Mont Blanc

(15,782ft/4,808m), France

I just returned home and wanted to send you a note to let you know what an incredible experience I had with my recent Mont Blanc and Matterhorn trips in the Alps with AAI. This was the 5th trip I have done with AAI and it was exceptional. Jonathon Spitzer is without question the best guide I have ever worked with and a real asset for the company. His first priority was the group's safety, second people's enjoyment, and third meeting everyone's desire to summit. All were achieved in my estimate and I am happy to have chosen AAI again. - 2014 Climber More

Highlights:
• Highest peak in Western Europe
• Only American company with an all-inclusive trip (hotels, trams, lifts, etc.), making our prices highly competitive 
• Includes four nights in French/Swiss huts with breakfast and dinner (about $600 US value per/person)
• Welcome dinner in Chamonix.
• Includes six tram rides in France (about $200 US value per/person)
• Pre-climb training
• Climb of Aiguille Du Tour prior to Mt. Blanc
• Fully certified IFMGA mountain guides
• All hotels included during the trip (three nights at a three-star hotel in downtown Chamonix, France)
• 2:1 climber-to-guide ratio on Mt. Blanc portion 
• Nine-day program
• Alpine Ascents logo item

Ready for Mt. Blanc ?
Like our Mt. Rainier program this is a beginner climb, with the same fitness expectation. Please note this is not a trekking expedition and the rigors and demands are that of a mountaineering expedition. Prior climbs such as Whitney, Shasta or Kilimanjaro are excellent intros, but one should expect a far greater physical and technical challenge.

Overview
As the highest peak in Western Europe, Mt. Blanc is perhaps the most famed ascent in the Alps, and considered the birthplace of climbing. First climbed in 1786, Mt. Blanc maintains the same allure today given the peaks stunning beauty, pristine villages and its prominence as the Alps' high point. The peak has relatively easy access and Alpine Ascents will provide training prior to the climb and take on the summit of Aiguille Du Tour (3540m), before we attempt Mt. Blanc.

Climbing Mont Blanc with Alpine Ascents:
In 2013, 14 climbers, led by Jonathon Spitzer, summited. Jonathon is an American IFGMA guide who has been integral to the success of this program and lives in Chamonix in the summer months. Jonathon, with his staff of world-class certified guides, provides a high-quality experience through the French Alps.

It certainly wasn't the trip I had expected. Weather shut out our planned Mont Blanc summit (a disappointing repeat of my 2012 AAI Mont Blanc experience !), and snow left by that weather cut short our rescheduled attempt just below the summit. The snow also made Matterhorn simply impossible. Thanks to guide creativity, I still got in 12 days of interesting climbing and skill work, with a chance to grow in experience and confidence. Jonathon was a great manager as our plans had to be changed multiple times. He pulled it all together to make the trip challenging and fun despite the ugly conditions on the mountain. He also assembled a great team of guides, who worked well together to support all of us. I would climb again with any of these guys in a heartbeat. - 2014 Climber

We begin our climb in beautiful Chamonix, meeting at the hotel in the evening for a group dinner. The following morning our guides complete a full detailed gear check after our morning breakfast and we head to the nearby village of Le Tour (part of the Mt. Blanc Massif) to begin our glacier training.

Training and summit attempt of Aguille Du Tour (3540 meters/11,614 feet)  
Spending our first three climbing days above the beautiful village of Le Tour helps prepare us for Mont Blanc. We spend two nights at stunning huts located in the French and Swiss Alps. Acclimatizing while learning/reviewing skills is a major component of this program. Our practical climbing experience on Aiguille Du Tour also helps to prepare us for our ascent of Mont Blanc. After our summit attempt of Aiguille Du Tour, we return to Chamonix. That gives us a chance to dine, shower, change clothes and have a restful night before attempting Mont Blanc.

