Mont Blanc Ascent

Chamonix / France

2 – 6 day Mont Blanc Ascent Packages from Chamonix / France
Limited dates available – see below!
We offer Normal Route via Tete Rousse and Gouter Hut or Traverse Route via Aiguille du Midi and Cosmique Hut, other Routes also available

Limited dates from June – September or April – May on Skis.

Mont Blanc Ascent Highlights:

  • The Alps’ highest peak at 4810m
  • Strenuous, but not too technical
  • One night in a hut above 3500m
  • Breathtaking views!
  • Great way to end a trip to the Alps
  • Chamonix, the capital of alpinism

Mont Blanc is certainly one of the most popular climbs in the Alps. No surprise since it’s the highest peak of the Alps, offers beautiful routes with easy access and has a reputation of being “technically easy”. The latter is not really true: Prior experience with crampons and ice axe, excellent endurance and good acclimatization are essential to make the 2-3 day ascent a success. For the less experienced Mont Blanc candidates we recommend our 4-6 day packages (See our Itinerary & Trip Packages tab below) in order to acclimatize and get your crampon skills up to speed.

The Mont Blanc ascent is also an excellent 2 day addition to our Haute Route Glacier Trek, the Monte Rosa Peaks Traverse or other custom trips that we gladly quote you for.

Most commonly we use the Normal Route via Gouter Hut (2 guests per guide) or the more difficult “Traversee Route” (“Trois Monts”) via the Cosmique Hut (1 guests per guide) but we can also take you on any of the more technical and remote routes on Mont Blanc including the more challenging normal route from the Italian side (“Aiguilles Grises”)

All our Mont Blanc trips are custom to accommodate your preferred time, route and lodging standard.

3 DAY MONT BLANC TRIP PACKAGE
The three day Mont Blanc ascent is preferred over the two day option by most guides because it
a) increases the chances for success by adding a 3rd day providing two days available to summit  and
b) substantially reduces the rock fall hazard on the Normal Route when we manage to summit on day 2 as we can pass through the dangerous crux section below the Gouter Hut in the early morning hours both ascending and descending.

Option a) Mont Blanc via Tete Rousse and Gouter Hut:
Day 1: Meet in Les Houches or Chamonix late morning. Gondola to Bellevue and short train ride to Nid D’Aigle. Three hours of hiking on an easy trail are followed by a short traverse across a little glaciated plateau to arrive at the Tete Rousse Hut (3167m = 10400ft) for lodging. The afternoon is spent to get gear organized and relax for the midnight wake up call.

Day 2: We leave the hut around 1 AM with helmets on our heads and crampons strapped to our boots, roped on for the technical crux, the ascent to the Gouter Hut. A short bit of glacier travel is followed by the traverse of the “Grand Couloir”, the most notorious and objectively dangerous part of the ascent (45 min). From there it will take about two hours of scrambling along a steep, rocky spur, sometimes with support from fixed cables, to reach the Gouter Hut (3800m = 12500ft) for a short break and to leave whatever little extra overnight gear we brought. We continue with the ascent following the string of lights of the 120 climbers who slept at the Gouter Hut this night and who are usually a good 1.5 hrs ahead of us. The climb follows the steep glacier with little difficulties all the way to the only shelter on the way, the Vallot Hut (4300 meters = 14100ft), which can be used for a quick stop to find shelter from the wind – mostly we do not stop there, though, as the hut is often overcrowded and uninviting. The route now follows the “Arete des Bosses” (Bumby Ridge) and becomes steep and in places very narrow and exposed with amazing views all the way down the valley to Chamonix. The narrow track along the ridge at this point has to be shared with many descending parties which can create additional hazard and crowding. Finally, for the last 5 minutes the ridge widens and we arrive at the pretty flat and spacious summit at 4808 m (15,770 ft). The normal ascent time from the Gouter Hut usually takes 5 hrs for the 1000 meters (3300 ft). We retrace our steps all the way back to the Gouter Hut where we usually arrive totally exhausted in the early afternoon after being on our feet for 12 – 14 hrs non-stop and in high altitude. The day is a total grind and the 1650 m (5400 ft) ascent and 1000 m (3300 ft) descent only works if you are exceptionally fit, well acclimatized and not easily intimidated by hazard or exposure!

Day 3: Ideally we sleep through the 2 o’clock wake up call and take a later breakfast option to start the descent to the Tete Rousse Hut with the first light. We retrace our steps and usually breathe a big sigh of relief once we arrive at the Tete Rousse Hut, where we leave technical difficulties and rock fall hazard behind us. Arrival at the Nid D’Aigle train station is usually around mid-day, arrival in Chamonix around 2 pm.

Should we not have summitted on day two, we still have the option to leave at 3 AM with most everyone else and try to reach the Mont Blanc summit today. This requires a good pace as we try to pass the most exposed rock fall zone on the descent below the Gouter Hut before the sun turns into the west facing slope, which commonly increases the rock fall hazard dramatically! Our goal is to be back at the Tete Rousse Hut before mid day, which means an arrival in Chamonix around 5 pm.

