summer guide to climbing Mont Blanc

How to reach the summit of "the white mountain"

Summit of Mont Blanc on a late autumn morning alone

Summit of Mont Blanc on a late autumn morning alone

With the arrival of longer, warmer, sunnier (lol) days also comes the rush of aspiring mountaineers trying to reach the coveted summit of Mont Blanc.
Mont Blanc at 4810m is the highest peak of the Alps and by all means a worthy challenge for any and all climbers. Whilst there are far too many routes to review - the vast majority of ascents take place on the two main routes, via the 3 Mont Blanc or via the slightly easier Gouter Ridge.

First - you'll need to do some training. OK you'll need quite a bit of training. This obviously needs to be done weeks in advance of your trip. You can't expect to show up the week of the climb and be successful. Any endurance training will work - the best being running. That's because you'll be walking up and down this hill using those very same muscles. Can't run - cycle, swim, hike - just get out there. Minimum goal to shoot for is 3 times a week and one 6h day. The summit day on Blanc is long - really long like 10-12h long. That's a vertical ascent of just over 1000m and a whopping 2400m descent. All by early afternoon. We aim to cover a minimum of 300m an hour ascent rate.

Ascending the final ridge enroute to the summit.

Ascending the final ridge enroute to the summit.

Next comes the all important "prep training" that takes place once in Chamonix. Proper practice using the equipment - ie crampons, ice axe and movement skills. We also spend some time at altitude to help lessen the effects once we head to the summit. This week is also where many people fail. I firmly believe that a good prep week is essential in your success at reaching the summit of Mont Blanc. My Mont Blanc week course includes two "high camp" nights as well as a 4000m peak - the Grand Paradiso, to fully prep for your summit attempt. After more than 20 years of guiding "la bosse" and 100+ ascents, I think this is an all important factor to consider when climbing Mont Blanc.
For the rest, it is up to you - see you this summer.