Mountain Tracks has over 20 years of experience on the mountain and our 6-day course gives you the highest chances of reaching the top. All of our climb Mont Blanc trips are expertly led by our own team of IFMGA Mountain Guides.
The good news is that Mont Blanc is an achievable target not only for experienced climbers but also for competent winter walkers. However, the rigours of altitude and the potential for less than perfect weather makes it a serious endeavour. Over the 6-day trip, Mountain Tracks' Guides will accompany you through a well-structured acclimatisation program, which is critical to the success of the trip and involves sleeping at altitude rather than returning to the valley between days in the mountains. The first half of the trip is dedicated to training and acclimatisation, the highlight being the ascent of the classic Italian peak of Gran Paradiso (4061), a high and worthy peak in its own right. The second half of the week is spent on Mont Blanc itself and utilises two days in serviced mountain huts.
To climb Mont Blanc requires a high level of fitness (stamina) together with surefootedness and plenty of commitment. Previous Alpine experience is desirable but not mandatory and during the week you’ll receive training in all the essential climbing skills so you are fully equipped and acclimatised for the ascent.
For more information on how tough this climb is, click on the "Essential Information" tab above to find out about the specific challenges facing aspiring summiteers.
The huts are run by full-time staff who look after us on a half-board basis, the cooking is hearty homemade food, with water, beer, wine and picnic lunches available at an extra cost. The sleeping quarters are communal and the views during sunset and sunrise are world beating. The Mountain Tracks team will take care of the booking of all of your huts during the trip.
Click on the aeroplane icon to experience a birdseye view of the route. This route was plotted by our very own Lead Guide, Matt Dickinson in partnership with FATMAP.
Travel to our comfortable partner hotel in Chamonix, where you should aim to have arrived by late afternoon. There will be a welcome meeting, followed by a briefing and kit check with your IFMGA guides at 6:30 pm. You will enjoy comfortable hospitality overnight before the next day's excursion.
We drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel and into Italy where our destination is the stunning Gran Paradiso National Park. A 2-3hr walk through the forests and over moorland takes us to the Chabod Refuge (2750m), situated at the foot of the huge North-West face of the Gran Paradiso. After checking in at the hut we walk up to the glacier for skills training, specifically crampon and ice axe work and crevasse rescue skills.
After an early start, we climb the classic route to the summit of the Gran Paradiso (4061m). The majority of the climb is on a steeply ascending glacier, there is an airy rocky scramble along the summit but it’s worth every step for the magnificent views back to Mont Blanc, your target for the week. We then descend a different route to the Vittorio Emanuele hut (2735m) where we rest, continue our acclimatisation and spend the night.
We start today with another technical training session above the hut before descending back to the valley and returning to Chamonix by car/minibus. Back at the hotel, you have time to rest and prepare for the next 3 days on Mont Blanc.
This morning we leave for the first of 3 days on Mont Blanc. After a short journey by road, we take the Bellevue cable car to the Col du Voza and the rack and pinion railway to the Nid d'Aigle (2372m). From there we reach the Tete Rousse hut (3167m) after around 2 -3hrs of walking. We may ascend further to the Gouter Hut (3800m) depending on bookings, this adds a further 2 hrs to the days climbing. In the evening we fuel up with a hearty home-cooked meal and watch the spectacular sunset before resting up ahead of the big day tomorrow.
We use a very early start, somewhere between 2 am and 5 am depending on which hut combination we use, and begin our ascent in the dark using headlights. From the Tete Rousse hut it will take approximately 6-7hrs of climbing to reach the summit, if we leave from the Gouter it will take 3-5hrs to arrive at the peak.
The first part of the climb is a rocky scramble, the second half is a glaciated slope followed by the elegant and exposed Bosses ridge. After admiring the view from the top of Western Europe, we return via the same route and stay a second night in either hut.
Today, after a later and more sociable breakfast, we descend from the hut back to Nid d'Aigle and eventually to Les Houches and into Chamonix for a celebratory drink! It is also possible to use this day as a summit day if the weather on the previous day did not allow a summit attempt.
Mountain Tracks use the ‘Gouter Route’ for climbing Mont Blanc, this is the standard route for most groups. On most trips we walk up to the Tete Rousse hut on day 1, stay in the hut overnight and climb to the summit on day 2 before returning to the Gouter hut for the second night and descending to Chamonix on the morning of day 3.
However, due to the popularity of Mont Blanc, the number of climbers wanting to climb the mountain far exceeds the numbers of hut spaces on the mountain – particularly in the Gouter and Tete Rousse huts. As a result, we cannot guarantee to get spaces in either of these huts for all our groups; sometimes it's necessary to split groups across both huts on any one night. We have chosen to run our trips Sunday to Sunday so we hope to offer better availability in the 2 main summit huts at the end of the week.
The Trois Monts Route via Mont Blanc du Tacul, Mont Maudit and Mont Blanc is now guided on a maximum ratio of 1:1, therefore it is no longer an option to move to this route in the event of conditions or hut booking status. If you wish to attempt Mont Blanc via this route please contact the team to discuss how we can help you to achieve this.
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*Single rooms are subject to availability and supplement.
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This list contains our recommended clothing and equipment for our Mont Blanc Climber weeks.
In the summer months, the days generally start very cold and warm up during the morning to become hot in the afternoon. It is therefore essential that you have 2-3 thin layers that you are able to put on/take off as the conditions change. Thin layers also allow better movement as opposed to one layer of bulky clothing.
If you are uncertain or need further information, please contact us.
• Base Layer Top and Bottoms – a few base layer tops, usually long-sleeved is best, wool base layers form Ortovox are good as they offer good wicking properties and dry quickly. For your legs, a couple of pairs of long or ¾ length bottoms are best.
• Mid-layer fleece tops – a couple of fleece type jacket or tops that can be worn between your base layer and outer layers. The “Layering” approach offers the best heat retention and flexibility in warm and cold weather.
• Insulation Layer - a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
• Lightweight softshell type trousers - you want to wear a lightweight softshell or similar material on your legs, these types of trouser offer good protection from snow/ice as well as abrasion on rock and are comfortable to move in.
• Walking shorts or a pair of trousers with zip-off legs. Useful for walk-ins to huts on hot days.
• Gore-Tex Jacket - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable jackets. Best to have a lightweight jacket that can be worn in the event of wet or windy weather but is packable enough to fit in your rucksack. Your insulated ski jacket will be overkill and too hot and bulky.
• Gore-Tex Pants - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable trousers. Lightweight is important plus side zips for putting on over your boots and crampons. Used in cold, wet and windy weather.
• Sun hat and warm hat – bring a wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap plus a warm beanie style hat.
• Light, thin gloves – a thin pair of fleece or softshell gloves for warm weather are a must.
• Insulated gloves - You need to have a pair of waterproof warm gloves to wear on cold days.
• Gaiters – these are useful to wear to keep snow out of your boots.
• Socks - 3-4 pairs of medium weight socks usually mid-calf length is good.
There are 2 grades of boots for alpine trekking and mountaineering: B1 and B2
• B1 boots are usually lightweight boots offering more flexibility when walking and are usually suitable only for trekking, easy glacier walking and Via Ferrata trips.
• B2 boots are semi-rigid boots that are the best option for summer alpine mountaineering trips. There are leather and plastic/composite options. Leather boots tend to be more comfortable and breathable whereas plastic/composite boots are warmer and more waterproof.
B2 boots are compatible with C1 and C2 crampons.
Key features of a good alpine boot include Vibram soles, a reversed leather upper (which protect the best side of the leather from scuffing and abrasion and improves durability and water resistance) and ankle flex and a higher cut which give control, mobility and support.
Boots can be hired in resort but to avoid discomfort we do strongly recommend that you have your own pair which needs to be well worn-in prior to your trip.