Price / person (includes guide, guide expenses, gondola return ticket, 2 nights hut lodging with 3 course dinners and breakfast, rental equipment):
€ 2300, US$ 2880 / person at 1 participant / guide
€ 1410, US$ 1760 / person at 2 participants/guide

Option b) 1:1 client / guide ratio only
Mont Blanc Via Cosmique Hut:

Day 1: This is basically identical with our two day format but an additional day for training / acclimatization / weather cushion. Gondola ride to the Aiguille Du Midi, where you will have the option to take the elevator to the summit terrace to enjoy the views of your ascent route to the Mont Blanc. A short descent down the east ridge of the Aiguille du Midi takes you in about 45 minutes to the modern and relatively spacious Cosmique Hut (3600 m = 11800ft). In the afternoon, we often do a short training session in the neighborhood of the hut or just hang out on the terrace to recover from the quick change in altitude (Chamonix is located at 1000m = 3280 ft).

Day 2: Training climb and acclimatization day. The objective is to spend time in high altitude, get you warmed up and reemphasize technical skills, but not tire you out for the e Mont Blanc ascent the next day (14 – 16 hrs, departure time at 1 AM!). Options for training climbs are: Cosmique Ridge or traverse of the Valley Blanche and climb Aiguille du Toule or Tour Ronde, North Face of the Pointe Lachenal or the triangle du Tacul. Return to the Cosmique Hut for lodging.

Day 3: The normal ascent time from the hut to the summit is about 6 hours, which gets you to the top between 7.30 and 8.00 AM. (Start from the hut is approx. at 01.00 AM).
There is no shelter on the way! The route follows a steep glacier trail to the Mont Blanc du Tacul, depending on conditions, there might be some steeper steps to climb. The crux is a 60-70 meter 55 degree pitch into the Col Maudit, which requires front pointing technique on your crampons. From there relatively easy to the summit. The descent will either be via the Normal Route (Gouter Hut) or back the same way, which gets you back to Chamonix usually around 4 – 6 pm.

Price / person (includes guide, guide expenses, gondola return ticket, 2 nights hut lodging with 3 course dinners and breakfast, rental equipment):

€ 2300, US$ 2880 at 1 participant / guide

4 DAY MONT BLANC TRIP PACKAGE
This program is recommended for clients who are new to the use of crampons in steep glaciated terrain (or who haven’t done it in a long time). This option may be most suitable for clients who have lodging arranged in the Chamonix Valley with their family and / or have been spending time acclimating doing high level walks on their own, but do prefer a full day of technical skills training.

Option a) 1 Day Skills Training “Mer de Glace” plus 3 Day Mont Blanc Ascent:
Day 1: Cog train ride to Montenvers, descent the steep ladders to the Mer de Glace glacier and spend the day doing technical training using crampons and ice aces. The Mer de Glace offers the best training ground imaginable for glacier training around Chamonix. Return to Chamonix for lodging. (Chamonix lodging not included in trip price)

Mont Blanc via Tete Rousse and Gouter Hut:
Day 2: Meet in Les Houches or Chamonix late morning. Gondola to Bellevue and short train ride to Nid D’Aigle. The first three hours of hiking are on an easy trail to the Tete Rousse Hut (3167m = 10400ft) for lodging. Afternoon is reserved to do some training on your crampons and relax for the two hard days to come.

Day 3: Roping on and early start the ascent to the Gouter Hut. A short glacier is followed by the traverse of the “Grand Couloir”, the most notorious and objectively dangerous part of the ascent (45 min). From there it will take about two hours of scrambling, sometimes with support from fixed cables, to reach the Gouter Hut (3800m = 12500ft). We usually drop our backpack and climb a bit higher on tomorrow’s ascent route in order to promote acclimatization and get an idea of the terrain that we will travel in the dark the next day. Strong parties could also consider reaching the summit on day 2, especially if the weather indicates deteriorating conditions for the next day. Lodging at the Gouter Hut.

Day 4: Start from the hut is approx. at 02.00 AM. The normal ascent time from the hut to the summit is about five hours, which gets you to the top between 7.30 and 8.00 AM. There is one shelter on the way, the Vallot Hut (4300 meters = 14100ft), which can be used for a quick stop to find shelter from the wind – mostly we do not stop there, though. The descent route follows the same way all the way back to the mountain train, which puts us back into the valley around 3.30PM or later.

Price / person (includes guide, guide expenses, gondola return tickets, 2 night hut lodging with 3 course dinners and breakfast, rental equipment):
€ 3040, US$ 3800 at 1 participant/guide
€ 1750, US$ 2180 at 2 participants / guide
€ 1920, US$ 2395 at 3 participant / guide (2 guides for 3 clients for the 3 Mont Blanc Days)
€ 1540, US$ 1925 at 4 participant / guide (2 guides for 4 clients for the 3 Mont Blanc Days)

Option b) 2 Day Aiguille du Tour Training Trip plus 2 Day Mont Blanc Ascent:
Day 1: Gondola ride to the Col de Balme and 2.5 hrs hike to the Albert Premier Hut (2750 Meters). In the afternoon ice climbing / crampon use / glacier travel instruction on the Tour Glacier.

