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Mont Blanc

  • Where?

    France

  • Altitude

    4,810m

  • Duration

    8 days

  • Weather

  • Physical

    P4

  • Technical

    T3

  • P4 - Sustained physical effort calls for a state of high conditioning. You should already have experience of tough challenges (P3) and be regularly training as part of your normal routine. Expect days of up to 8 hours and longer while carrying a pack up to 8-14kg in weight. Summit night could be easily in excess of 12 hours.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • T3 - May involve harder scrambling or some trekking and climbing with ropes. If snow is encountered then glacier travel with ropes, ice axes and crampons will be necessary. Basic climbing skills is ideal, but will also be taught and certainly practiced during the expedition and  pre-summit phase.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • Overview

  • Date & Prices

  • Pics & Vids

  • Itinerary

  • Kit List

  • FAQ's

Overview

Mont Blanc, at 4,810m is the highest mountain in the Alps. Reach its summit, and you’ll be standing on the top of Europe. The mountain’s iconic domed peak is impossible not to notice when arriving in the Chamonix Valley, but its beauty belies the considerable physical challenges of achieving summit

Closely entwined with the traditions of Alpine climbing, Mont Blanc has been a sought-after prize by climbers for centuries. We strive to enhance your chance of personal triumph by providing a state-of-the-art ascent program. Under the dedicated tuition of professional, experienced mountain guides you’ll first learn the skills needed to climb a mountain of this calibre. To aid acclimatisation and introduce you to the magical world of Alpine climbing you will ascend a 4,000m peak prior to tackling the big one. The climb itself starts below the Gouter Refuge and serious alpine terrain needs to be negotiated to reach this starting point. Summit day combines all the best elements of climbing in the European Alps and many consider scaling Mont Blanc a highlight of their climbing careers.

Previous mountaineering experience is desirable but it’s not essential. We provide the best training, the best acclimatisation programme, fully qualified Mountain Guides and luxurious down time lodging and meals. The rest is up to you.

Find out more
Mont Blanc Mont Blanc

Date & Prices

We currently have no scheduled dates for this expedition, however if you give the office a call on 0207 1834 360 it would be easy for us to get this up and running.

Included

  • Half board accommodation in a luxury chalet in Chamonix Valley. Chalet accommodation is usually sharing in twin rooms. Single rooms can sometimes be arranged (with €150 supplement payable at the chalet). Wine is provided with evening meals
  • Half Board accommodation in mountain refuges
  • Transport to and from training venues
  • All guiding and guides expenses
  • Celebratory reception on return to the chalet

Not Included

  • Lunches
  • Insurance
  • Flights
  • Personal equipment for each person: ice axe, crampons, helmet, harness, boots. (Equipment hire can be provided for those that need it at additional cost, paid locally.)
  • Airport transfers Geneva airport to Chamonix return
  • Mountain cable car / Chamonix mountain trains. If used allow €75 – €125 for cable car and local train fees.
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early

Pics & Vids

Itinerary

DAY 1 : Depart UK

We’ll meet at the Chalet in the evening. Hire equipment will then be distributed as required. Over dinner there will be an informal discussion about the week to come.

DAY 2 : Acclimatisation: Orney Hut (2,831m)

We’ll try and depart for a local store to collect hire boots around 8.45am. After that we’ll drive to a drop off point (usually Champex in Switzerland (1 hr 15). From there we take a lift up and make the two hour walk to the Orny Hut (altitude 2,831m). We will take a good break there and then spend the afternoon rock climbing near the refuge.

DAY 3 : Acclimatisation: Trient Hut (3,170)

We usually make an early start from the hut (8am) to spend the morning training on the glacier with crampons and axes. After that we’ll take in a local peak of around 3,500m high. We’ll then head across the glacier to the Trient Hut (3,170m) where we’ll relax for the evening.

DAY 4 : Descent back to Chamonix

Following an early breakfast (5am) we’ll cross the border back into France, usually taking in another 3,500m peak (e.g. Tete Blanche, Petite Fourche or Aiguille du Tour) before descending past the Albert Premier Refuge. We’ll then take the lift down to Le Tour where we’ll be collected and driven back to Chamonix for lunch. You’ll be collected again a little later and taken back to the chalet.

DAY 5-7 : Summit Bid

Depending on the weather and conditions we may spend either one or two nights in mountain huts to maximise our chances of success. The hut we use most often is the Tete Rousse Refuge (3,167m), but sometimes we use the Refuge Gouter (3,817m) or the Refuge Cosmiques (3,613m). All huts have their advantages and disadvantages (see FAQs).

Summit day: Expect to have breakfast very early morning (1.30 am is quite standard), before setting off using head-torches. After a few of hours it is usually light enough to see clearly. The pace on summit day is not fast, but should be steady and constant. Approximate timings for each route are in the FAQs section. Once back in the valley we will drive back to the chalet where you can enjoy a hot shower and a soak in the hot tub with a glass of champagne.

DAY 8 : Depart to UK

The day is yours to relax, and pack up your things before departing. You will have to vacate your room by 10am, however the chalet can store your belongings if not departing until later.

These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the expedition and what you will experience.