On to Mont  Blanc
Rested from our night in Chamonix, we begin our Mont Blanc ascent by boarding the Bellevue Tram and the Mont Blanc tramway car to 7,800 feet. We then travel by trail to the Tete Rouse hut at 10,400 feet, where we enjoy an early dinner before going to bed.  We wake for an alpine start our our ascent of Mont Blanc by a traverse across the Grand Couloir.  Once on the other side of the couloir, we encounter some moderate and steep scrambling over rocks to reach the Gouter Hut (12,500ft).  At the Gouter hut we will be able to take a nice break inside, before continuing towards the summit.  From the Gouter Hut, the climbing route changes character and becomes a snow and glacier climb.  After climbing for about 2 hours on snow with our crampons and ascending the Dome d'Gouter, we reach the famous Vallot emergency refuge at 14,400ft.  From the Vallot, the climbing route follows a steep and stunning ridgeline until reaching the spectacular summit ridge of Mont Blanc at 15,782ft. We attempt to reach the summit in the early morning, then retrace our route back to the Gouter Hut for a break. Then we descend to the Tete Rousse Hut, where we spend the night.

History
The first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc was on Aug. 8, 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard. Nearby Chamonix. Chamonix hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924. In 1965, the 7.25-mile long tunnel that goes under the Mont Blanc Massif was completed. This tunnel connects Italy with France, and is a major transportation route in the Alps.

Our guide did a great job of adapting/adjusting the program to suit the skill and experience of the climbers who showed up for this trip, and knows all the variations available in the locale to make that possible.

Prerequisites
This climb is challenging, and Excellent Physical Condition is required. Please review the training statement for this climb, as new climbers often have difficulty assessing the true demands of the ascent. Prior use of crampons or glacier travel is helpful but not required. This may include climbs of Mt. Rainier, Whitney or similar. Please note that most climbers do well on Mt. Blanc as a first ascent, but climbers must successfully complete the basic competency (fitness and skills) on the first 3 days in order to ascend Mt. Blanc on the following days. We place this caveat as a matter of safety. Some Prior climbing experience is helpful, but not required. (Mt. Rainier or Mt. Baker).

Physical Conditioning
Mont Blanc stands at 15,782ft and is considered a high altitude climb. Due to its proximity to the local towns and the luxurious hut system in place, there is a tendency to underestimate it. Climbers should be aware the summit day is over 5,000 vertical feet of elevation gain. In the best interests of personal safety, success and team compatibility, adequate training and excellent physical condition are required. Climbers must be able to carry an average of 30lbs or more. Climbers need to be in excellent physical condition for both personal enjoyment and to be an integral team member. We encourage you to contact us so that we may assist you in developing a training program that meets your particular needs.

Great program, really enjoyed the first three days of training/acclimatization hike around the glaciers and the impressive hut system found in the Alps. The extensive rock climbing was unexpected but all of the guides did a great job getting us prepared to handle challenges of the first portion of the summit day on the grand couloir.

Environmental Responsibility
Alpine Ascents is deeply committed to maintaining ecosystems at home and around the world. With each expedition, trek and course, we not only attempt to leave the environment as we found it, but strive to assist the local population in protecting the land and people indigenous to that region. Alpine Ascents reaches for the highest ethical business practices at home and abroad. Each staff member is dedicated to environmentally sound alpine ascents.

Environmental stewardship remains one of our core values, and we take Leave No Trace ethics and practices seriously. The mountains are our home and we are unwilling to sacrifice their preservation for human objectives. On every one of our courses and climbs, we teach and follow the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices.

Our commitment to environmental stewardship can be seen on our programs around the world. Over the years, with the assistance of our Sherpa teams, we have stepped up efforts to clean Mt. Everest. Our Wag Bag® program made a pioneering step in human waste management for the National Park System and Forest Service in the North Cascades. On Aconcagua and Mount Vinson, we pioneered a waste removal system on our climbs, utilizing the WAG Bag® system. And we continue our maintenance and minimal impact plans wherever we guide. We believe that given the proper information, most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment.

Alpine Ascents is committed to developing safe, self-reliant and environmentally conscious mountaineers.

Private Groups
We regularly organize private climbs for individuals, corporate groups, families and friends. We encourage you to book these climbs early, to help us be better able to fit these climbs to group-specific desires. Contact us to further discuss the benefits of private courses.

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