Day 2: 5 AM start and ascent either of the Tete Blanche (3400 Meters) or the Aiguille Du Tour (3550 Meters). Descent back to the Col du Balme via the Albert Premier Hut and return to the valley for lodging.

Day 3 and 4: Continue with our 2 Day Mont Blanc ascent either via Cosmique (Traverse Route) or Gouter Hut (Normal Route).

Price / person (includes guide, guide expenses, gondola return tickets, 2 night hut lodging with 3 course dinners and breakfast, rental equipment):

€ 1665, US$ 2075 at 2 participants / guide
€ 1595, US$ 1997 at 3 participant / guide (2 guides for 3 clients for the 3 Mont Blanc Days)
€ 1287, US$ 1615 at 4 participant / guide (2 guides fro 4 clients for the 3 Mont Blanc Days)
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5 DAY MONT BLANC TRIP PACKAGE
This program is recommended for clients who are new to the use of crampons in steep glaciated terrain (or who haven’t done it in a long time). The acclimatization effect of spending one or two nights in high altitude (2750 m) before embarking on the Mont Blanc climb makes this program superior to our shorter programs in terms of optimizing your chances for success on Mont Blanc.

Option a) 2 Days of training / acclimatization with one hut night above 2700 followed by 3 day Mont Blanc ascent.
Day 1: Gondola ride to the Col de Balme and 2.5 hrs hike to the Albert Premier Hut (2750 Meters). In the afternoon ice climbing / crampon use / glacier travel instruction on the Tour Glacier.

Day 2: 5 AM start and ascent either of the Tete Blanche (3400 Meters) or the Aiguille Du Tour (3550 Meters). Descent back to the Col du Balme via the Albert Premier Hut and return to the valley for lodging. (Chamonix lodging not included in trip price)

Mont Blanc via Tete Rousse and Gouter Hut:
Day 3: Meet in Les Houches or Chamonix late morning. Gondola to Bellevue and short train ride to Nid D’Aigle. The first three hours of hiking are on an easy trail to the Tete Rousse Hut (3167m = 10400ft) for lodging. Afternoon is reserved to do some training on your crampons and relax for the two hard days to come.

Day 4: Roping on and early start the ascent to the Gouter Hut. A short glacier is followed by the traverse of the “Grand Couloir”, the most notorious and objectively dangerous part of the ascent (45 min). From there it will take about two hours of scrambling, sometimes with support from fixed cables, to reach the Gouter Hut (3800m = 12500ft). We usually drop our backpack and climb a bit higher on tomorrow’s ascent route in order to promote acclimatization and get an idea of the terrain that we will travel in the dark the next day. Strong parties could also consider reaching the summit on day 2, especially if the weather indicates deteriorating conditions for the next day. Lodging at the Gouter Hut.

Day 5: Start from the hut is approx. at 02.00 AM. The normal ascent time from the hut to the summit is about five hours, which gets you to the top between 7.30 and 8.00 AM. There is one shelter on the way, the Vallot Hut (4300 meters = 14100ft), which can be used for a quick stop to find shelter from the wind – mostly we do not stop there, though. The descent route follows the same way all the way back to the mountain train, which puts us back into the valley around 3.30PM or later.

Option b) 3 Days of training / acclimatization with two hut nights (Albert Premier & Trient Hut) above 2700 followed by our either of our 2 day Mont Blanc ascent.

Option c) 1 Day Skills training Mer de Glace (see 4 day program) combined with 2 days of training peak ascents as above followed by our regular 2 day Mont Blanc ascent.

Price / person (includes guide, guide expenses, gondola return tickets, 3 night hut lodging with 3 course dinners and breakfast, rental equipment):
€ 3820, US$ 4775 at 1 participant / guide
€ 2030, US$ 2550 at 2 participants / guide
€ 2050, US$2560  at 3 participant / guide (2 guides for 3 clients for the 3 Mont Blanc Days)
€ 1685, US$ 2120 at 4 participant / guide (2 guides for 4 clients for the 3 Mont Blanc Days)
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2 DAY MONT BLANC TRIP PACKAGE
Our two day Mont Blanc package is only available for OnTop guests who have booked longer duration trips prior to their ascent eg: Haute Route, Monte Rosa, Stubai Alps peaks traverse.  This 2 day option is only for the extremely fit participants who (1) have previous experience climbing technical glaciated peaks and (2) who have spent at least two additional days in high altitude (either with or without one of our guides) preferably with one or more nights of lodging above 2500 meters before embarking on the Mont Blanc climb.

