Mont Blanc – 4810 m
Dream Guides has taken hundreds of clients to the summit of Mont Blanc – the roof of Western Europe, including none other than Sir Richard Branson, Princess Beatrice and Dwain Chambers. Here is what they had to say:
“I’d recommend Dream Guides 100%. I want to be a Dream Guide!” Sir Richard Branson
“The summit was like a dream. It was so overwhelming I began to cry with joy for making it to this magical world at the top of Europe.” Princess Beatrice
“Without Fabio and all the team at Dream Guides in Chamonix I would not have got the job done.” Dwain Chambers
We think that this gives us a pretty good understanding of how to give you the best Mont Blanc experience that money can buy.
Clicking on the ‘Book Now’ button opposite, will open a new tab/window in your browser and direct you to our online tour booking system.
Download the info pack here: Climb Mont Blanc Information Pack
A word on the weather:
Last summer saw unusually high temperatures in the Alps which resulted in the Gouter hut shutting due to dangerous rock fall in the famous Gouter couloir. Climate warming is causing the 0 Degree isotherm to rise which melts the ice that holds the rocks together, and thus increases rock fall. We are hoping for a cooler summer without similar problems to last year, but if conditions in the couloir do not allow an ascent we will need to adapt and opt for similar, equally beautiful ascents.
We run the Climb Mont Blanc course from our base in Chamonix, France. Chamonix is an exciting destination for any adventure enthusiast, it is the capital of alpinism and an incredibly inspiring town to visit. Chamonix is easy to access via Geneva International airport which is serviced by most of the major airlines.
What's not Included
Who is this for?
Anyone with a good level of endurance fitness and a sense of adventure! Previous mountaineering experience is a bonus, but not necessary as we teach all required skills during the week. However a good physical coordination and an ability to pick up new skills is important.
Mont Blanc is high and the altitude makes it hard work and so determination is needed to keep going to the top! While this course is open to beginner mountaineers, please note that that doesn’t mean it’s physically easy – making sure you have a good base fitness level before you get here will make the week feel less strenuous and maximise your chances of success.
Accommodation and huts
Our Climb Mont Blanc courses are based in our central 3chalets, Chalet Iceman, Chalet Slider and Chalet Viper – see summer holidays for the listings. Rooms are normally on a twin shared basis with shared bathrooms. The chalets have a fun atmosphere, there are often other like minded people staying in the chalets who are on various other courses. Chamonix town is a short 5 minutes walk away with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes.
What to expect from mountain huts
They are basic but comfortable. They can cater for vegetarians. Food is usually on a set menu basis (3 course in the evening, hot drink and bread/jam/cereal for breakfast). Often there is no running water and you have to buy water to drink and wash with (no showers). You can usually buy tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, chocolate bars and snacks.
Sleeping arrangements are normally dormitory style bunkbeds (eg 6 people on the bottom, 6 on the top) with blankets or duvets. No sleeping bags are needed, rather a ‘sheet sleeping bag’ should be brought. The huts provide slippers for wearing around the hut. On this course we ask the hut guardians to provide a packed lunch for the team each day.
You can expect a good atmosphere and a stunning view!
Acclimatisation is crucial to success on Mont Blanc and our itinerary has a proven record.
We meet in the evening at 6pm to go through the weather/conditions and the plan for the week. You will meet your Guides and you can ask any questions. You can hire any kit from Dream Guides when you get to the chalet.
Drive to le Tour and take a short uplift and then walk up to the Albert 1er hut followed by crampon/ice axe instruction in the afternoon. Overnight at the hut. Begin acclimatising. (2.5hrs to the hut)
Climb the Petite Fourche (3520m) and descend to the Trient hut (overnight).Glacier travel practice. (7hrs)
Climb the Aig du Tour (3540m) and descend to Chamonix for a well earnt rest. (7hrs)
During this phase we will have acclimatised, climbed two quality peaks and learnt the necessary skills for the main event…
Thursday – Saturday:
Climbing Mt Blanc takes two days, but we build in a spare day in case of bad weather to maximise the chance of success. We usually start by driving to les Houches and then taking uplifts before walking to the Tete Rousse hut for an overnight stay, followed by an ascent via the Gouter/Bosses ridge. On the return you will spend the night in the Gouter hut and head back to Chamonix on the Friday.
To maximise your chance of summiting Mont Blanc it is important to get as fit as you possibly can. Good fitness will also make it more fun and less exhausting! The process of training for your goal will help you focus on your goal and having a goal will help you focus on your training. So all in all training is good!
Mountaineering is all about being able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours (typically 5 to 12 hours) and your training should reflect this.
Probably the best training is going on long days hill walking as this simulates the real thing as closely as possible and prepares the mind (exercising for long periods in poor weather requires mental strength!). However not everyone has the opportunity to do this and so alternatives such as jogging, cycling and gym workouts are good.
The focus should be on training Cardiovascular Endurance and so if in the gym, cycling/running/rowing machines are much better than weight training. Try and exercise for up to a couple of hours at a time, 4 times a week. Remember to build up your workouts over time. If you are not used to exercising much, your muscles and joints need time to
build up to avoid injury.
Try and choose an activity that you enjoy and keep a note of what you do and your times – this really helps with keeping the motivation up.
If you are not used to training then your local gym will be able to advise you on a plan and schedule to help you achieve your goals.
Training does not work overnight! The fittest athletes train as part of their lifestyles and have been doing it for years.
