Climb Mont Blanc
Routes to the Summit, Costs and Equipment required
Standing at 4808 metres above sea level, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe.
Permanently topped by its white glacier, Mont Blanc is perhaps one of the most desirable mountains to have climbed in Europe. It is not especially technically-challenging - which means with the aid of a high-mountain guide, it can be summited by most with an appropriate level of fitness. Indeed, it is climbed by an average of 20,000 people per year.
How long does it take?
The fastest ascent of Mont-Blanc from Chamonix took place this year on the 11 July 2013 by 26 year old Kilian Jornet, ski mountaineer and long-distance runner, who went from the church in Chamonix to the summit of Mont Blanc and back to the church in an incredible 4 hours and 57 minutes. This beat the previous record of 5 hours 10 minutes and 14 seconds which stood for 23 years, set by the Swiss alpine runner Pierre-André Gobet on the 21st July 1990. Earlier in 2013, French ski mountaineer 23 year old Mathéo Jacquemoud set a new record of 5 hours and 5 minutes on skis.
However, most normal people take two days to climb the mountain and stay overnight in one of the mountain refuges.
When is the best time to climb it?
The summer months are the busiest time to climb Mont-Blanc - however the summer often provide the best weather. September is often best as the conditions are often warm and very stable.
Even in summer though, whilst Chamonix may be basking in +30 degrees Celsius, the summit could well be -20!!
How safe is it?
Mountain climbing is a dangerous activity, and climbing Mont-Blanc is no exception.
There is always an element of risk, even with a mountain guide. However, guides have the experience and technical skills which help reduce these risks to a minimum. Every year, ill-equipped, and unaccompanied have-a-go climbers get injured and killed trying to climb Mont-Blanc.
Routes to the summit
The Goûter Route
This is the most popular and "least" difficult route to climb Mont-Blanc. It starts in Saint-Gervais, where the Tramway du Mont-Blanc is ridden up to the Nid d'Aigle (Eagle's Nest). From there, the ascent passes through the Goûter corridor up to the refuge on the Dome du Goûter where you stay overnight. Then by 3am, the climbers will depart for the summit.
If you take the Bellevue lift from Les Houches up to the Col de Voza, where you can catch an early tram up to the Nid d'Aigle (2372m). From there, you will be able to climb up to the Tete Rousse hut (3167m) in the cool of the morning, and arrive at the Goûter hut (3817m) before the hut fills up in the late afternoon. You will then set out at 2-3 am and make the climb up the Dome du Goûter with a headtorch. You should then arrive on the Bosses ridge in the first light of dawn and be on the summit at dawn. This then leaves time to descend and catch the last tram back to the Col de Voza from where you can walk down the Tour du Mont Blanc track back to Maison Jaune.
technically the easiest route
the route by which the greatest number of people reach the summit.
the hut can be crowded and uncomfortable
risks of rock fall in the Goûter corridor
the bosses ridge is steep, exposed and can be icy
the route by which the greatest number of people reach the summit
The Grands Mulets Route
This is an excellent but very long route which is used much less now. It is the original route used by Jacques Balmat, and Docteur Marie-Gabriel Paccard in 1786, and also the route taken by Pierre-André Gobet in his amazing 5hr 10 mins round-trip between the Place d'Eglise in Chamonix and the summit.
There are a number of ways to reach the Grands Mulets hut (3051m). You can ascent from above the Mont-Blanc tunnel, or from the télésiège des Bossons. Or alternatively, take the Aiguille du Midi cable car, and traverse from the mid-station above the Glacier des Bossons. On the second day, you pass through the Petit Plateau as quickly as possible to avoid seracs, before ascending Les Grandes Montées, the Grand Plateau before joining the Gouter route between the Col du Dome and the Vallot shelter for the last summit section
Route is not crowded
Comfortable night at the Grands Mulets hut
Ambiance of the traverse of the Les Bossons Glacier
Very long route
Exposure to serac fall during the traverse between the Jonction and the Petit Plateau
The Three Monts Route
This route is both more physically and technically demanding than the Goûter Route. However, with easy access from the Aiguille du Midi cable car, this aesthetic route has become the second most popular route to climb Mont Blanc.
It starts in Chamonix, where the Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi is ridden upto the Col du Midi. Here you either stay the night at the Cosmiques hut, or camp on the glacier itself, before ascending Mont-Blanc via the Mont-Blanc du Tacul (4248m) and Mont Maudit (4465m).
From the Aiguille du Midi cable car (3842m), it is only 45 minutes walk to the Cosmiques Hut (3613m), where you can watch the sun set over the Tacul - Maudit - Mont Blanc chain. Then at 2am, you set out to ensure that you have enough time to reach the summit, and descent back to Nid d'Aigle to catch the tram back to the Col de Vosa.
Possible to do it in one day by taking the first cable car in the morning
Requires stable snow condition on the Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit
No easy escape route after Mont Maudit
Need to move quickly to do it in one day
We thoroughly recommend James Kaler, who is an excellent Chamonix mountain guide to climb Mont Blanc who also runs eco mont blancs for the extremely fit - where you climb the mountain in less than 24 hours unaided by cable cars.
Alternatively, please contact the Chamonix guides company on http://www.chamonix-guides.com.
In Chamonix, you can hire crampons, ice axe, harnesses, boots and all the gear necessary to climb Mont-Blanc in safety, security and comfort.
Mountaineering boots (suitable for crampons)
Gaiters with a strap under the boots
Telescopic ski poles
Climbing harness and screwgate karabiner
Warm clothing - eg. down jacket
Waterproof jacket with hood and over-trousers (Gore tex)
Lightweight first aid kit
Water bottle (1 litre)
Sheet sleeping bag (for overnight in the hut.)
Also - split between the group...
selection of slings
ice screws (x4)