Option a) Ascent via Normal Route (via Gouter Hut):
Day 1: Please note: The two day Mont Blanc ascent will require a meeting with your guide the evening prior to your departure as we have to set off early the following day: Meet either 6.30am in the Chamonix Valley or 7.15 in Les Houches about 10 km down valley from Chamonix. Leaving any later can increase the risk of objective hazards. Gondola ride to Bellevue (1800m = 5900ft) and short train ride to Nid D’Aigle (2370m = 7770 ft). The first three hours of hiking are on an easy trail to the Tete Rousse Hut (3167m = 10400ft), which is where we will put the rope on. A short glacier is followed by the traverse of the “Grand Couloir”, the most notorious and objectively dangerous part of the ascent (45 min). From there it will take about two hours of scrambling, sometimes with support from fixed cables, to reach the Gouter Hut (3800m = 12500ft).

Day 2: Start from the hut is approx. at 02.00 AM. The normal ascent time from the hut to the summit is about five hours, which gets you to the top between 7.30 and 8.00 AM. There is one shelter on the way, the Vallot Hut (4300 meters = 14100ft), which can be used for a quick stop to find shelter from the wind – mostly we do not stop there, though. The descent route follows the same way all the way back to the mountain train, which puts us back into the valley around 3.30PM or later.

Option b) 1:1 client / guide ratio only
Ascent via the ‘Traverse Route’ aka ‘Trois Monts’ (via Cosmique Hut):

Day 1: Gondola ride to the Aiguille Du Midi, where you will have the option to take the elevator to the summit terrace to enjoy the views of your ascent route to the Mont Blanc. A short descent down the east ridge of the Aiguille du Midi takes you in about 45 minutes to the modern and relatively spacious Cosmique Hut (3600 m = 11800ft). In the afternoon, we often do a short training session in the neighborhood of the hut or just hang out on the terrace to recover from the quick change in altitude (Chamonix is located at 1000m = 3280 ft).

Day 2: Start from the hut is approx. at 01.00 AM. The normal ascent time from the hut to the summit is about 6 hours, which gets you to the top between 7.30 to 8.00 AM.
There is no shelter on the way! The route follows a steep glacier trail to the Mont Blanc du Tacul, depending on conditions, there might be some steeper steps to climb. The crux is a 60-70 meter 55 degree pitch into the Col Maudit, which requires front pointing technique on your crampons. From there relatively easy to the summit. The descent will either be via the Normal Route (Gouter Hut) or back the same way, which gets you back to Chamonix usually around 4 – 6 pm.

Price / person (includes guide, guide expenses, gondola return ticket, 1 night hut lodging with 3 course dinners and breakfast, rental equipment):

€ 1520, US$ 1900 at 1 participant / guide
€ 950, US$ 1190 at 2 participants / guide

Can I Do It?

Very strenuous 2 – 3 day mountaineering trip in high altitude (4800m = 15750 ft) that requires enough stamina for a 14 hr day on your feet on the summit day with few brakes. For essentially all of the climb you will be roped to your guide. On the Normal Route via Gouter Ridge the main difficulty involves steep rock scrambling (at times on crampons) to get to the Gouter Hut on day 1. The last two hours of the climb require front pointing on crampons and finally a very exposed traverse along the icy / snowy summit ridge. The Traverse Route via Cosmique Hut involves an easy first day, but the summit day is longer and more strenuous than the normal route and requires front pointing on your crampons on several occasions. We recommend the two day Mont Blanc format only to participants who (1) have previous experience climbing technical glaciated peaks and (2) who have spend at least two additional days in high altitude (either with or without one of our guides) before the Mont Blanc climb.

Detail and Logistics

Meeting Point:
1) Either in our partner hotel in the Chamonix Valley or 2) by individual arrangement at a meeting point of your preference or 3) at the gondola station.
Please note: meeting time with your guide will require an evening prior meeting and an EARLY departure for this 2 day trip, either 6.30am in the Chamonix Valley or in Les Houches about 10 km down valley from Chamonix at 7.15am. Leaving any later can increase the risk of objective hazards.

Climate, Weather, Temperatures:
High season for all mountaineering in the western Alps is mid-July through August, mainly due to the stable weather that time of the year. Day time temperatures can vary between 30C (86F) in the valleys to -20C (-4F) on clear mornings, when we start our day from a high level hut. The Mont Blanc is very exposed to extreme weather and high winds with corresponding wind chill factors are common place. that means, it can be REALLY cold! Best to check the weather forecast for freezing level and winds, talk to your guide and talk to your guide the day before the trip starts and bring warm clothing accordingly.

Services Included in the Total Price:
Guiding by an internationally (UIAGM/IFMGA) certified, multilingual mountain guide or guide aspirant under supervision. Dormitory lodging in a mountain hut with 3 course dinner (soup, meat entree and dessert) & breakfasts. Return ticket for Aiguille Du Midi gondola or Bellevue gondola / Tramway du Mont Blanc (depending on route chosen), use of technical equipment, (harnesses, crampons, ice axes, rope, carabiners), all guide expenses (driving, gondola, hut & valley lodging)

Not Included Are:
Air fares, lunch (Sandwiches, snacks can be purchased in the huts or in the valley), lodging in the Chamonix valley (quoted seperately), drinks (in the huts: bottled water = Euro 5 – 10/ liter, beer 0.33 = Euro 5 / can, wine = Euro 15 – 20 for 1/2 liter), additional fees for gondola / mountain train should you traverse the mountain and descend via a different route.

