Mont Blanc is one of the classic climbs in the Alps. Towering above Chamonix, France, it has long attracted climbers following the first ascent in 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel Paccard. John made his first climb of Mont Blanc in 1990 while studying in Europe and has returned over a dozen times to this great climb.
The normal ascent is made by the Gouter Route after several days of climbing training and acclimatizing at huts accessible from Chamonix. For those that have pre-acclimated on other mountains we can get the climb done in 2 or 3 days, but most will need to use the first three days of the itinerary presented here to review skills while climbing some really fun routes accessed from the Albert 1er hut and the Trient Hut.
The summit climb itself is perhaps a bit more difficult than the standard route on Mt. Rainier, but it accessible for fit, intermediate climbers. The Gouter route requires some rock scrambling, thus the the warm up climbs during our acclimatization and training before the ascent.
Day 0: Team arrives in Chamonix, France and meets at 7 pm for pre-trip orientation and dinner
Day 1: Early departure for the town of Le Tour to catch the cable card and ski-lift to just below the Col de Blame. Ascend to Col de Balme with Ice Training along the way, night at Albert 1er Refuge (7,241'- 2207M.)
Day 2: Leave Hut early, climb Tete Blanche (11,250'- 3429m) and/or Petitie Fourche (11,549'- 3520m), night at Trient Hut (10,400'- 3170m) a favorite on the Haute Route. Both climbs are moderate and involve steep snow sections and easy rock scrambling similar to that found on the Gouter Route.
Day 3: Climb Aguille du Tour in the morning via another moderate mixed snow and rock climb (11,627' - 3544m) and return to Chamonix where we spend the night and catch a shower and repack for the climb of Mont Blanc.
Day 4: Travel down valley to Les Houches where we use the Tramway du Mont Blanc (TMB) up to the Nid D'Aigle, and the start of our hike to the Tete Rousse Hut (10,390' - 3167M) on Mt. Blanc. We also have the option to stay higher at the Gouter Hut (12523 ft - 3817 m) allowing us to knock out the 700 meter rock scramble that leads to the hut. This decision will be made in Chamonix and will be based on group strength and the hut availability.
Day 5: We rise very early (1 am typically) and set out for the summit of Mt. Blanc. Once the massive rock face below the Gouter Hut is overcome, the climb to the summit is primarily on snow and ends with a spectacular climb up the narrow summit ridge to the highest point in Western Europe. We generally descend via the route we came up. Fast parties willbe able to make the last train and return to Chamonix, while those taking more time will need to overngiht again at the Tete Rousse Hut.
Day 6: This is an extra day for weather or to descend from Tete Rousse Hut. It is possible to use the excellent tram system in Chamonix to squeeze in another climb if time permits, and there is also the option to go cragging near Chamonix.
e-mail, or give us a call at 509-548-5823 to discuss your trip. There are many, many ways that this trip can be put together and you may want to visit other areas in France or Switzerland to prepare for this trip. We can often take two programs that by themselves would take 6 days each and combine them to form a seamless program that visits all the same spots in fewer days. Once you are certain what trip you would like to do, complete our application and return it to our office. These programs are very popular and it is not uncommon for summer to book up 6 to 9 months in advance.