Consider training for a good couple of months before coming out to the Alps.
The Effects of Altitude
As one climbs higher the air gets thinner and so there is less oxygen in each breath we take. The higher we go the less oxygen there is. This makes exercising much harder work than at sea level and so we have to slow down to help compensate. Because we have slowed down, we may feel colder.
Because there is less oxygen in the air as we get higher, this can lead to ‘altitude sickness’ or Acute Mountain Sickness which is like the worst hangover you have ever had (headache, nausea, weakness, fatigue, dizziness) and can develop into a very serious and even fatal (in extreme cases) problem.
To avoid these problems, enjoy the climbing and increase our chances of summiting we need to acclimatise by spending several days and nights at progressively higher altitudes, so our bodies can adapt. This is a very important part of our preparation.
Unfortunately we can’t recommend a specific brand and model for each item on the kit list, as what is available is constantly changing and, of course, different people are different shapes and sizes with different budgets! However, in general, we use and endorse Sherpa and Black Diamond products because in our experience they are excellent…
If you go to a good retailer such as Snow & Rock, explain to them you will be climbing Mont Blanc and they will be able to advise you on what is best for you. Bring this list with you…
Lastly, if necessary it is possible to rent most hardware items from us in Chamonix (ice axe, crampons, harness, helmet). You can hire boots too at a rental shop very close to the chalet, but this is a last resort (no one likes uncomfortable boots).
1. Ice axe – for general mountaineering (between 50 and 70cm depending on your height) We can rent you an ice axe.
2. Standard steel mountaineering Crampons – 12 point crampons for general mountaineering with anti-balling plates. Whether strap on or clip on models they must fit your boots well. When buying crampons bring your boots to the shop so they can fit them for you – that way you can avoid buying incompatible ones! Specialised ice climbing crampons are not necessary. We can rent you crampons.
3. Helmet – standard hard plastic climbing helmet. We can rent you a helmet.
4. Trekking Poles – optional, but useful for the training days. We can rent you walking poles.
5. Boots – these must fit and be comfortable. If you buy boots try and make sure they are broken in before the week. They should either be ‘plastic’ or high-end insulated leather (not fabric) and must be compatible with your crampons. Your boots should be stiff-soled (also known as B2 or B3 grade boots in the retail world). If your boots are not stiff enough not only will it compromise your comfort when walking/kicking steps in hard snow but also compromise your safety as crampons are more likely to fall off or even break. When buying boots bring your crampons to the shop to make sure they fit well. You can also rent boots in Chamonix. Gaiters can also be useful in the deeper snow conditions. We can organise rental of boots from our partner shop in Chamonix town.
6. Rucksack – 40-50L with a plastic liner (even just a thick bin bag) in case of rain.
7. Waterbottle 1L – not platypus type – they freeze and leak. A light weight thermo bottle for the summit day can be useful too.
8. Harness (adjustable so that it is comfortable over all your layers), 2 screw gate karabiners, belay device, 1 8-foot sling. We can rent you a harness and karabiners etc…
9. sunglasses (cat 4), goggles, sunhat, sunscreen, lip salve/block
10. 3 sets socks and light coloured thermal tops
11. Lightweight Goretex hooded top & bottoms – make sure pockets are accessible even when wearing a harness
12. Warm hat, thick gloves (eg ski gloves that are warm and waterproof), thin gloves
13. Insulating layers. I use a thin ‘100’ weight fleece and a synthetic duvet jacket. I think a synthetic or down duvet jacket is perfect because you can put it over all your other layers (including goretex) when taking a break or if it is really cold without taking anything off. This is very quick and very warm and practical. If you don’t have a duvet jacket/can’t afford one then make sure you have 1 or 2 thick fleece layers instead.
14. Trousers – there are many brands of fairly windproof/shower resistant trousers for hillwalking/mountaineering. ‘Schoeller’ fabric garments are great but there lots of other good ones too. Bring a pair of lightweight thermal leggings (long johns) too – it can be chilly on summit day!
15. Personal first aid – blister kit, aspirin, or Paracetamol
16. Head torch and spare batteries
17. light weight Book/iPod for spare time in huts and earplugs (there is always someone snoring at night!)
18. Sleeping bag liner for huts (you don’t need a sleeping bag itself as blankets/duvets are provided)
19. Cash (euros) for extra drinks / snacks in huts (allow €20 per hut night but you may well not spend it!)
20. ID, Snack food, if you have an alpine membership card its worth bringing that too. You may also want to bring a small bag of your favourite tea bags as tea bags in the huts are often a bit weak!
Remember kit should be lightweight but functional – you have to carry it! We can help with equipment rental once you arrive in Chamonix.
We take a 20% deposit to secure your place on one of our Climb Mont Blanc courses, and we ask for the balance to be paid 6 weeks before the course start date.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue.
Make sure that it covers glaciated mountaineering and climbing. We recommend the Dogtag (www.dogtag.co.uk) – they have comprehensive policies and a good reputation.
Getting to Chamonix
It is best to book flights and airport transfers well in advance of your departure.
Easyjet have many cheap flights to Geneva from all over the UK. Swiss Air have cheap and convenient flights from London to Geneva.
Booking a place on a minibus airport transfer service is by far the best way to get from Geneva airport to Chamonix (it takes about an hour or so, is cost effective and is a door to door service). We can book your airport transfers at a competitive rate – just email us with your flight details…