Mont Blanc FAQs

Which Mont Blanc Route is the easiest and least dangerous?
Amongst the 100 or so mountaineering routes that lead to the summit of Mont Blanc we mainly use one of the two normal routes from the French (Chamonix) side:

The Normal Route via the Gouter Hut is clearly the easiest with the main technical difficulties being in the rock scramble below the Gouter Hut and a short exposed section on ice and now on the summit ridge.The “Gouter Route” is notorious for being exposed to rock fall hazard especially in the afternoons when the sun hits the Western aspect crux section below the Gouter Hut. It has become quite common for the “Gouter Route” to close (per executive order of the mayor) in periods of extended summer heat due to the rock fall hazard getting out of hand.  Client to guide ratio is restricted to 2:1 for the Gouter Route.

The Traverse Route (Aka “Trois Monts”) via Cosmique Hut is more strenuous on the summit day (4000m = 1000ft more altitude difference from the hut to the summit compared to the Gouter Route), it requires extensive front pointing on your crampons and climbing along a narrow and exposed ridge when traversing Mont Maudit en route to the summit of Mont Blanc. The route is known for icefall and / or avalanche hazard, the latter can be quite persistent after recent snowfall, especially in early and late season. Many guides nowadays are very selective as to when they are willing to use the traverse route or they avoid it all together because of hazard concerns. The route has seen numerous avalanche accidents over the past 20 years the worst on July 12, 2012 claiming 9 lives (see comments re. risk considerations at the bottom of this FAQ page).

For fit clients and assuming a 1:1 client:guide ratio, we can also maintain the option of traversing the mountain, which means using both routes either ascending or descending, which certainly gives you the best adventure!

On average there are about 4 – 8 fatalities / year on both “normal routes” on Mont Blanc combined.

Which Strategie provides the Highest Chances of Success to Climb Mont Blanc:
First off, excellent fitness, acclimatization and high skill level are key to success on Mont Blanc. Additionally, we recommend a 3 day ascent spending the first night at the Tete Rousse Hut (3200 m) and the second night at the Gouter Hut (3800 m) because it enables you to possibly summit on either day 2 or day 3 and thus providing a bit of a weather cushion. Ideally we leave the Tote Rousse Hut around 1 AM on day 2 and can take most of the day to summit and descent to the Gouter Hut for lodging in he evening. On day 3 we descend back to Nid D’Aigle (3200 m) to catch the train back to the valley which means that we can avoid travelling the crux section below the Gouter Hut at night or early morning when cooler temperatures reduce the  rock fall hazard.

If we don’t manage to climb Mont Blanc on day 2, fit participants still have a chance to summit on day 3 from the Gouter Hut by leaving at 2 or 3 AM.

What is the best season to climb Mont Blanc:
The Gouter and the Tete Rousse Huts along the Normal Route on Mont Blanc usually open from June 1 to September 30 but they are known to shut down earlier / open later should conditions or weather be adverse. Outside of these periods, the huts only offer their non-guarded “winter quarters”, which means only unheated sleeping quarters with mattresses and basic wool blankets are provided.

The core season for climbing Mont Blanc usually goes from end of June – mid September. Reasons why the core season is shorter than the hut opening period are often persisting high levels of residual snow in June or early snow in September, both of which make the Mont Blanc climb more difficult and potentially more hazardous. Also, in early June and late September the weather is often not as stable as in July and August. Most importantly the Bellevue Gondola and “Tramway du Mont Blanc” may be closed for parts of June and September, which can add an additional 1300 meters (4250 ft) to the Mont Blanc ascent on the Normal Route requiring an additional 1-2 days.  For more details regarding opening times of the gondola / tram please see below.

When do Bellevue Gondola/Tramway du Mont Blanc open for the summer season?
The summer schedule is published on the web site on the Compagnie du Mont Blanc.

In 2018 the Mont Blanc tramway will open from Saturday, June 16.

How do the Hut Reservations work for Mont Blanc?
The 120 spots in the Gouter Hut are being distributed via an online booking process with scheduled release dates starting as early as mid December and then for the general public starting mid April. Once a contingent on available spaces goes online at 8AM Central European Time on each of those release dates, core season spots tend to book out within 15 minutes. Other than that, last minute spots are available 3 days before the scheduled night at the Gouter Hut by calling the hut keeper directly. Hence reserving your Mont Blanc package sooner rather than later is to your advantage!

The Tete Rousse Hut is also an online booking process, which we are able to book no earlier than 45 days to your hut date. We can also manage to pick up unconfirmed spots on shorter notice, even inside 3 days prior to your trip date.

