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Mt. