The highest peak of the Alps, the highest peak of Western Europe, and, according to the Hackett list, one among the Seven Summits (making it the highest in all of Europe) - Mont Blanc holds some prestigious titles, the kind climbers go after. For sworn climbers, however, the importance of Mont Blanc comes less from its titles and more from the fact that it forms the crown of an entire massif the slopes of which are, without a doubt, breeding grounds of modern alpinism. Mont Blanc in particular and the Alps by extension are where modern mountaineering was born in the late 1700s and for that alone, the old soul of Mont Blanc remains one that must be honored. Mont Blanc’s slender ridge lies at the Western end of the Alps – the region known to house Europe’s finest collection of glaciated mountains. The grandeur and the sheer bulk of the mountain make this one complex yet beautiful peak that straddles the border of Italy and France and stands proud and loud in the Graian Alps. While well over 100 routes have been created to reach its crown, the Goûter Route remains the most common earning it a rather unimaginative name, the ‘Normal Route’. The route lies on the north side of the mountain which falls completely in France. The staggering number of available routes on this mountain allows for the widest variety of climbing possible – another one of the many reasons which make this peak special. Mont Blanc earned a wicked reputation for being one of the deadliest mountains. Estimates put the average death toll on the mountain around 100 each year (according to an article in Outside Magazine). While there’s some truth to this story, for the most part, it is a misunderstood mountain. The deadly portions of the mountain on the Goûter Route like the Grand Couloir which is a 70M long narrow crossing over loose rocks prone to major rock fall and the epicenter for most fatalities is a very real threat. But mostly the mountain seems dangerous because of the confused narrative of it not being technically challenging and hence inviting a lot of unprepared climbers who tend to take on the climb on their own and make avoidable mistakes. What makes the White Mountain so deadly is not its height or technical climbing but the easy access and a flawed tagline that says ‘it is a mountain one can simply walk up on – it is, in fact, anything but! While it is true that Mont Blanc is not overly technical but to climb it requires extreme levels of physical and mental preparedness, knowledge of mountaineering equipment, and skills of navigating the high-altitude terrain with all its challenges such as rock falls, vertical ascents, crevasses, knife ridges, reading the weather, knowing acclimatization techniques and much more. A climb up Mont Blanc definitely warrants previous experience in mountaineering. The best time to climb Mont Blanc is between June and September. Stay on this page for more information on the Mont Blanc expedition.
Day 1 Land in Geneva (375M) and head to Saint Gervais Les Bains (580M)
Distance: 70 km (bus ride)
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
There are few things better than starting a climbing trip in the beautiful surroundings of Switzerland. One of the many towns settled along the banks of Lake Geneva, Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland. A global city and a financial hub, it is home to the headquarters of the United Nations. Geneva is not short on things to see and do. Plus, to look at climbing gear in these lands, the place from where most of what we use for our climbs comes from, invokes nothing less than a childlike sense of awe.
After landing in Geneva, we take an early evening bus to Saint Gervais Les Bains – a small village with the traditional charm much sought after in the Alps. The theme of this entire expedition is absolutely-gorgeous-jaw-somewhere-on-the-floor- kind of beauty and that starts today – on Day 1. The 70 km bus ride between Geneva to Saint Gervais takes us through the most scenic route with the full feel of passing through the kind of beauty that defines Switzerland crossing the border over to France – the hour and a half on this bus ride goes by in a wink!
Day 2 Saint Gervais les Bains (580M) to Tête Rousse Refuge (3,167M) via) and Nid d’Aigle (2,362M)
Saint Gervais les Bains to Nid d’Aigle:
Duration: 1-1.5 hour (Tram Ride)
Nid d’Aigle to Tête Rousse Refuge:
Distance: 2.5 kms (trek)
Duration: 3-4 hours
The summit of Mont Blanc, from the Goûter Route, takes us through three huts on the mountain. Camping on Mont Blanc is forbidden – one has to pre-book accommodation in the huts months in advance due to their limited capacity. The first of the three huts is Nid d’Aigle at an altitude of 2,362M. To get here is only a matter of one tramway ride through high mountains, deep valleys, and a 50-degree slope on which the tram puffs tirelessly up from Saint Gervais all the way to 100M below the hut. Once off the tram, a muddy trail takes us straight from the tiny tram station to the spaceship-like hut that is Nid d’Aigle. A famous spot in the winter for skiers of all levels, this hut is a popular destination all year round for all kinds of people – families out for a one-day adventure, trail runners who want to run up to the next hut, people there only for a meal with a view - the hut is a constant bustle between the first tram to when it is time for the last tram to take people down to their respective towns.
