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.
Set dates for Summer 2016
We can always accommodate other date requests so please get in touch if these dates don’t work for you.
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. Here you can check the course dates and availability
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.
The climbing season runs from mid June to mid September and between those dates there is no better or worse time to attempt the climb. The beginning and end of the season can be snowy/ cold, and the middle months can be busier and the hotter temperatures can cause afternoon storms.
Summit success varies from season to season but remains consistent throughout the different months. If the weather shuts us down, we will endeavour to find the closest mountain in the area with better the weather, and thanks to our location we are generally able to find an equally beautiful alternative within driving distance in France, Italy or Switzerland.
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 and go through your kit.
Day 1: Get to the Rifugio Chabod in Gran Paradiso. The altitude is 2750m and it takes 2 ½ – 3 hours walk from the road (900 m altitude)
In the morning we will sort out any last minute gear rentals / purchases in Chamonix before driving through the tunnel into Italy. Once at the refuge we will rest, have lunch then we have an outdoor session covering walking with crampons, being roped up, and scrambling.
Day 2: A big day involving a 1,300m altitude ascent of Gran Paradiso. All on snow except the final rocky section to the summit. This is great training for Mont Blanc and will put you in good stead for the main summit attempt later in the week.
We Go down to the same hut – this gives us the advantage of leaving unnecessary clothing/equipment there to make our ascent as light as possible. Furthermore staying up at altitude instead of heading all the way down to the valley helps with acclimatization.
Day 3: Wake up late (7) and by 8.30 after breakfast go down gently (2h) to the car, have a stop for an Italian coffee and by 12-13h drive back to Chamonix (1.30 h drive).
Is very important that you can have a good rest in preparation for the coming days.
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 Saturday, just in time for our BBQ feast! This will depend though on a number of factors, including weather and hut availability.
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.
1. Ice axe – for general mountaineering (between 50 and 70cm depending on your height)
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 and Gaiters – 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 B3 grade boots). 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 are essential for keeping snow out of the top of your boots and laces away from your crampons. Boots with built in gaiters work well and generally mean that you don’t need an additional pair.
6. Rucksack – 30-50L 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 carabiners, belay device, 1 4ft sling.
9. sunglasses (cat 4), goggles, sun hat, Factor 50 High Mountain sunscreen, lip salve/block.
10. 3 sets of socks and light coloured thermal tops.
11. Lightweight GORE-TEX® hooded top & bottoms – make sure pockets are accessible even when wearing a harness.
12. Warm hat, thick gloves (e.g. ski gloves that are warm and waterproof) and a second pair of thin gloves.
13. Insulating layers. We suggest 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 GORE-TEX®) if it is really cold without taking anything off. This is very quick and very warm and practical. If you don’t have a down jacketthen make sure you have 1 or 2 thick fleece layers instead.
14. Trousers – there are many brands of fairly wind proof/water 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 (longjons) too – it can be very 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 through our partners in resort.
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…