ISM-Alpine-7-1400x300

Mont Blanc Special

As the highest summit in the Alps, Mont Blanc (4810m) is a worthy goal for mountaineers of all levels.

Level 1 Guiding & Coaching

6 days, 7 nights

Ratio: 4:1 acclimatisation peaks 2:1 Mont Blanc ascent

Price: £1895*

* Fully inclusive price

 Course Dates

On this course we aim to achieve one of the classic routes of the peak, having first acclimatised on another high alpine peak and practised all the skills required for a safe and enjoyable ascent of Mont Blanc itself.

Mont-Blanc-Gouter-Ridge-Sunrise

On Mont Blanc the route we choose could be the traverse from the Cosmiques hut, the Gouter Ridge, or the classic route from Italy via the Gonella hut. We will take the most suitable route according to conditions, the weather and the needs of the group.

At the start of the week we head up to the mountain hut beneath our acclimatisation peak. A perfect objective is the Gran Paradiso (4061m), an important summit in its own right being the highest entirely within Italy. If any course participants have already climbed the Gran Paradiso then peaks around the Trient Glacier in the Mt Blanc massif, sleeping high at the Trient Hut (3,170m) is a great alternative.

We then go on to attempt Mont Blanc by one of its classic routes. Options include the ‘three Mont Blancs’ traverse over Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit, the normal route from Italy via the Gonella hut or the classic Goûter Ridge from France. We will choose the safest and surest route according to conditions on the mountain and the weather forecast. A guiding ratio of 4:1 on our acclimatisation peak and 2:1 on Mont Blanc, gives us a degree of flexibility to adapt the course to individual needs and to give specific training as appropriate.

Mont-Blanc-Guides-Alps
Is This Course For Me?

This course covers the basic essential skills needed to safely climb Mont Blanc. Some previous mountaineering experience such as our Summits and Skills 4000m course is preferable, as you'll have an understanding of climbing at altitude, already have the basic skills of walking on a glacier, crevasse rescue and will enjoy and feel more prepared for the acsent. Although previous mountaineering experience isn't essential, just a good level of stamina and general aerobic fitness to give you the best chance of success in reaching the summit, as the route up Mont Blanc is long and arduous. Please do not underestimate how hard the Mont Blanc ascent can be, even though it's largely a walk, you'll be carrying a reasonably heavy back pack, wearing moutaineering boots and operating at altitude, which is always more physical and demanding. No pre-course acclimatisation is necessary but good preparation for your week is, as we reccommend a good amount of time spent walking in mountains or hills wearing boots and back pack, which will help you build aerobic fitness.  

Course Description

In this example we climb Mt Blanc via the Gouter Hut.

Day 1
Clients arrive in Chamonix and check into the Hotel Vert for their first night. If you need to hire mountain boots, then please leave some time on this day to visit one of the many outdoor shops in Chamonix to hire some.

Day 2
Meet with your ISM guide, course briefing and equipment check at the Hotel Vert in Chamonix at 9am. Drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Italy, head up into Valsavarenche and walk into the Chabod hut. Technical session on alpine ropework and ice axe and crampon skills.

Day 3
Ascent of the Gran Paradiso (4061m) and either return to the Refugio Chabod or drop down to the Refugio Vittorio Emanuele and stay the night, sleeping another night high up.

Day 4
Walk out from the Refugio Chabod or the Refugio Vittorio Emanuele and head down to valley, then drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel back to Chamonix. Spend the night either in Chamonix or down the valley near Les Houches to allow for an early start the next day when you'll be walking up to the Gouter Hut.

Day 5
An early start, helps avoid too many others who may also be walking up to the Tete Rouse and Gouter huts. This also means that the ascent up to the Gouter Hut is much safer. We stay the night at the Gouter hut (3,835m)

Day 6
A 2am start from the Gouter hut, makes the most of the day and is the final push up the summit of Mt Blanc at 4810m. Once on the summit and we've enjoyed the pleasure of our success, we descend retracing our steps back down to the Gouter Hut and on all the way to the Chamonix Valley. If our start time leaving the Gouter hut due to bad weather needs to be set back and we leave later in the day, then we'll descend to sleep another night at the Gouter hut or spend a night at the Tete Rousse a little further down the mountain. Another night in a mountain hut, would mean that we wouldn't be back down in Chamoinx until the Friday morning.

Day 7
This is an important day to have in hand to give the group a second chance to try for the summit if the weather wasn't good enough on the Thursday, and also allows for an extra time to descend to the Chamonix Valley if needed. If we do have this last day in Chamonix then you will have the option of doing some rock climbing on great limestone crags close by. The last night is a comfortable one spent back at the Hotel Vert in Chamonix.

Day 8
Breakfast and departure.

Sample Programme

In this example we climb Mt Blanc via the Goûter Ridge.

This is very much a sample program of the course as several different acclimatisation peaks and climbs are possible. We will also adapt the program to make use of the best weather for our ascent of Mt Blanc.

Saturday
Clients arrive in Chamonix and check into the Hotel Vert for their first night. If you need to hire mountain boots, then please leave some time on this day to visit one of the many outdoor shops in Chamonix to hire some.