The tram ride as well as the hut itself give us the most magnanimous view of Mont Blanc which stands high dressed in an all-white robe in a valley still bursting with warm colors. Nid d’Aigle has a capacity of 16 beds, a functioning kitchen that serves you 3-course meals if you opt for food during your stay there, running water, an assortment of desserts, and beer! The luxury of the huts on this route is unmatched!
Although we have gained a fair bit of altitude already, we do not stay a night here. We continue on to the next hut which is Tête Rousse at 3,167M after a short break at Nid d’Aigle. Acclimatization should not be a problem since we haven’t done anything physically strenuous. The hike up to Hut 2 is also fairly comfortable and can be covered at our own pace since we have a lot of time on our hands. The only thing to remember is that we need to get to the hut before 5 PM to keep our reservation at the hut valid.
We cover the 700M elevation gain from Nid d’Aigle to Tête Rousse in close to 2.5kms. Because we are carrying our backpacks with all the personal equipment, clothing, and personal ration, we should be able to cover this distance in not more than 4 hours. The trail itself is muddy, marked, broad, and extremely comfortable slithering up gradually at first on a straight path. The last 200M gets steeper as we now zig-zag up a rocky pinnacle standing vertically above the gorge with a straight view down to the entire valley with all its villages, rivers, and greens.
After a 3-hour trek, we reach the Tête Rousse check post. Right after the check post, a short traverse on a glaciated plateau brings us straight to Refuge du Tête Rousse. We are now in boulder territory – all rocks and moraine with not a single strand of green to be seen.
Tête Rousse has a capacity of 72 people in the indoor dormitories and a few tents outside which can house some more people. There is no running water at this hut because the cold clogs up pipelines. Mont Blanc looks even more imposing from this height – we can even spot the third hut i.e. Refuge the Goûter as a tiny speck on the top of a vertical face of mud and boulders which is our trail for tomorrow.
We can also see the Grand Couloir from here, one washed-out section that runs horizontally on this otherwise vertical route. But we still have a day to worry about these sections. For now, enjoying the hut with all its luxuries and the glorious sunset from this altitude is the top priority. The days in these regions are really long and hence sundown is very late - sometimes as late as 08:30-09:00 PM.
Day 3 Tête Rousse Refuge (3,167M) to Refuge du Goûter (3,835M)
Distance: 1.1 km
Duration: 3-4 hours
Today we cross the Grand Couloir, also called the Death Couloir for it single-handedly being responsible for the highest number of fatalities on the mountain. Its funnel-like structure makes this entire gully prone to continuous rock fall with rocks crossing the horizontal traverse path at high speed making the smallest rock a massive risk for climbers crossing this section of the climb. The frequency of rock fall is lesser when the temperature is colder. It’s, hence, safer to cross during the first few hours after sunlight with the risk substantially increasing after 10 AM.
After breakfast, which is at 0730 AM, we pack up our bags and make a move towards Goûter Hut by 0830AM. In case you need to leave any personal belongings behind at Tête Rousse, you can store them in the equipment room in a box and collect them on your way back.
We make it to the Grand Couloir within 45 minutes of starting our day. The initial patch till the couloir is rocky but a gradual climb over the moraine. There is one spot before the couloir and one in the middle of the crossing to take shelter from rock fall in case you experience a shower during your traverse. Listen to any sound of rocks coming down, and start towards the other side carefully. There is a gap after each shower which may be the best time to cross over. This path is narrow and stands over loose rocks, it is important to take extreme caution so as to not slip off or injure yourself.
Once on the other side of the couloir, it is now a completely vertical climb over huge boulders. There are orange blobs painted on the rocks to mark out the route. The 85-degree climb from here demands scrambling. Three-point contact climbing is mandatory. A single misstep would result in a straight drop down onto the glacier on which rests Refuge du Tête Rousse.