Kit List

Bags & Packs

Daysack

30-40L maximum. Mammut “Granite 30/40”, and Osprey “Mutant” and Talon 33 recommended

Sleeping Gear

Sleeping bag liner

A liner is mandatory for hygiene reasons. The huts do provide blankets

Headwear

Sunglasses

Category 4 glacier glasses by Julbo, Cebe, Vuarnet and Adidas recommended

Wide brimmed hat

Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck

Warm headgear

This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head

Goggles

Low light lenses recommended as goggles most likely used in poor weather

Sunblock

SPF >30

Lip salve

SPF >30

Upper Body

Thermal shirt/T shirt

Merino wool (e.g. Icebreaker) recommended as they don’t smell

Thin gloves

Fleece or leather gloves recommended

Light insulated jacket

A lighter jacket such as a Primoloft or lightweight down which can be worn at lower to mid altitudes is a great addition to your kit

Mid layer

A slightly heavier weight for greater warmth that can be worn over a base layer. Fleece for merino wool are ideal

Waterproof jacket

Gore Tex. Arc’Teryx Beta AR recommended

Duvet jacket (available to hire in Chamonix)

Synthetic jackets recommended as they stay warm if wet. Arc’teryx recommended. Please see FAQ’s for kit hire

Warm gloves

Black Diamond “Patrol” gloves recommended

Mitts

Dachstein wool mitts recommended, or fleece with Gore Tex shell

Lower Body

Mountain trousers

Mammut “Base Jump” (Schoeller fabric) or similar recommended

Waterproof trousers

Gore-Tex, Arc’Teryx Beta AR recommended

Feet

Thick socks

Smartwool or Teko recommended

Mountaineering boots (B3) (available to hire in Chamonix)

La Sportiva “Nepal Extreme” recommended. Boots must have a fully rigid sole. Scarpa Manta and Sportiva Trango might not be warm enough in cold conditions. Bring them if you already have them

Please see FAQ’s for kit hire

Gaiters

Technical Equipment

Harness (available to hire in Chamonix)

We recommend Petzl harnesses and the Black Diamond “Alpine Bod”

Please see FAQ’s for kit hire

Helmet (available to hire in Chamonix)

Petzl “Ecrin Roc” and Black Diamond “Half Dome” recommended. Please see FAQ’s for kit hire

Ice axe (available to hire in Chamonix)

Grivel “Air Tech” recommended. The bottom of your axe should reach your shin when held in your hand standing upright. Please see FAQ’s for kit hire

Crampons (available to hire in Chamonix)

Petzl Vasak and Grivel G12 highly recommended. Please see FAQ’s for kit hire

Trekking poles

These can be handy when crossing glaciers, and on paths for reducing shock on your knees. Leki and Komperdell recommended. Snow baskets essential

Hydration

Water bottles / bladder

2L capacity either in a combination of bladder and Nalgene bottle or just Nalgene bottles

Toiletries

Wash kit

Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!

Alcohol gel

Most huts do not have running water to wash with

Medications

Personal first aid kit

Painkillers (Paracetamol or Ibuprofen), blister plasters (Compeed recommended) etc

Personal medication

Keep this in your daysack

Misceallaneous

Head torch

Bring spare batteries.  Petzl “Tika Plus” or similar recommended

Ear plugs

For protection against the inevitable snorers!

Camera

Bring spare batteries and memory cards

Documentation

Passport

Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity.  With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.

Copy of passport

Just in case

Travel insurance

Copy of own travel insurance details.  And relevant contact numbers.

We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip.  To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

EH1C (formerly E111)

While you do have travel insurance, this can save you paperwork and reduce upfront costs should you have a minor ailment or need to see a local GP if you already have one

FAQ's

Food and Water

How much water should I carry each day?

Do not carry too much water – it is very heavy. As a general rule 1-2 litres is the right amount. Avoid using Camelbak style systems with drinking straws. They leak, the tubes freeze, and they will always let you down when you need them most. Nalgene style plastic bottles are the best.

What type of food should I carry?

Everyone is different, however it is essential to eat well in the mountains. Sandwiches are hard to beat, supplemented by fruit and chocolate bars. Don’t carry too much food, and remember that some foods will freeze solid unless kept in jacket pockets.

Where can I get a packed lunch for each day?

You can buy a good packed lunch directly from the chalet. Please let them know the day before.

Accommodation

What are the mountain huts like?

Mountain huts are mostly owned by the Alpine Clubs. They are there to provide accommodation and food for mountaineers. They often cater for large numbers (>100), and hence can be quite busy. Meals are usually simple but plentiful, and anyone with special dietary requirements must let us know in advance so we can inform the hut guardian. Please note that while huts will usually try and accommodate vegetarians etc they do sometimes struggle with more specialised requirements such as gluten free. Showers and running water are not usually available. Meals, drinks, and snacks can be purchased for cash. As an indicative cost, a 1.5 litre bottle of mineral water typically costs 6-9 Euros and a bar of chocolate 2 Euros. The rooms are usually dormitory style, with large alpine bunks (up to 15 people in a row).

If there is no water in the huts for washing, what should we do?