Alpine huts supply hut slippers so that you don't need to take any other footwear apart from your boots. Boots are not allowed in the dining room or dormitories and must be left in the foyer.
These items are essential for all alpine mountaineering courses
All items can be hired from Mountain Tracks or from sport shops in the Alps.
• Climbing helmet
• Ice Axe - General mountaineering / alpine pick 55-70cms long depending on your height.
• Boot crampons - with anti-balling plates.
• Climbing Harness – adjustable leg loops are useful for easy of putting on over your boots.
• Adjustable trekking pole(s)
• Rucksack - A simple and lightweight pack with a capacity of between 35-45 liters is recommended. You need to have one loop for carrying an ice axe on your rucksack.
• Lightweight sleeping bag liner – a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner is now compulsory in all mountain huts.
• Water bottle or Thermos – a water bottle or hydration system is needed.
• Head torch with spare batteries
• Personal first Aid Kit - Should contain:
Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
Antiseptic cream or wipes
Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
(Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
• Sun Glasses - minimum category 3.
• Ski Goggles – these can be very useful if you encounter strong winds and poor weather.
• Sunscreen and Lip Protection
• Ear Plugs - For noisy huts!!
• Hold-all bag - for gear not required on trek. Will be left at first hotel and collected on return.
• Money - You will need some cash for food and drinks. There are some ATMs and most hotels, shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but most huts still accept cash only. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 25-35 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption).
• Toiletries – Should contain:
Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
Tissues and toilet roll
Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
(Any other essentials you need but remember there are no shower facilities and generally no running water in the huts and you have to carry everything with you!)
• Alpine club card - If you're a member.
• Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
It is possible to hire boots and the technical items needed for the Mont Blanc Climber week in Chamonix and guideline prices for 6 days hire are:
Mountaineering boots €55
Ice Axe €30
Boot crampons €35
If you wish to hire any technical kit please contact us in advance with your requirements.
The town of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is situated at 1042m (3,396 ft) above sea level. It sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe at 4807m (15,770 ft).
Chamonix is considered by many as Europe's mecca for outdoor sports and draws many enthusiasts from all over the world. Unlike many of the purpose built resorts, Chamonix is a proper working town with a large population of about 12,000 inhabitants. This number can be boosted by as many as 80 - 100,000 during the peak months in summer and winter.
As befits a town of this size there are plenty of shops, hotels, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs.
Our top reasons to visit Chamonix:
Home of the Vallée Blanche, one of the world’s great off-piste descents
Great destination for weekends and short breaks
Easy access from the UK and just 75 minutes by road from Geneva airport, which has regular flights from many UK airports
Thriving, working town full of shops, bars and restaurants = good shopping, good après-ski
The Alpine capital of France renowned for big mountain skiing, alpinism and extreme adventure
Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Western Europe
Very long ski season with skiing possible until well into May
Good range of accommodation for all budgets
Chamonix Ski Area
The skiing area of Chamonix is generally considered to have some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. Much of this is accessible from the lift systems and includes descents of over 2,000m. The Chamonix valley extends over 20km and there are several separate lift systems and mountains which provide enormous variety and all are included on the Mont Blanc pass.
Off Piste runs include:
The Vallée Blanche
The longest off-piste ski descent in the world (24kms).
Pas de Chevre
Ascend to the top of Grand Montets and ski down to the Mer de Glace and on into Chamonix.
Glacier du Toule
You can ski the Glacier du Toule down towards Courmayeur and then catch the cable car back up to the top of the mountain and ski the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche.
From the back of the Le Tour lift system there is fantastic off-piste skiing towards Vallorcine and Switzerland.
Some of the very best areas can only be reached with an hour's ski tour from the pistes. The effort expended is more than rewarded with the awesome skiing across untracked terrain.
Chamonix is just as much about the climbing and mountaineering in the summer months, with easy access into the high mountains and many magnificent climbs and routes available plus an extensive network of high alpine huts its also a mecca for climbers. Mont Blanc draws over 20,000 ascents a year both by ski and foot and any good weather day in the summer months will see numerous people achieve the summit.