What if I don’t have a second participant to join me?
The common client to guide ratio for Mont Blanc is 2 : 1. OnTop can actively assist in finding climbing partners, however there are some inherent risks of compatibility that need to be considered if you are climbing with someone you haven’t met before. The guide will have to cater to the weakest team member and including having to turn around on summit day (or even below the Gouter Hut….) Hence it can be best to find someone you know personally or consider 1:1 client/guide ratio.
We do not set up groups/partners for Mont Blanc, however we can pass on your brief description and email addresses if you wish for us to help.

What if the Weather is bad or Mont Blanc is “Closed”?
Should the weather or mountain conditions (avalanche hazard, high winds, bad weather….) suggest that the Mont Blanc ascent is not feasible or too dangerous, our guides will look into the following options: 1) Reschedule the summit day (for example climbing the summit on day 1 by using an early gondola from Chamonix and then spending the night in a hut on the descent) 2) Ascent of the Gran Paradiso (about 2.5 hrs drive south in Italy) which benefits from being better protected to inclement weather 3) Ascent of a more technical but lower elevation peak in a neighboring range to avoid new snow or possibly high winds in higher elevations or 4) instructional days in lower elevation.

In the record heat of the summer of 2003, the mayor of the base town of St. Gervais ordered the Gouter Hut closed and it was not recommended to climb the Normal Route via Gouter Hut due to increased rock fall hazard for about three weeks. Should this or something similar occur, our first preference will be to use the traverse route via the Cosmique Hut, which is much less susceptible to the woes of hot weather.

Will I receive a refund if my summit is unsuccessful?
OnTop Ltd. will not issue refunds if your Mont Blanc summit is unsuccessful.
Please make sure you have adequate travel insurance for trip cancellation, medical and illness coverage. For medical evacuation insurance, please see our insurance page for recommendations.

Where can I rent equipment?:
There are 2 stores we recommend in Chamonix, Sanglard Sports rentals or
Snell Sports rentals

What sort of boots will I need to climb Mont Blanc?
Your boot needs to be mountaineering boot warm enough for summit day, they will need to attach a crampons and waterproof. Most people choose the “La Sportiva” boot for this trip. We would definitely not recommend carrying a spare pair of boots. On the first leg of your trip, you will walk on trails for about 1.5 hrs before stepping on the glacier for glacier practice in the pm of the first day. Next day is 30 min until you hit the glacier.
For the ascent to Mont Blanc, you could probably get away on hiking boots all the way to the Gouter Hut but often enough, crampons are already required at the Tete Rousse Hut level = only 3 hrs of trail walking to start with. In summary, Stick with mountaineering boots.

Will I be able to access a Cell Network or Wi-Fi?
Cell phone access in the mountains around Chamonix is generally quite good but you will also encounter some spots without signal.

Cell phone signals are pretty good for most of the Mont Blanc ascent including the Gouter and Cosmique Hut. If you are planning to bring your cell phone or Blackberry make sure to inquire with your provider, if your plan includes European roaming capabilities. In the Mont Blanc range, you might also be picking up cell phone signals from Italy and / or Switzerland.

Many Cafes and bars offer internet access in the Chamonix Valley.

If your itinerary includes the Trient Hut, you need to climb a hill behind the hut for 15 minutes to get cell a signal.

Each hut has plugs to recharge phones etc.  but there is a bit of competition for them these days. All plugs are at 220 volts.
Risk Considerations/Is it Safe?: A comment written by head guide Jorg Wilz, after the multi-fatality accident on Mont Blanc July 12, 2012.

July 13, 2012

Yesterday’s terrible avalanche accident on Mont Blanc is the worst accident in summer mountaineering that I recall in my 28 years of professional mountain guiding. Our company had a very close call involving one guided party (1 guide, 2 guests) trying to summit Mont Blanc. Strong winds, ongoing risk evaluation and hesitation on our guide’s side lead to a prolonged break before entering the slope of the accident that leads to the Col Maudit. In the end our group was caught at the periphery of the slide and very fortunately remained largely unharmed. They descended back to the Aiguille du Midi on their own steam. Our thoughts are with the victims who include Roger Payne, former President of the British Mountain Guides and the British Mountaineering Council.

There is a lot of speculation if the slide was triggered by ice fall from the sherac towers higher up in the slope or simply by human loading. The former was the case in an avalanche accident on the lower part of the same route which claimed 8 lives in 2008. It is quite certain that recent wind loading was responsible for added load on the instability in the snowpack and the large volume of the avalanche. Best I could find was this news website that shows some images taken by a British mountain guide only 20 minutes after the event. Unfortunately, the perspective doesn’t give a good view of the start zone higher up, but it appears that there were multiple fracture lines further down on the slope which could also be fractures that stepped down to deeper instabilities in the snow pack?

In the end, for most of our clients who booked Mont Blanc later this summer the main question remains if it is “safe” to climb the Mont Blanc via the Col Maudit right now or in the near future. The answer is that it is never “safe” to climb Mont Blanc or any technical peak for that matter.

