This course meets and finishes in Leysin. We have a good kit store and you can borrow any equipment you need free of charge (crampons, axes, helmet and harness).
The course is run on a 4:1 ratio for the first half of the week, whilst acclimatising, and then moves to a lower 2:1 ratio for the Mt Blanc summit attempt.
This is a guided climbing week and the first part of the week will be spent acclimatising in readiness for your ascent of Mt Blanc.
This is very much a sample program as several different acclimatisation peaks and climbs are possible. We will adapt the program to make use of the best weather for our ascent of Mt Blanc. In this example we climb Mt Blanc via the Goûter Ridge.
The course starts with a briefing at 6.45pm at The Grand Chalet Hotel in Leysin. This is a chance for you to meet your team mates and Guide and go through the details of the course. There will also be time for you to sort out any equipment you need and for you to ask questions. Dinner will follow the briefing.
We travel to Italy and into the Valsavarenche valley. From here a very scenic 3-hour walk on a good track (which includes a 1000m height gain) takes you to the Refugio Chabod. At the hut you 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.
An alpine start gains you access to the glacier Laveciau, which spills down from the North Face of the Gran Paradiso. The normal way to the summit of the Gran Paradiso first ascends this glacier before linking up the higher Gran Paradiso glacier as you near the summit. A short section of exposed rock scrambling links the glacier to the summit. We descend via the same route back to the Refugio Chabod or alternatively, the Refugio Vittorio Emmanuelle where we stay the night. This second night spent up high helps with the acclimatisation process.
After breakfast we make our way down to the Valsavarenche valley and drive back to Chamonix. Here you can rest and the ISM Guides will help you with any final preparations for your Mt Blanc Ascent. If you get down in good time, it may be possible to enjoy some easy rock climbing at the local climbing crag in the afternoon. You will stay the night at the Hotel Des Lacs.
An early breakfast allows us to take an early lift from the Telecabine de Bellvue in Les Houches. This will link to one of the first trains that will take us up the first section of Mt Blanc. From the final train stop at Station Nid d'Aigle, we will start our hike up to either the Tete Rousse or Gouter Hut.
After another very early start from the Tete Rousse hut (1am!) or the Gouter hut (2am!) we make our way, wearing crampons, up the glacier and over 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 (4362m). Above this, we ascend steeper ground, climbing Les Bosses (4547m) and then to the gradually narrowing summit ridge. Normally we reach the summit of Mt Blanc (4810m) soon after daybreak. We retrace our steps on the descent and hope to be back down in Chamonix that evening. If time doesn't allow us to catch the last train back, we will spend another night at either the Gouter or the Tete Rousse hut.
This is a contingency day in case of poor weather earlier in the week, or in case we are still getting down from the hut. However, if we have made it down to Chamonix the previous evening we will organise a rock climbing session at one of the local crags. Return to Leysin for dinner.
Depart after breakfast.