The entire 600M climb from here on is a vertical climb over these boulders until we reach an abandoned hut. From the hut, we might need to change into our snow boots and crampons to traverse a glaciated path that leads you straight into Goûter Hut. It is a horizontal path with a drop on each side. A rope is already fixed on this section all the way to the hut for assisted traverse. We should reach our destination for the day in time for lunch. Sunsets from this hut are not to be missed!
The evening and the dining hall are filled with stories of attempts from the previous day! There is an updated weather report and weather forecast put up on the notice board in the dining area of the hut. The weather forecast is updated each day and is extremely accurate. It should be referred to in order to take a fair decision on your summit push and to be aware of what to expect during the climb.
Day 4 Refuge du Goûter (3,835M) to Mont Blanc Summit (4,810M) to Refuge du Goûter (3,835M)
Distance: 6.5 km
Duration: 8-10 hours
Today is going to be a long day. Everyone making their summit attempt from Goûter today huddles up in the dining hall for a 2 AM breakfast. We gear up and leave by 3 somewhere in the middle of a streak of headlights heading up the mountain in the dark. We rope up from the very beginning. A small 20M climb right outside the hut gets us on the ridge we used to get to the hut the previous day. We turn to the right to walk on the same ridge that continues on for a short distance until we make a left to enter a crevasse-ridden snowfield. It is a comfortably steep climb all the way to Dome du Goûter at 4,300M post which the trail goes down for a bit till we get to Col Du Dome at 4,250M. From the Col, the trail slopes quickly up to Vallot Hut (4,362M); it is a steep climb.
Vallot Hut is an abandoned shed with no amenities. It can be used to take shelter for rest or to take sanctuary in bad weather conditions like snow storms and whiteouts. From Vallot Hut we hit two humps – first the Grand Bosse and then the Petite Bosse to head towards the Tournette Ridge which stretches out to the summit of the highest peak of the Alps. The last two hours of the climb are on slender knife ridges with a straight drop on both sides. Heavy winds make the climb on these sections even more precarious. Another challenge to consider on the ridge is the complexity and coordination of movement between climbers going up and climbers coming down since it is a single path with zero space on either side to give way.
It should take us 6-7 hours to get to the top. With the thick blanket of clouds rolling out under you and over all the other peaks in the vicinity, it is quite an exhilarating feeling to stand on the top of this mountain. The mountain really makes it worth your while!
Coming down on these slender ridges is equally challenging. The crevasse field becomes a little easier to traverse, though, in daylight.
Day 5 Refuge du Goûter (3,835M) to Saint Gervais les Bains (580M) via Tête Rousse Refuge (3,167M), Nid d’Aigle (2,362M)
Refuge du Goûter to Nid d’Aigle:
Distance: 4 kms
Duration: 5-6 hours
Nid d’Aigle to Saint Gervais les Bains:
Distance: 12 kms
Duration: 1-1.5 hours
We follow the same path to come down from Goûter all the way to Nid d’Aigle. We can make a quick stop at Tête Rousse in case you had left behind your belongings here on our way up. Coming down the vertical boulder section demands extreme caution. Remember, that we need to cross the Grand Couloir again today and it is best crossed in the early hours of the day, so leave from Goûter accordingly to reduce risk. After the initial boulder sections and the couloir, it is a comfortable trek down to Nid d’Aigle.
We can take a break at the hut if required. The only thing to keep a watch on is to head down to the tram station before it is time for the last tram to take off. We should be in our hotel rooms at Saint Gervais before sundown.
Day 6 Saint Gervais les Bains (580M) to Geneva. Leave from Geneva (375M) by the early evening
Distance: 70 km (bus ride)
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
We take the bus back into the city of Geneva latest by early afternoon depending on the bus timings.
The expedition ends here but not before some much deserved celebration!