Take some wet wipes to give yourself a clean in the evening. A toothbrush, some wet wipes, and a small tube of toothpaste (shared between several people) is plenty. Some alcohol hand gel is also handy.

Why do some people use different huts to us?

All huts have their advantages and disadvantages. The approach route for the Tete Rousse (2-3 hrs) and Gouter Hut is the same, with the Gouter being 400m higher (an extra 2hrs climbing) on the same route. While the Gouter is higher (and thus a shorter summits day) it is not quite as comfortable as the Tete Rousse. The Cosmiques Refuge is comfortable, and has a very short approach (<30mins), however the route from there to the summit is longer and more technical than the Gouter Route. Choice of hut depends on group fitness, technical ability, conditions on the mountain and availability of spaces. Approx timings for routes are as follows:

  • Cosmique to Summit 6-9 hrs
  • Tete Rousse to Summit 5-8 hrs
  • Gouter to Summit 3-5 hrs

Once descent times are added (approx 4-5 hrs) it becomes a long summit day! If climbing from the Cosmique Hut you will traverse Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit before reaching the summit. If climbing from the Tete Rousse you will initially cross the “Grand Couloir” before scrambling up a rocky buttress to the Gouter Hut. This couloir is not difficult to cross, but can be prone to rock fall in warm temperatures. From the Gouter Hut the route is relatively straightforward to the summit although the summit ridge is exposed and can be icy.

Is a laundry service available?

An overnight laundry service is available in the chalet for essential items required for the summit phase (thermals and socks etc). Please note a small charge is levied for this service.

Do we have to move out of our rooms when we are on the mountain?

No. Your room in the chalet is yours for the week and is your home away from home.

How easy is it to get out and about?

Guest cards will be issued upon arrival which means the local buses and trains are free of charge if you fancy trying out the public transport. The chalet is also licensed to provide a private in-resort taxi service at a cost of €25 per journey in the valley.

Health and Safety

What sun cream do you recommend?

Any brand will be fine. The most important thing is the SPF – Do not bother with anything under SPF 30. Creams with UVA and UVB protection are best. And don’t forget lip salve.

Is it really necessary to spend so long acclimatising?

Yes. Acclimatisation is absolutely vital for Mont Blanc. Many people spend insufficient time up high before attempting the summit, and often fail as a result. Failure to acclimatise properly can lead to sickness and even death.

Kit

What kit should I bring?

As outlined in the kit list.

Can I hire equipment in Chamonix?

Anyone wishing to hire equipment in Chamonix rather than buy it can do so. We use a local shop for boot hire (allow €50 for the week), and other items are available as follows:

  • Ice Axe €22
  • Harness €16
  • Helmet €16
  • Crampons €33
  • Duvet Jacket €28
  • Full Package: Duvet Jacket, Mitts, Axe, Harness, Crampons, Helmet – €99

The Climb

How long are the days?

The length of days will vary when Alpine climbing. Training days will usually start between 06:00 and 08:00, and last for 6-8 hours. Mont Blanc summit day will usually start very early (around 03:00), and can easily last 12 hours.

How does every company claim to use the best mountain guides?

360 always use the very best mountain guides possible. But then every company says that don’t they? To ensure we genuinely do use the best guides, we pay our guides more than any other guiding company operating on Mont Blanc. That way we always have the pick of the very best.

Are all mountain guides certified?

All guides operating in the European Alps must be internationally certified. Training and assessment takes a minimum of three years and anyone caught operating without a license will be prosecuted.

Occasionally we employ trainee guides (known as Aspirants). They are in the final stages of qualifying as guides and are allowed to operate under the tutorage of a fully qualified Guide.

What if we summit early?

If you summit early you may have a spare day in Chamonix. If so, there are numerous options for rock climbing, via ferrata, or alpine climbing for the day. The group would not all have to do the same activity as we would still have 1 guide per every 2 team members. There are also plenty of less physically demanding options in or near the Chamonix Valley.

What if the conditions are too bad to attempt the summit?

If conditions are really bad we will find an alternative plan. This would usually involve climbing in either Italy or Switzerland. If possible we would still try and climb a major peak >4,000m high.

Travel

How do I get from Geneva Airport to Chamonix?

Please contact the 360 office for advice on transfers. There are many options available.

Insurance

Do I need special travel insurance for the expedition?

You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip.  To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.

Will I need an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for this expedition?

As the trip is based in France it is also worth having a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as this “gives card holders the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries or Switzerland. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would be to a resident of that country and is provided either at reduced cost or, in many cases, for free. The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until the card holder returns home. This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions.” If you don’t already have one, you can apply for one here and it is free.  Many travel insurers won’t cover your medical costs in the unlikely event that you need medical treatment whilst you are away which could have been covered by an EHIC.

Electronics

What camera should I take?

Avoid carrying bulky SLR style cameras. They are too heavy, and slow to use. Compact cameras that fit into a pocket are best. Cameras in rucksacks never take photographs. Digital cameras must be kept warm in a pocket or they will freeze and cease to function.

Tougher than I thought, more rewarding than I imagined. Thank you 360.

Gerard Sutherland, Mont Blanc, 2010
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