Resort Height: 1,042m
Highest Lift: 3,842m
Nearest Airport: Geneva
Transfer Options: From Geneva the transfer time from the airport is about 75 minutes to Chamonix. We recommend that you book a seat with one of the many transfer companies who offer shared minibus transfers to and from the airport. Mountain Tracks recommends Mountain Drop Offs or Cham Van who both offer comparativly priced transfers and run an efficient services.
More about Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe. Its height is 4,807 metres (15,780 feet), but varies from year to year by a few metres, depending on snowfall and climate conditions. The mountain lies at 45°55′N, 6°55′E between the regions of Haute Savoie, France and Aosta Valley, Italy
The first known ascent was made on August 8, 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
Adventurous activities in the mountains have their dangers. These can never be removed altogether but they can be minimised. At Mountain Tracks our aim is to provide you with a thrilling holiday directed with maximum attention to your safety and that of others. We don't just blindly get you to follow our experienced leaders. We give you the opportunity to learn mountaincraft skills and understand about the hazards, how to minimise the risk, and how to cope with incidents should they happen.
The effects of altitude on the mountain is a significant issue and can make or break the ascent. At 4,800m the altitude can most definitely be felt, this is not surprising considering the air pressure is only 60% of that at sea level.
As you ascend to higher altitudes, atmospheric pressure decreases, the air is thinner and less oxygen is available. It is also colder, drier and the ultraviolet rays from the sun are stronger. After arriving at high altitude you will probably notice that your breathing is faster and/or deeper, and you may feel short of breath especially when exercising. This is the body's first and most effective response to higher elevation. In addition your heart is likely to beat faster and you may develop nausea, unusual tiredness, headache, or have difficulty sleeping. During the process of acclimatisation, one or more of the above symptoms are common, however these symptoms can evolve into more serious conditions if managed incorrectly. It is worth noting that everybody is different and there is an element of unpredictability regarding how you will cope with altitude and how well you will acclimatise. Often it is not the young and most fit who are the least affected by altitude.
The process of acclimatisation needs to be well structured to minimise the adverse effects, but at the same time gain the necessary benefits. So our programme is designed in the best possible way, we start low and slowly gain height during the week. At least 2 nights are spent sleeping high in mountain refuges before an attempt on the peak.
The impending deadline for the UK to leave the EU may have you worried, especially if you have travel plans in the new year, however with a few steps you can make sure you are well prepared for any eventuality. As of January 1st 2021, there will be new rules for UK residence when travelling to the EU and other European countries.
The Ski Club of Great Britain has compiled some of that advice to help skiers and snowboarders understand the changes, and what they might need to do if they are travelling after the Brexit deadline.
At Border control, you may have to show your return ticket and money
At border control, you may need to:
Visas for short trips: you will not need one if you’re a tourist
If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.
You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
Most holiday companies have taken measures to ensure that there will be minimal impact to their guests’ experience.
If you are taking a package deal that is covered by ABTA, ABTOT & ATOL you will have the same buyer protection as before. You should always purchase travel insurance to make sure you are covered in case of delays or cancellations. If in doubt about arrangements contact your tour operator to make sure there aren’t any changes. It is probably worth adding a little extra time before passport control just in case things aren’t running as smooth as normal.
Both Ski Club Freshtracks and Mountain Tracks holidays are covered by ATOL & ABTOT protection and are guaranteed to run regardless of the new Brexit rules. Take a look at our holidays here.
Most travel insurers will offer the same amount of coverage in EU countries as they did before if you already have a policy with them, in fact, many of them are underwritten by large EU corporations. It is possible that premiums might go up after December 31st as we leave the EHIC scheme and other shared healthcare and insurance organizations. If you aren’t sure whether your insurance still covers you, head to their website or give them a call.
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020. It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.
Ski Club Insurance will continue to provide the same cover whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. For full Insurance, policy details go here.
