Day 1: The Montenvers train will bring you up to an altitude of 6263 feet. A short footpath, and a few fixed ladders will bring you down to the glacier. You will then adjust your crampons, and easily cross the glacier towards its right bank where the ice climbing school will be held. You will learn how to step up, step down, and cross a slope with crampons, using your ice axe either like a stick or like a anchor. Afterwards, you will rope on, and discover the techniques used by a rope party to ascend a slope, cross the crevasses, and use ice pegs for her safety. By 12 o'clock, you will catch a train to go back down to Chamonix.
After lunch (snacks) in a forest near Chamonix, you will be driven in the guide car to Le Tour, the highest village of the valley. You will be lifted by a cable car to the pass of Balme, height 7152 feet. From there, a pleasant path crosses the mountain pastures, providing a fantastic view on the "seracs" of the "glacier du Tour". Following the ridge of a moraine, the footpath will finally reach "Albert 1er" hut (8865 feet). Night in the hut. Duration of walking is 4 hours, including the ice climbing school. Difference of level is 1713 feet (add plus 360 feet up, and minus 360 feet down for the ice climbing school).
Day 2: At dawn, a short footpath will quickly bring you up to the glacier. You will rope on, adjust your crampons, and, slowly walking up, will reach after three hours the snowy summit of "Tête Blanche", height 11250 feet, on the Swiss border. There, you will not find any custom-house officer, but a magnificent view on the glacier of Trient, the "Aiguilles Dorées", and all the summits of the Swiss Valais, including Matterhorn. After a snack and a few photographies, we will go down for a while on the track followed from the hut, and then leave it to ascend the tour pass, height 10791 feet. From there, crossing the plateau of the glacier of Trient, you will reach the beautiful hut of Trient, 10400 feet high, which offers a sunny terrace and excellent beers! Night at Trient hut. Duration of walking is 5 hours. Difference of level is 2726 feet up, 1191 feet down.
Day 3: As you spend two nights in Trient hut, your rucksack will be very light today. A soft rise from the hut brings you up to the "rimaye" of the Aiguille du Tour, 11621 feet high, your goal for today, the "rimaye" is the crevasse which separates a summit or a snow gully from the glacier below, and, as the glacier is going down a few centimeters a day, the rimaye should get wider and wider. Happily for the mountaineers, the snowfalls or and the small avalanches coming down from summits or gullies will fill it in, allowing mountaineers to go across it.
Above the rimaye, a easy climbing route on granite rocks leads to the summit of the Aiguille du Tour. You will come back to Trient hut by the same route, in the end of the morning. You will then have a training to safety techniques to be used in case of a fall on a snow slope, and a study of rescue techniques in crevasses, on the glacier close to Trient hut. On the terrace of the hut, in the afternoon, your guide will learn you the main knots used by climbers. Night at Trient hut. Duration of walking is 4 hours and a half. Difference of level is 1693 feet up, 1693 feet down.
Day 4: Just before dawn, you will leave the hut, towards the Gilded Peaks (Aiguilles Dorées). Close to these sharp-edged granite peaks, is the passage of the pass of Plines, height 10807 feet. A easy way down will bring you to the very small hut of the Gilded Peaks, where you will have a pause to enjoy the panorama on the glacier of Saleina, and the impressive north face of Argentière Peak. It will be time to head towards the pass of Saleina (10718 feet) a slope of 200 feet high which incline is 45 degrees: we may have to cut some steps to help the roped party to rise up to the pass. Afterwards, you will easily walk to the pass of the tour, height 10791 feet, where you will join back the tracks going to "Albert 1er" hut, and the footpath to the cable-car of the pass of Balme. Transfer to Chamonix, where we will separate in the beginning of the afternoon. Duration of walking is 6 hours and a half. Difference of level is 1962 feet up, 5210 feet down.
