There are lots of routes to the summit of Mont Blanc most of which present few technical obstacles. For most groups we recommend the Gouter Hut route which is graded PD. The first part of the route to the Tete Rousse (or Gouter) hut involves a fair bit of rock scrambling, whilst the rest of the ascent will be mostly on snow and ice, with plenty of exposed ridges and ice slopes. On the summit day you will be roped up for most of the route for maximum safety. Previous mountain experience is not essential and the week is achievable by anyone with good fitness, a strong head for heights and lots of ambition. All mountain adventures - whether skiing, climbing or trekking - are physical recreational activities where it is really true that "the fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy them". For climbing, aerobic fitness and leg strength are the key. Upper body strength and core stability are also important for more technical climbing, but for preparing for Mont Blanc nothing beats activities that increase your heart rate and build your aerobic levels and regular hill walking in the UK or abroad - is strongly recommended in the build-up to the trip. Movement skills - agility, balance, flexibility - which allow you to walk easily over rough ground, to scramble using hands and feet on exposed terrain or to make your way safely up a steep snow slope - are also very relevant and can be enhanced through specific aerobic activity and training drills.
Climb program: The aim of the week is to enable you to make a successful and safe ascent (and descent!) of Mont Blanc. In order to do this you need to acclimatize and prepare thoroughly in the days leading up to the summit ascent. Sleeping at altitude is crucial and you will spend at least 2 nights in mountain huts during the preceding days. Weather and conditions may alter our program but it is likely to take this form:
Day 1: Arrive in St Gervais. Meet the guides to discuss the week's plan and to check equipment.
Day 2: Travel round to Les Contamines, visit a local ‘ecole d'escalade' for a warm-up rock climbing session before walking up the idyllic forested path to the Tre le Tete refuge where you eat and spend the night.
Day 3: Technical Preparation: an early start (5am!) for the ascent of Mont Tondu (3100m) a perfect introductory peak with sections of crampon walking on the Tre Le Tete glacier and ridge scrambling to the summit. You descend and climb to the Conscrits refuge. This newest hut in the Mt Blanc range is a stunning place to stay and the guardians Christianne and Bernard always make us very welcome.
Day 4: Another early start for a day making one of the classic summits of the range, the Domes des Miages. This is a magnificent day but long and tiring. We return to St Gervais and stay in your hotel.
Day 5: After a relaxing morning preparing kit and making last minute purchases, we take the Bellevue cable car to the Col du Voza and the rack and pinion railway to the Nid d'Aigle. From there we reach the Tete Rousse hut in 2 hours of easy walking.
Day 6: From a 4.00 a.m. start, the attempt on the summit via the Gouter refuge and the Bosses ridge. We should reach the summit in 7-10 hours. Descend the same route all the way back to the Tete Rousse hut.
Day 7: Descend to St Gervais to celebrate a successful trip.
Day 8: Depart after breakfast
Note: it may be possible to descend back to the valley in one day. Thus we keep day 7 as a spare day in case of poor weather. If we do return to the valley on day 6 and you have the energy, there are countless opportunities for a further day's climbing on the last day.
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