Day 7 & 8 Reserve Days
The cost of these days is not included in the overall cost. Following is the additional expense (which includes accommodation and meals) in case we need to use a reserve day. The additional expense per day might vary based on where we use the buffer day (as indicated below)
Reserve Days (per day depending on location)
Nid d’Aigle - 4000 INR
Tête Rousse - 9300 INR
Goûter - 10600 INR
Saint Gervais - 6200 INR
Yes, since Mont Blanc is at the border of France and Italy, you will need to apply for a France Visa to be eligible for this climb and you will need a valid Passport to apply for the Visa. The French Visa process is managed by VFS Global and is fairly straightforward. You do not need any agents to go through the process. VFS takes a fee to mediate and makes it a seamless experience.
For Indian nationals, applications for the visa are accepted no sooner than 6 months before the date of travel. The entire process from application to receiving of Visa might take anywhere between 15 days to 60 days. Start your process accordingly. Rules may differ based on your home country. The information is available online easily.
You will need two kinds of insurance for the trip: 1. Travel Medical Insurance: To cover accidents, injuries, or sickness during your travel and stay in the host country. The cost will depend on the number of days you plan to stay in the host country including travel days. 2. Insurance to cover your climb: To cover the cost of rescue if need be, in addition to medical and health coverage in case of sickness and injury during your time on the mountain. The cost depends on the service you choose, the number of days you are exposed to the risk, and the altitude of the mountain of choice. There are adventure insurance companies based in India but it would make sense to get insured by a company that might have better reach in the region of travel for speedy service.
Mont Blanc’s slender ridge lies to the Western end of the Alps – the region known to house Europe’s finest collection of glaciated mountains. The peak straddles the border of Italy and France (also, stretches into Switzerland) and stands proud and loud in the Graian Alps.
As of 2022 there are no permits issued or required to climb Mont Blanc. However, there is conversation around putting in place such a system to control the number and quality of climbers on the mountain for reasons of safety.
While Mont Blanc has been climbed through 100 different routes, the most popular route is the Aiguilles du Goûter over the Bosses ridges. This route is considered the ‘classic’ or the ‘normal’ route. It is the least technical of all routes.
Firstly, Mont Blanc is the highest peak of the Alps, the highest in Western Europe, and also, one of the Seven Summits which means that it is (according to one of the lists) the highest mountain of Europe - its titles add to the charm of the mountain. Secondly and more importantly, we believe that the Himalayas are GREAT and nothing can beat the magnanimity of the mountains in this incredible range, but exploring a different mountain range has so much to offer in terms of perspective. To indulge in the same sport in a different setting makes the connection with the sport itself stronger because of the learning experience.
It is not overly technical but requires previous experience of high-altitude mountains and a fair knowledge of mountaineering equipment and techniques for a safe climb. It is a strenuous climb and requires the use of technical equipment. Running into bad weather is another big challenge to be considered.
From starting in Switzerland to the tram ride to the European vistas to the mixed terrain of the mountain, the nature of the climb, the people you meet on the way, everything about this climb is worthy of being listed as a highlight.
This is really a matter of your experience. Mont Blanc’s earned a wicked reputation for being one of the deadliest mountains. Estimates put the average death toll on the mountain around 100 each year (according to an article in Outside Magazine). What makes the White Mountain so deadly is not its height or technical climbing but the easy access and a flawed tagline that says ‘it is a mountain one can simply walk upon – it is, in fact, anything but!
Since no camping is allowed on Mont Blanc, accommodation on the days of the trek is to be in the huts built on the mountain. Given that Mont Blanc is a very popular mountain amongst climbers, these huts with limited number of beds get booked very quickly. We only accept bookings till the time there is availability of a bed in the huts on our dates of arrival at each of these huts. In the absence of securing a bed for a climber for the night, climbing the mountain is simply not possible.
Mont Blanc is meant for experienced trekkers only. While it is true that Mont Blanc is not overly technical but to climb it requires extreme levels of physical and mental preparedness, knowledge of mountaineering equipment, and skills of navigating the high-altitude terrain with all its challenges such as rock falls, vertical ascents, crevasses, knife ridges, reading the weather, knowing acclimatization techniques and much more. A climb up Mont Blanc definitely warrants previous experience in mountaineering.