I feel we disclose the risks properly on our Mont Blanc pages with wording like “On average there are about 4 – 8 fatalities / year on both “normal routes” on Mont Blanc combined”. Our guides do their best to minimize the risk (we had several parties turn around at the same spot earlier this week and there was a discussion along the same lines at the day of the accident). Often clients aren’t happy about aborting a climb due to risk considerations, especially if other parties continue and return happily from the summit later. From the guide’s perspective, all it takes is a small lapse in judgment or just straight out bad luck to turn from shining hero to the reckless villain who makes headlines in the newspaper……

As far as the current avalanche hazard on the Col Maudit is concerned, it will be good to give it some time to let the instability settle out. More information from the site would be valuable to make better assessment as to the timing. Under good conditions (warmer temps, no wind loading) this could take anything from a few days to a few weeks.

How about using the route via Gouter Hut or starting from the Tete Rousse? The main issue, as far as risk is concerned, is the rock fall hazard, which is particularly common during the heat of the summer as we are currently experiencing it. Overall I suspect that the normal route via Gouter Hut has seen more fatalities over the years than the Traverse / Trois Monts route…….

At any rate, we encourage our clients to carefully assess the risk they are willing to take and if Mont Blanc is the right climb for them. There are countless peaks in the Alps that involve lower risk and often a better experience (no overcrowding to mention one). The choice is yours. All we can do is try to make it happen while doing our best to keep you safe.

Feedback

Mont Blanc Ascent – The Alps’ highest peak at 4810m
References of prior guests: We will gladly put potential clients in touch with previous participants of each trip in order for interested guests to get more personalized references and their questions answered from a more objective point of view than what our office could provide.

” Fantastic guide. Very professional. Seb was very discerning and professional warning us of challenges as needed. As well, he was warm and in great rapport the rest of the time. He managed our expectations and kept our spirits high. Where he really shone as a guide was taking the decision to ascend on day 4- with a risk of weather. We ended up with the perfect conditions: weather and lack of traffic. He took an educated risk that really made our experience as perfect as it could have been.
Communication and trip organisation was Fantastic, again- the pre-reading material was informative managing our expectations. You responded to us quickly when we had questions. Thank you for being accommodating with the payment transfer, as well.

The kit list supplied was very useful and we found that we had everything that we needed to climb successfully.
Perfect Itinerary – thank you for the advice on the number of days to book. The two practice days prior to the ascent were very helpful to get us used to Mountaineering. As well, the summit itinerary split over three days was perfect. We had great weather, which was helpful; however, to have the option to summit on two days if weather was not in our favour was reassuring.
The accommodation and food at the huts were far better than expected.
Thank you for pre-arranging the vegetarian meals. This was a great comfort for Robin. 10/10!! ”
Kristyn E. & Robin F. UK

” Geoffrey is a real professional and was very patient with me. Communication was really excellent from your office. I would certainly recommend On Top.”
Paddy W., Ireland

” Philippe was very knowledgeable and careful and was a good balance between wanting to summit and perfectly willing to not if conditions or circumstances were not right. So basically putting safety first ahead of summiting
Can you be more specific in your info regarding the boots to bring. Based on the info I brought Goretex boots that had the special heel to attach crampons so they are made for snow mountaineering, but when Philippe inspected our gear before departing he said my feet may not be warm enough when summiting on the 3rd day so I bought extra thick mountaineering wool socks and this wasn’t enough as my feet started freezing around 14,000 ft and I could not go on. Almost everybody I saw used these high end “La Sportiva” boots. I would highly recommend OnTop be very specific in terms of the model of boots to bring.
Itinerary was good, 3 days to ascend and descend seems reasonable although the 3rd day ascending from Gouter and descending all the way down can be very tiring although once you summit I want to get down as quickly as possible
Food was surprisingly good for remote mountain huts, Gouter hut had running water in the sinks. Would have been nice if the Tete Rouse hut had running water in the sinks
10/10 – I think you guys are very organized and responsive ”
Kevin B., TX, USA

” Had a SPECTACULAR trip. Thanks a million for facilitating it. What can I say about Stephane that could be anything but good?! He’s like a mix between my favourite uncle and my older brother. Super cool under stress, and very experienced. His time in the mountains previously gave me quite a bit of confidence.I appreciated the timely responses, as well as honoring my request to summit straight from Tete Rousse. (It kicked my butt, btw.) Definitely a 10/10…already recommended!”
Nathan M., UT, USA

” I wanted tell you what a GREAT time our group had in Chamonix this past week. The logistics went off like Swiss clockwork. Our guides – Didier and Viet- were terrific. We felt safe in their hands and acquired additional Mountaineering skills that will be useful in the future. The staff at the Vert were kind and helpful. Of course summiting Mont Blanc was the icing (literally) on the cake. We appreciate your assistance organizing this fantastic experience.
On Top provided excellent resources for our trip and tailored a climbing itinerary that met our timing and skill levels. 1 climber did not summit, however this was his issue. The guides were thoughtful about discussing his deficiencies.
European and U.S. Guiding is different in there is more “babysitting” in the U.S. ( probably from a liability standpoint). It’s important that U.S. Climbers understand this and need to be more self-reliant. Veit told that this was our climb. This was refreshing but took a little getting used to. The guides made me feel safe and confident that I would enjoy the climb.
Better communication for the departure to the mountain on the 25th would have been helpful. The printout stated that we would met early morning but we did not meet until 1 pm. Minor point but we have used that time productively. Also there was minor confusion about the gear list ( e.g. Goggles)
Mont Blanc is a bigger tougher mountain than most guiding companies let on to . There are more technical elements than I expected and summit day from the Tete Rousse was a BIG day.”
Bruce F., VA, USA

