Laser CR

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Compass

Used for navigation and orientation. A compass with adjustable declination is preferrable.

1

Silva Ranger CLQ

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Double-length Sewn Runner

48" or 120cm. Used for rappelling, making leashes, and improvised rescue.

1-2

CAMP 11mm Express Dyneema

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ear Plugs

Sometimes fellow campers snore. Ear plugs may help you get quality rest.

1

Foam ear plugs

Optional
First Aid Kit

Your guide will have an emergency First Aid Kit. You should bring a small kit including blister prevention and care products such as a role of athletic tape and Moleskin. Your kit should also contain a few Band-aids, some Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Food

Proper lunches that are prepared ahead of time are recommended (sandwich, burrito, leftover pizza, etc), along with an assortment of snack bars, gels, and/or trail mixes. Feeze-dried meals are acceptable on overnight trips, but not day trips.

1

Made in Nature, Thrive Tribe

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Gaiters

These are instrumental when wearing crampons. They protect your softshell pants from getting ripped and keep snow out of your boots.

1

RAB Latok Extreme

RAb Store

Clothing
Headlamp

Load with fresh batteries. Critical for hiking before sunrise and great to have in the pack in case you are caught out after dark.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Heavyweight Waterproof Glove

This glove comes out when the winter going gets cold and wet or at higher altitudes.

1

RAB Alliance

Rab Store

Clothing
Hot Drinks

Coffee, tea, hot cocoa are great for warming up when it's cold outside.

1

Cusa Tea; Alpine Start Coffee

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Lightweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Worn against the skin and is considered a "wicking" layer that facilitates the movement of moisture away from the skin and through the layers. Hooded base layers add extra versatility.

2

Men: Rab Merino 120 Long Sleeve
Women: Rab Merino 120 Long Sleeve

Rab Store

Clothing
Lightweight Gloves

Synthetic; Thin gloves used when hiking the early morning approach. Belay gloves can suffice if full-fingered.

1

RAB Power Stretch Pro

Rab Store

Clothing
Lip ScreenSPF 15 or higher.

Non-SPF rated lip balms can actually increase your chances of getting burned.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Lip Balm

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Midweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Adds extra warmth and protection from the cold and wind without creating a moisture barrier as a jacket would. Having at least one base layer that is hooded adds versatility, protecting the neck and ears from cold winds.

1

Men: Rab Merino 160 Hoody
Women: Rab Flux Pull-On

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Midweight Softshell Glove

This is the workhorse glove and is most often worn on warmer days when mountaineering. Softshell gloves are water-resistant and durable. They often have leather palms and fingers.

1

RAB Guide

Rab Store

Clothing
Mountaineering Axe

Utilized in ascending or descending snow slopes. Ideal length is variable based on terrain and height of person.

1

CAMP Alpina

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Mountaineering Boots

Waterproof, insulated, leather or synthetic boots. Two levels of boots can be appropriate depending on the season, conditions, and personal needs. These boots have rigid and semi-rigid soles so they climb rock well and are compatible with crampons. 1. Lightweight (May - October): This is a single-layer, semi-insulated, waterproof boot, such as the La Sportiva Trango Cube. 2. Mid-weight (October - June): This is a single-layer, insulated boot, such as the La Sportiva Nepal.

1

Men: Scarpa GrandDRU GTX
Women: Mont Blanc GTX WNM

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Mountaineering Crampons

Steel crampons with horizontal front points are ideal. Must be semi-rigid and compatible with your boots.

1

CAMP XLC 390

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Neck Gaiter

"Buffs" are quite versatile in their uses. They can be used as light beanies, neck warmers, and can offer face protection from the cold wind or sun.

1

CMS Neck Gaiter

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Personal Care Items

Medications, glasses/contacts, feminine products, etc.

1 Optional
Personal Toilet Kit

At minimum, bring a small Ziploc with toilet paper. Consider bringing a travel sized package of hand-wipes. Idealy, purchase, or for free from the RMNP Backcountry office, bring a "Rest Stop." The Rest Stop, known as "Blue Bags" in the Pacific Northwest, or the "Wag Bag" in other areas, are poop-in-a-bag systems that include toilet paper and a sanitizing hand wipe.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Rock Climbing Helmet

UIAA/CE approved; Should be large enough to fit over a beanie. Plastic helmets are more durable, but heavier. Foam helmets are lighter, but more easily damaged when carried in a pack.

1

CAMP Titan

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Smartphone

Great for taking photos and videos. Smartphone batteries tend to shut down in freezing temps - keep your phone in a warm inner layer. A tether is ideal in the mountains to protet against dropping your phone.

1 Optional
Softshell Pants

Softshell material is stretchy, wind-proof, water-resistant, and resists abrasion. Mid-weight is recommended and light-weight pants can work for warm days. Typical thin, nylon "hiking pants" are generally not tough enough.

1

Men: Rab Vapour Rise
Women: Rab Upslope

Rab Store

Clothing
Softshell/Fleece Jacket

Water-resistant, windproof, yet it "breaths," which means it allows moisture to move through. Hoods are ideal. There are multiple thicknesses of Softshell jackets. A lightweight or medium-weight jacket is preferred. Fleece jackets are acceptable.

1

Men: Rab Alpha Direct
Women: Rab Alpha Direct

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion

1

North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sun Hat

A billed hat to keep the sun at bay during the approach and descent.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sunglasses

"Wrap-Around" style sunglasses with 100% UV Protection.

1

Julbo Shield

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
SunscreenSPF 30 or higher.

Travel size.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Synthetic or Down Puffy Jacket

Fits over all other layers and is worn at breaks and on really cold days. Synthetic puffies are more durable, are easily laundered, and dry out quickly if wet. Down puffies are lighter weight, pack smaller, and provide exceptional warmth, but once wet, they stay wet.

1

Men: Rab Zero G
Women: Rab Electron

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Synthetic/Merino Wool Socks

Wool/Synthetic blends are great for long days on the trail. "Ski" and "Snowboard" socks are especially useful when warmth is desired.

2

Point 6 Hiking Light Crew

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Thermos

Many ice climbers prefer to bring a thermos of hot water or soup instead of one of their water bottles.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Toiletries

Bring enough for the trip. Toothpaste & brush, floss, deoderant, lotion, eye drops, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.

1 Optional
Trash Bag

Lining the inside of your pack with a heavy duty trash bag will keep the contents of your pack dry on rainy days.

1 Optional
Water Bottles

1 liter bottles are the standard. Bladders such as Camelbacks and Platypus are acceptable for above freezing temps, but only in conjunction with another bottle. Bladders are not acceptable during sub freezing temps. Sports drinks are also acceptable.

2

Nalgene, Hydro Flask

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Water Purification Tablets

Iodine or Chlorine-based treatments; To keep packs light in the summer during early morning approaches, your guide may suggest only carrying a liter or two of water, with the plan to refill during the day at a stream.

6 tabs/day

Aquamira, Potable Aqua

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Waterproof Shell Jacket

Non-insulated, Gore-Tex, Dermizax, Event, or other waterproofing system is required. Mostly, this jacket sits in the bottom of your pack and comes out when the weather gets nasty with precipitation. This jacket should fit over all other layers.

1

Men: RAB Latok
Women: RAB Women's Ladakh DV Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing

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