Mont Blanc is a level 7 trek on the Bikat Rating Scale. This makes it mandatory for you to have high-altitude experience of preferably multiple treks marked at level 6 on the BRS. The altitude, the terrain and the nature of the climb demand a certain level of skill and a need for you to be aware of how your body reacts to the various features of high altitude environment.
Jog/Run for 5 Kms in 25-30 mins Or Walk continuously for 10 km (with 3-4 small breaks) on plain terrain (slight incline is better) and
Hold your breath for 40 seconds and
3 sets of Climbing 30 – 40 steps in one stretch and
Push Ups – 10 and
Lunges & Squats – 15 X 2 sets
If you are not meeting these benchmarks, please use the preparation schedule to improve your fitness till you achieve the above benchmarks.
How to use an Ice Axe
How to use Climbing boots & Crampons
How to rope up & follow queued climbing/descending
How to self-arrest using an ice axe
Knowledge of Basic First aid
Mont Blanc is the highest peak of the Alps, highest of Western Europe and according to the Hackett list, highest in all of Europe. It's peculiarly challenging terrain interspersed with a luxurious climbing experience make Mont Blanc a must do for any climbing enthusiast.
The best time to climb Mont Blanc is between June and September.
Click here for text packing list.
The trek starts from Nid d’Aigle which is the first of the three huts on Mont Blanc. We reach Nid’Aigle by taking a bus from Geneva to the commune of Saint Gervais les Bains and then a tram from Saint Gervais les Bains to Nid d’Aigle.
Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland. A global city and a financial hub, it is home to the headquarters of United Nations. Geneva is not short on things to see and do. Close to Saint Gervais les Bains is the popular commune of Chamonix which is the hub of adventure sports in the Alps and is most famous amongst skiers. Year round cable cars take visitors to the most popular slopes in the Alps.
The minimum age limit is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 should be accompanied by their parents/ guardians. If you are above the age of 60, kindly carry a medical certificate from your doctor that deem you fit for adventure activities like trekking.
Camping on Mont Blanc is not allowed. Accommodation will be in mountain huts with dormitory style beds. Clean blankets and sheets are provided by the huts and they are enough to keep you warm at night. However, it is recommended you carry a thin liner for hygiene purposes.
While the common safety gear like static rope, pulleys and carabiners will be carried by the expedition guide, a rental kit for the personal climbing gear will be provided to you at Saint Gervais.
Like any high-altitude climb, use the layering method here as well. Since you will be starting for the summit much before sunrise, it will be extremely cold. Even when the sun is high up in the sky, the winds high up on the mountain are extremely notorious. The last two hours to the summit is on knife ridges with no other mountain faces to block the wind. The upper reaches are also prone to unannounced snow storms and chilly white outs. You need all your best clothing to protect you from the elements here. Under no circumstances can you afford to forget your down and your gore-tex.
Like any other high-altitude mountain, weather is unpredictable here as well; in fact, Mont Blanc is famous for fast-changing weather. Fortunately, each hut on the route puts up an updated weather forecast report each day which is extremely accurate and should be taken into account in order to plan any movement on the mountain.
Yes, a rental kit for technical climbing equipment will be provided to you in Saint Gervais. The rental kit includes: 1. Mountaineering boots 2. Crampons 3. Ice axe 4. Helmet 5. Harness 6. Gaiters 7. Trekking poles (if required)
A copy of your Passport and Visa, ID Proof and Medical Certificate are the mandatory documents required for this trek. (Soft copies for all of these are to be sent to us & originals should be on your person while on the trek.)
Our community is an integral part of us and we take pride in our trekkers and climbers. When you complete at least three days on any trek or expedition with us, you become eligible for our membership and referral programs.
For us, a successful summit is not about reaching the highest point of a mountain but about making it safely back to base.
Cancellations up to 30 days prior to departure date
Between 30 days to 15 days prior to departure
Less than 15 days of departure
No Cash Refund
Cancellations up to 5 days prior to departure date
Cancellations less than 5 days prior to departure
Sarthak Madan 22 November 2018
<h1><strong>Ascending and Descending on Trails</strong></h1> <p> </p> <p>It is critical to understand the concepts of ascending and descending on varied terrain. This lowers the risks of falls, stumbles, strain, and sprains along with conserviRead More