What is “Acute Mountain Illness“ syndrome ?
It is a physical discomfort that generally occurs a couple of hours after reaching high altitude (above 3000m). People usually experience headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, extreme tiredness. If symptoms increase on the way up, their physical ability weakens in a significant way. As result, it is best to turn around: symptoms will automatically decrease as one loses altitude. Everyone’s metabolism can be affected differently by AMI. If symptoms start occurring at 2000/2500 meters, it is highly recommended to turn around immediately. More information is available from the Mountain Medical Research Institute (IFREMONT), which is located at the Chamonix Hospital. You can also go online for more details: www.ifremont.com
Who should not attempt the climb ?
It is necessary and understood that climbing up Mont Blanc requires a healthy lifestyle. Temporary states, such as pregnancy, momentary weakness, seasonal colds, as well as age – not to mention a doctor’s contraindication - are all good reasons to postpone the ascent.
What hazards should I expect on the way up ?
For the most part they are dangers inherent to high mountains, also referred to as “objective dangers”: weak snow bridges, serac and rock fall hazards, avalanche hazards, sudden weather changes (visibility, orientation problems) etc. A good knowledge of the mountain environment can reduce the risks. Prior to climbing and in order to reduce exposure, you can do a terrain recognition trip in hazardous areas. Also, respecting a pre-defined climbing schedule, turning around (in poor weather conditions), abandon due to bad mountain terrain conditions are all key actions in the planning of a safe ascent. Certain actions from inexperienced parties can put party members in danger. But more consequently, they can be a hazard to other parties behind them or going in the other direction. Due to its distinctiveness, the peak of Mont Blanc has always attracted hundreds of people, and amongst them are the ones who will only set foot into the world of high mountaineering once in a life time. So, Climbing Mont Blanc is a great idea, but not at all costs !
What is it like ?
Climbing Mont Blanc is a truly mountaineering endeavor, at everyone’s reach as long as you are in good health and physical condition. It is necessary to be appropriately prepared for altitude, and physically trained. One should also have a good knowledge of basic mountaineering techniques as well as safety mountain rules. If you are not familiar with mountaineering activities, we highly recommend the service and knowledge of a mountain guide, who will ensure safety during the climb by choosing the right route, assessing mountain conditions and evaluating objective dangers in order to adapt to difficulties encountered along the way (i.e. with technical sections, sudden weather changes, party rhythm and stress from party members eventually …)
Which route should I chose ?
In the Chamonix valley, there are 3 different ways you can chose from to reach the highest peak in the Alps. They all vary in difficulty. Your choice should match your mountaineering ability, and take into consideration mountain and weather conditions encountered at the time of the climb. Sudden changes and incidents occurring on a chosen route should also be taken into account, as they may increase climbing difficulties.
When is it best to climb Mont Blanc ?
Ideally, it is best to plan your climb from June to September, to benefit from mountain hut services and lift access. (Please check our website for opening dates). This will make your ascent more “comfortable” although trails and huts are very busy at that time. After mid-September the mountain becomes quiet again due to the closing of lifts and hut infrastructures.
To ski tour up Mont Blanc, the best period extends from March to May.
Weather conditions definitely influence decision making and choice of period to attempt the climb.
How long is the ascent ?
LNo matter which route you chose, it takes at least 2 days to complete the climb : - Day1 : climb up to the hut and stay overnight - Day 2 : Reach the summit and hike back down (a part of the climb to be considered seriously !). Climbing Mont Blanc is very demanding and strenuous. If you don’t want it to become a “horrendous” experience, you may also add a third day in order to minimize the effort on the way up and down.
Can I do the climb alone ?
Climbing to the summit of Mont Blanc involves high mountaineering conditions and terrain, presenting various objective dangers. Cramponing mistakes may result in sliding down a steep slope, or falling into a crevasse, which can be deadly (Any of the routes to climb Mont Blanc involve glacier crevasses !).
When and how should I book the hut ?
Nights at the hut must be booked in advance. Visit our website for detailed information regarding hut booking procedures. We do not recommend making an attempt when huts are full. For obvious safety reasons, hut keepers will not let you in to stay. Please note that camping overnight is not permitted along the “Normal Route”, as it is in a wilderness protected area. Bivouacs are allowed in the “base camp area” next to Tête Rousse hut only. Overnight tenting (bivouac) is tolerated from sunset to sunrise in the Chamonix valley and on municipality territory. Vallot hut is an emergency shelter only. It is not appropriate for base camping on the way to Mont Blanc, and offers very uncomfortable lodging (dirtiness, high altitude…) !
Is there a minimum/ maximum age to attempt the ascent ?
Teenagers aged 16 and above can attempt the climb, as long as they are in very good physical shape and well- trained. However, we strongly recommend a less demanding mountaineering experience (e.g. an easy 4000 meter peak). There is no age limit to climb Mont Blanc. 70 year-old people have been able to reach the summit, mainly thanks to their excellent health and physical condition.
How much does a mountain guide cost ?
There is a fixed price for climbing Mont Blanc. Information are available from local guides’ offices. A mountain guide can lead a party of 2 people maximum. In order to increase your chances to reach the summit, you can also join a Mont Blanc training course, managed and supervised by mountain guides. Signing up for an ice climbing course or a 4000 meter ascent with a guide are also a great way to prepare for Mont Blanc.How much does a mountain guide cost?