Day 5: After a comfortable night in the valley, the forenoon will be free, to enable you to visit Chamonix, and to recover energy. By mid-afternoon, you will meet your guides at the "Aiguille du Midi" cable car station. The cable car will lift you up to a height of 12605 feet. You will rope on with your guide, and follow down the "Vallée Blanche" ridge, reaching the Cosmiques mountain hut, 11854 feet high, after a walk of 20 minutes. The Cosmiques hut was built in 1991, and provides a comfortable reception. After dinner, you will go to bed for a very short night: the alarm-clock will ring at 01:00 a.m. Duration of walking is 20 minutes. Difference of level is 100 feet up, 656 feet down.
Day 6: One o'clock, you get up, have a quick breakfast (maybe, you will not be very hungry, it is an unusual time to get up), and you leave the hut by moonlight. The "Three Mont-Blanc route" begins by a long ascent on the snowfields of the Mont-Blanc du Tacul, at low speed, to keep your energy for the last slopes of Mont-Blanc. After two hours of ascent from the hut, you reach the ridge of the Mont-Blanc du Tacul, at a height of 13451 feet. A short way down, and the route ascends the slopes of Mont-Maudit, finishing with a steepest snow gully, 170 feet high, with a gradient of 45 degrees, which leads to the Mont-Maudit pass, height 14255 feet. The sun is now rising on your left on the famous mountains of Switzerland (Matterhorn, Eiger), as your route zigzags through the Brenva Pass, the "Mur de la Côte", and near the Red Rocks.
The body is tired, but as you are acclimated, your globules and your fighting spirit will give you energy to reach the Top of Europe, 15781 feet after 6 hours of ascent. Emotion will be deep in your heart, some mountaineers cry, other meditate, these moments are yours. After a few photos, you will go down to the cable car station of Plan de l'Aiguille (7579 feet) following the "Grands Mulets" route, walking on "l'arête des Bosses", near the Vallot hut, and through the "Grand Plateau" bordered by seracs. Leaving the glaciers in the beginning of the afternoon, you will finally reach the footpath of "La Jonction", and then the cable car station. Going down to Chamonix in cable car. Descent from Mont-Blanc to Chamonix by the Goûter route if the Grands Mulets route has too many opened crevasses. Duration of walking is 6 hours of ascent, 5 hours coming down. Difference of level is 4390 feet up, 8665 feet down.
Day 7: One extra day to shift one day later the ascent in case of bad weather. If the ascent has been attempted on days 5 and 6, that day will be a day to rest in Chamonix. Your mountain guides will do everything possible to make a success of this training course. But, in high altitude, exceptional risks may exist: storms, avalanches, and your your guides, responsible for your life, may change the program of this training course for your safety. If exceptional risks during days 5, 6 and 7 turn the ascent of Mont-Blanc to be unrealizable, you will ascend the Dômes de Miage, height 12041 feet, or Gran Paradiso, 13323 feet, or another summit, during days 5 and 6, or during days 6 and 7. No refunds will be made in that case, and the ascent of Mont-Blanc will not be postponed to any other date. The choice between trying to ascend Mont-Blanc or trying to ascend Dômes de Miage or Gran Paradiso or another summit will be made by the mountain guide(s).
- After a short night in the hut, you will start your ascent to the Mont-Blanc, following the "Three Mont-Blanc route". Our experience of these training courses has led us to choose this route, which has a better rate of success than the two other easy routes (Goûter route, Grands Mulets route). The ascent of Mont Blanc will take place on the sixth day or the seventh day of the training course, according to the best weather period: the seventh day is one day to rest and relax in the event of bad weather in altitude.
- Safety: On the "Three Mont Blanc route" of Mont Blanc, according to the safety rules of the National Trade Union of French Mountain Guides (Syndicat National des Guides de Haute Montagne), we have chosen to post one IFMGA Mountain Guide for two climbers. This choice has been made for your safety, it is also much more efficient for this long ascent to create homogeneous roped parties of two climbers with similar ages, rhythm or technique. During all the ascent, and during all the coming down till the end of the glaciers, you will be roped with your guide.
- Rate of success: More than 80 per cent of the mountaineers which followed these training courses reached the summit of Mont Blanc. This remarkable rate of success to climb Mont Blanc (statistics show an average rate of success of 55 per cent for roped parties on the Three Mont-Blanc route, and of 50 per cent for roped parties on the Goûter route) is due to twenty years of experience of this ascent.
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