The Ascent of Mont Blanc

Course Overview

The snow-capped massif of Mont Blanc dominates the French alpine resort of Chamonix and is the highest peak in the European Alps. This programme aims to reach the summit over a nine day period of glacier training and acclimatisation. Shorter programmes are possible, please ask for details, but remember that your chances of success are greater if you have more time for acclimatisation training. During this time a progressively higher series of ascents to huts and summits will be made, in order to allow those taking part to acclimatize and gain fitness. In this way it is hoped that an enjoyable ascent of Mont Blanc can be achieved, assuming good weather. Approximately half of the time will be spent in alpine huts, whilst other ascents will be made on a daily basis from the valley using cable cars. No previous alpine experience is necessary. However, it would be wise for those taking part to be fit and healthy hillwalkers, preferably with winter experience in Britain. The course can be based in either Switzerland or France. Either way the wide selection of 4,000 metre peaks in Switzerland provide good training, before attempting Mt Blanc.

It is worth considering the six-day Alpine Introductory course as training for an attempt on Mt Blanc. This programme would involve eight days in the mountains, with a rest day or two after the six-day course, befor Mt Blanc.

Course Details

Costs: POA depending on numbers

Ratio: 1 Guide to 4 training & 1:2 on Mt Blanc

Dates

By arrangement (June/July/August/Sept) individuals or groups.

Sample Programme

Meet during the late afternoon or evening preceding the course for introductions and a beer.

Day 1
Gear check. Please try and make sure that the equipment you are bringing with you is adequate for the activities to be undertaken. To this end please contact Alan Kimber with any queries before leaving the U.K. Local glacier for crampon/axe/ice training . Local crags for prussik/rope training (pm).

Day 2.
Walk to a mountain hut and practice crevasse rescue from the hut. Night spent in the hut.

Day 3.
Ascend either a 3,500 metre peak or high pass from the hut and descend to another 3000m hut. This phase of the programme  is really aimed at teaching the skills required, with some gentle acclimatisation. 

Day 4.
Ascent of a 3500 metre peak and descend to the valley.

Day 5
Walk to another hut.

Day 6.
Ascent of a 4000m peak and descend to the valley.  This would be the finish of an introductory course.

Day 7.
Low key climbing day on crags to suit those taking part..

Day 8
Ascend to either Gouter Hut or Cosmiques Hut  (3,800m) via cable car train and/or foot.

Day 9
Attempt Mont Blanc and descend to the valley.

This programme is a very full one and may well be changed to suit both the weather and course members level of fitness. The important point is to maintain a gradual gain in height climbed in order to enhance the acclimatisation and fitness of individuals. Also of importance is the fact that this course is not meant to be exhausting all of the time, after all those attending are on a holiday!!

The first week of this course is similar to that experienced on the Saas Fee - Alpine Introductory course. The course can also be based in Chamonix and a similar programme followed, including Swiss peaks.

 

Description

Price includes:
  • All transport and cable cars during course.
  • All hut costs during course.
  • Breakfast and evening meals in huts.
  • Advice, tuition, guiding services and ropes.
  • Guides expenses during the course.
  • Valley accommodation B&B
Price does not include:
  • Valley evening meals and packed lunch
  • Alpine mountaineering and holiday insurance.

Note: The exchange rate may effect the accommodation prices, but not the main course price, which is fixed for the season.

 

Kit Requirements

Alps Kit List

Boots

Boots
For the Alps it is essential to have a warm and stiff soled boot. The warmth of the boot is important on high snowy peaks. Boots can be hired, but it is better to arrive with your own well broken-in footwear, in order to avoid problems. They must not be smooth soled or very flexible. Go for a B2 for general alpinism or B3 if you intend climbing more technical routes. Lightweight fabric boots are not recommended.

Crampons

Crampons
These should be ten or twelve pointers with front points. They should fit the boots you will be wearing! Rigid C3 crampons 'ball up' badly and are not recommended for that reason. Completely stiff crampons are not good for long treks. C2 Petzl-Charlet mixed points with toe straps and heel
' cup' are good, as are Grivel G10. Heel 'cups' tend to be more sure-fitting than heel clips on some boots. Carry your crampons in a bag, rubber nipple crampon covers are very fiddly and time consuming. Please have anti-balling plates fitted to your crampons. A C1 crampon with straps all round can be used on stiffer boots.

ice axe

Axe
Alpine axes should be around 60/70cms in length. Shorter tools are needed if steep climbing is envisaged.

Harness
Essential. Adjustable leg loops are preferred for ease of fitting. The Black Diamond 'Bod' is good.

Helmet

Helmet
Essential. Adjustable leg loops are preferred for ease of fitting. The Black Diamond 'Bod' is good.

Waterproof Jacket and Trousers
The trousers should have a full length leg zip for ease of fitting over boots and crampons. Lightweight waterproofs are often better in the Alps as they spend most of the time in your rucsac.

Gaiters
A lightweight pair of gaiters (not Yeti's) are essential at times.

Rucsac

Rucsac
A medium volume sac of 45/55 litres is best. Plastic bag liners are useful. Buy a rucsac without too many complicated straps and buckles. Large hip supports often hinder harness fitting and add to the weight, as do internal metal stiffeners.

fleece

Clothing
Should be of lightweight layers. Extremes of temperature will be experienced and a flexible system is essential. Warm mitts and hat are essential, as are sun-shade hat, trainers and shorts. Jackets should have accessible pouch pockets for carrying items needed quickly (sunglasses, sweeties, small camera, sun cream, etc.). Shirts should have a high collar to protect your neck from the sun, T-shirts are poor in this respect.

Bivvy Bag

Bivvy Bag
A large person sized plastic survival bag (500gauge) is the minimum requirement.

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit
A small personal pack including medication for blisters, headaches, stomach upsets, sunburn plus any personal drugs. For people on special drug treatments please bring spares and/or a list of their brand names/contents. Total sun block cream for glacier travel. Lip salve. Small tube of skin cream. Ear plugs for a quiet nights sleep in huts if other people are snoring!

Good Quality Sun-glasses
Best with side covers for glacier travel. Please check with an optician.

Compass and Map

Compass and Map
Maps are best bought on arrival but can be found in Britain, check beforehand.

Guide Books
Try 'The Alpine 4000m Peaks' by Richard Goedeke (Diadem). Recommended

Prussik Loops
Bring four metres of 6mm line (softish kernmantel) to be made into loops on arrival.

Long Tape Slings

Two @ 120cm and Screwgate Karabiners (three).

Water-bottle

Water-bottle
Essential to carry a litre.

Light Sleeping Bag
For camping, bunkhouses and possible planned bivouacs.Not for alpine huts. A light silk sleeping bag liner can add to your comfort considerably.

Telescopic Ski Poles (three part)
Very useful for taking the weight off your lower body in descent, boosting you up hill and general balance. Recommended but not essential.

Rock Boots

Rock Boots
Useful for valley climbing, during bad weather conditions at altitude.

Other items
- Form E111 (DSS)
- Passport
- Alpine Club Card
- Insurance