A ‘green card’ is proof that you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. You should plan to carry one for the vehicle you’re driving in the EU and EEA, including in Ireland, from 1 January 2021.
You will need to carry multiple green cards if:
Contact your vehicle insurance provider 6 weeks before you travel to get green cards for your vehicle, caravan or trailer. The green card can be emailed to you by your insurer for you to print. For more information head to gov.uk
From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway will end.
A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.
You can find all the latest information on gov.uk.
You should arrange to arrive in Chamonix by late afternoon on the first day.
The most convenient airport is Geneva and from here the transfer time up to Chamonix by road is just 1 hr 15mins. To travel between the airport and Chamonix we recommend you reserve a seat on one of the many commercial shuttle buses. Mountain Tracks can book this for you and the usual prices are from £40 per person one-way. Please supply your full flight details to us so we can make the reservation.
Want to take the train to the resort? No problem – it’s possible to get to Chamonix by train from the UK using the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris, then the TGV to Bellegarde and a regional train to Chamonix. The journey can be done in 1 day. For more information and other useful train travel details look at www.snowcarbon.co.uk
At the end of the week the course finishes after breakfast on the last day and we recommend that you arrange your return/onward flight from lunchtime onwards to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport without having to rush!
All our mountaineering trips are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
Our usual hotel in Chamonix is the Hotel Les Lanchers located in Les Praz, this is a comfortable 3* hotel with modern light and airy rooms, a great restaurant and a comfortable bar and lounge area; as well as outside seating to enjoy the sunshine and views of the mountains. We offer accommodation on a twin share basis in their standard rooms, all with en-suite showers. Their restaurant "Rendezvous" serves local and international cuisine and offers a set menu during the summer months. Their chef can cater for any dietary requirements our guests may have. They serve a hearty breakfast and offer packed lunches for guests to purchase for their climbing days. You can view more details on the hotel here http://www.hotel-lanchers-chamonix.com/en/home
The Alps generally have a very pleasant climate throughout the spring, summer and autumn with warm days and cool nights, with daytime temperatures in the valley around 25 - 30°C. At high altitude the temperature often goes down below -10 and can feel even colder with wind chill.
The ascent of Mont Blanc is achievable by anyone with good fitness, a strong head for heights and lots of ambition. Previous mountain experience is an advantage but not essential. The week is a physically demanding one, on the summit days of Grand Paradiso and Mont Blanc you will be walking and climbing for 6-9 hours on varied terrain carrying a rucksack of 10-15kg.
Fitness preparation is absolutely essential and will make your week considerably more enjoyable. Doing sports that increase your aerobic fitness and leg strength are key. So when preparing for this trip nothing beats activities that increase your heart rate and build your aerobic levels e.g. hill walking (with a rucksack), running, cycling and swimming.
Movement skills - agility, balance, flexibility - which allow you to adjust to uneven terrain - are also very relevant.
I have no previous mountaineering experience but I am keen to learn the basics of using crampons and an ice axe and rope work. I would enjoy ascending rocky scrambles and easy angled snow and ice. I am a regular hill walker summer and winter and used to long days out, I am happy to walk for 6-8hrs per day carrying all my gear in my rucksack. For Via Ferrata trips a head for heights and some upper body strength is useful.
I have undertaken some previous rocky scrambling and short rock climbs, ice or easy alpine climbing. I am comfortable moving on rocky and snowy ridges and slopes of up to 40 degrees. I enjoy the challenge of more remote technical terrain. I would like to learn more about alpine rope work. I can improve my crampon / ice axe technique and could scramble on rock with greater efficiency.
I have previous experience climbing alpine PD+ or harder. I am undeterred by scrambling and have done some pitched climbing on rock or ice. I have a firm grasp of the rope techniques necessary for pitched climbing and crossing glaciers. I am confident when using crampons and ice axe. I relish the thought of climbing steep rock and ice or traversing an exposed ridge covered in snow and ice. I can abseil, know how to use a prussic knot and make myself safe on basic belay stances.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.