Mont Blanc & Monte Rose

Course Overview

This programme aims to ascend the two highest peaks in the European Alps as well as instructing those taking part in proper alpine glacier techniques. A number of additional peaks above 4,000m will be attempted in the process of gradual acclimatisation. In this way it is hoped that course members will be fit enough to enjoy the climb to the roof of France and Switzerland. A good deal of the time will be spent in high mountain huts and some time allocated to explore Chamonix and Zermatt. The course is not of a technical nature, apart from day seven, but a good level of fitness is required. Suitable for strong and fit hillwalker's/scramblers in Britain. Experience on snow/ice is preferred but not essential, as these skills are taught during the course.

 

Course Details

Costs: £1,900 /person (1:2) | £1,400 / person (1:4)

Ratio: 1:2 or 1:4

Dates

By arrangement (June to September). Individuals or groups.

Sample Programme

  • Day 1
    Meet for gear check. The majority of the day will be spent practicing prussiking and crevasse rescue rope techniques on a local crag and making sure all the equipment is correct and understood.,
  • Day 2
    Ascend to a local mountain hut in preparation for climbing a 4,000m peak the next day. Also some time will be spent practicing glacier skills on a real glacier near the hut.
  • Day 3
    Ascent of a 4,000m peak from the Saas valley to start the acclimatisation process.
  • Day 4
    Cable car from Zermatt and a glacier day traveling to the Refuge de Ayas (3400m). An ascent of either the Breithorn or Pollux will be included.
  • Day 5
    Traverse to Quintino Sella Hut (3585m) via the summit of Castor (4178m). A high altitude glacier day of six to eight hours (Grade F+)
  • Day 6
    Traverse to either Gnifetti (3647m) or Margherita 4569m) huts. The later hut is the highest in the alps and which hut we use will depend on group fitness and acclimatisation. A traverse of Liskamm will only be included if the group is working on a 1:2 ratio (please ask for a price for this option).
  • Day 7
    Margherita Hut if Gnifetti was used on the previous night via local 4,000 metre peaks.
  • Day 8
    Monte Rosa (4634m) summit if weather permits (Grade AD), only on a 1:2 ratio and descent to Zermatt. Groups on larger ratios will ascend Zumsteinspitze and then descend the Grenz glacier and return to Zermatt for the night. Another high altitude day with some ridge scrambling/climbing on ice,snow and rock.
  • Day 9
    Travel to Chamonix. Rest day with various alternatives (sleeping, shopping, sun-bathing, simple rock climbing and preparing for attempt on Mt Blanc).
  • Day 10
    Ascend to a hut for attempt on Mont Blanc. Which hut will be dictated by availability, fitness and snow conditions.
  • Day 11/12
    Mont Blanc 4807m (Grade PD-). 1:2 ratio for this section of the course only.
    The ascent of Mont Blanc usually only takes two days including ascent and descent. An extra day is allowed in case of poor weather. The whole twelve day programme has some room for adjustment in case of unforeseen problems or poor weather. In the case of really bad weather and lost days we will concentrate on one of the two main tops as agreed by those taking part. If we are successful in completing the whole of the above programme, those taking part will have visited some of the highest and most beautiful glacial regions in the Alps. The first half of the course is known as the ' Italian High Level Route'. 

Description

Price includes:
  • All hut costs and hut meals
  • All mountain transport (cable cars).
  • Valley B&B
  • All Guides expenses
  • Tuition, guiding services and ropes.
Price does not include:
  • Valley evening meals or packed lunches..
  • Alpine insurance (Contact BMC)
  • Travel to the Alps

Note: The exchange rate may change, 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