Sunday
After breakfast at 9am you'll meet your ISM Guide, have a course briefing and then an equipment check before heading off into Italy.  We travel through the Mt Blanc tunnel into Italy, then up to the more remote Val Savarenche, our starting point for the ascent of the Gran Paradiso. We generally have a picnic lunch at some point while walking up the steep well-made walking track to the comfortable and very friendly Chabod hut, set beneath the spectacular north face of the Gran Paradiso. The ascent to the hut takes around 3 hours and involves a height gain of about 1000m. Once we are settled in we will have a training session on the use of the technical climbing equipment (crampons, harness, etc) and look at basic climbing knots and rope work. The Refugio Chabod is very well regarded by the guides, and Tatiana, the hut guardian, invariably prepares a hearty Italian meal of minestrone, pasta, meat and veg – just what is needed for the day ahead!

Monday
We leave the hut before dawn to start our ascent of Gran Paradiso. The route starts as a good track, which quickly becomes less distinct as we cross the moraine slopes onto the glacier. It will be light by the time we reach the glacier, and we stop here for a brief training session with crampons and ice axe before roping up to continue our climb. The ice slopes on this ascent are not unduly steep, but are quite continuous. We do take regular rest stops as we go! There is also a crevassed section as we get higher and your guide will be paying particular attention here to ensure that the whole team is using the proper technique with the rope. Finally, we cross the bergschrund to climb a short steeper slope onto the summit ridge. The ridge is quite short and is an easy scramble over rocks, but is exposed! In no time, we reach the Madonna on the summit and can take in the fantastic panorama of mountains all around us – not least an excellent view of Mt Blanc to our north. We descend via either the same route and return to the warm welcome and hearty cooking of the Refugio Chabod or drop down to the Refugio Vittorio Emanuele and stay the night there.

Tuesday
After breakfast at 7am we walk back down to the Valsavarenche, a very pleasant time to be walking down. It is cool in the morning and this is the time when we are likely to see some of the fauna the Paradiso range is famous for, especially chamois and ibex. We drive along the Val d'Aosta to the Mont Blanc Tunnel and cross back through into France, arriving in Chamonix by early afternoon. Now we can relax and have a look around Chamonix, in order to be well rested for the demanding days to come. Chamonix has the best concentration of mountaineering equipment shops in the world and this is an opportunity for the guides to help you with any final equipment needs. We spend the night at either the comfortable Hotel Vert which is ideally situated close to the centre of Chamonix or up at the refuge du Nid D'Aigle at 2482m which will help continue the acclimatisation of the group and also gives the team an earlier start the following day, as we head up to the Gouter Hut.

Wednesday
Early in the morning, we leave the refuge du Nid d'Aigle and head up the walking trail towards the Tete Rousse hut, which is quieter and safer as we then cross the Grand Couloir devoid of people, as others wait for the lift and train to open further down in Les Houches. We then follow steeper terrain up ther Gouter ridge, which is a scramble up rocks that leads to the top of the Glacier du Taconnez and the site of the old Gouter hut. After reaching the site of the old Gouter hut, it's just a short walk on snow to the new refuge de Gouter (3835m) where we arrive early in the day, giving everyone plenty of time to rest and acclimatise before the penultimate day to the summit.

Thursday
The Gouter hut is notoriously busy and your guide will make sure that everyone is properly prepared to make a prompt get away in the morning. The wake up call is normally at 2.00am, and after a quick breakfast we rope up and start out from the hut. The entire ascent is now on snow and ice and you will be wearing crampons the whole way. A short horizontal ridge takes us on to the broad and easy slopes of the Dôme de Goûter (4304m). From the top of the Dôme we descend slightly and then quickly reach the emergency shelter of the Vallot hut at 4362m. Above this it is almost always very cold and you will often need all the extra warm clothing your guide will have persuaded you to bring! From here, a steeper ascent takes us us to the icy domes of Les Bosses at 4547m and then to the gradually narrowing summit ridge. Normally we reach the summit soon after daybreak and of course there is time for the obligatory photographs and celebration! Generally it is too cold to want too stay long, so we soon start our descent back to the Gouter hut. After a break here, we carry on down the rocks and back across the Grand Couloir to the Tête Rousse hut. If time and energy permit, we may continue down to the valley, but we often plan to stay at the Tete Rousse to give a more relaxed descent.

Friday
We have the Friday as a contingency day in case of poor weather earlier in the week or in case we are still getting down from the Tête Rousse or Goûter huts! However if we have made it down to Chamonix the previous evening we organise a rock climbing session at one of the local crags, normally the friendly and popular Les Gaillands. Your last night is spent back at the comfortable Hotel Vert in Chamonix where you'll enjoy your final evening together.

Saturday morning
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
25 17 Jun 2017 24 Jun 2017 £1895 Full
27 1 Jul 2017 8 Jul 2017 £1895
29 15 Jul 2017 22 Jul 2017 £1895
31 29 Jul 2017 5 Aug 2017 £1895
33 12 Aug 2017 19 Aug 2017 £1895
35 26 Aug 2017 2 Sep 2017 £1895
37 9 Sep 2017 16 Sep 2017 £1895