” … thank you for setting me up with Andrea .. excellent communication, understanding of this area and depth of experience. . Would do again! ”
Robb T., CA, USA

Gear List

1. Technical Equipment

  • Leather or plastic mountaineering boots* sturdy with RIGID soles
  • crampon compatible
  • Backpack (40 – 45 liters) Best bring a big plastic (garbage) bag as an inside liner for your backpack or package clothing items in separate plastic bags.
  • Climbing helmet**
  • Ice axe for glacier travel (50-75cm, classic pick)**
  • Crampons that fit your boots or can be easily adjusted**
  • Anti-balling plates for your crampons (highly recommended)**
  • Collapsible ski poles* (One pole is very useful and recommended)
  • 1 harness**
  • 1 locking carabiner**
  • Crevasse rescue equipment, if you are familiar with using it. (Prusik slings, webbing, pulleys, auto-locking device). Your guide will bring a full set.

All items marked ‘*’ can be rented from a rental shop locally.
All items marked ‘**’can be provided by OnTop.
Please bring your own equipment if you have it.

2. Clothing
We suggest using the ‘layer system’: Light technical clothing that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly if sweaty or wet. Layers can be put on and taken off fast if weather conditions change during the day.

  • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar)
  • Wind and waterproof over pants with side zippers (Gore Tex or similar)
  • Mountaineering pants
  • Fleece or heavy jacket
  • Medium weight fleece sweater
  • Long underwear or running tights (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
  • Undershirt – preferably long sleeves (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
  • Warm socks for mountaineering boots (wool/synthetic outers)
  • Thin “liner” socks
  • Warm hat, covering your ears
  • Lightweight gloves (fleece or leather)
  • Warm, waterproof pair of gloves
  • Gaiters (unless pants lock tightly to your boots)
  • Sun hat, with a wide brim if possible
  • Bandana (optional)

3. Hut lodging

  • Spare underwear, socks
  • Down vest or light insulated jacket (optional)
  • Light-weight sleeping bag liner (preferably silk) – wool covers are provided by the hut
  • Light hut slippers (optional) – we recommend to use the ones the huts provide
  • Light stuff sacs or zip lock bags to keep your backpack organized (optional)
  • Toiletries : only tooth-brush and tooth-paste
  • Alpine Club Membership Card (if you hold membership)
  • Ear plugs (optional but very useful)

4. Other Items

  • Sun glasses (heavy duty – glacier use, with very good UV protection)
  • Sun screen and lip protection
  • Water bottle, preferably insulated, minimum volume: 1 liter or Camelback (if too cold, bladder tube might freeze up!)
  • Head lamp with spare batteries and bulb
  • Blister kit (optional)
  • Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc.)
  • Personal items (prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses, etc.)
  • Pocket knife or Leatherman (optional)
  • Passport
  • (Health/Travel) Insurance documents
  • Zip-lock bag for wallet and other documents to keep them dry (recommended)
  • Camera, batteries (optional)
  • Compass, maps and GPS (optional)

Booking

Please read and fill out this additional Reservation Form and FAQ.

GROUP SIZES:

Client / Guides
Max. 2 / Guide for the Mont Blanc ascent. Higher ratios possible for training days.

DIFFICULTY:
Mont Blanc Ascent
  • Up to 14 hrs/day
  • Requires stamina
  • High Altitude!
  • Exposed ice ridge
  • Rock scrambling
  • Front Pointing
  • Objective hazards!
2018 DATES:
Mont Blanc Ascent

**Please Note: due to lack of Gouter Hut reservations we can only offer these dates held as a contingency by OnTop:

Gouter Hut reservations available (night prior to summit attempt):

06-Aug
13-Aug
20-Aug
27-Aug
06-Sep
12-Sep

There are options for you to book Gouter Hut spots yourself directly via this link: FFCAM

  • on foot: June – Oct
  • on skis: March – June

For Trip Packages from 2 – 5 Days please see “Itinerary” Tab below

PRICES:
Mont Blanc Ascent

2-5 Day Trips:
Pricing below quoted per person for groups of 2 guests. Individual guests or groups > 2 please refer to itinerary tab below or inquire with us.

  • 2 Days: € 950, US$ 1190
  • 3 Days:€ 1410, US$ 1760
  • 4 Days: € 1750, US$ 2180
  • 5 Days: € 2030, US$ 2550

Inclusions:
Guide, guide expenses, all hut fees, dinner and breakfast at the hut, gondola and mountain train return fares, rental of technical equipment

Please note: Our Mont Blanc prices do not include your lodging in the Chamonix Valley.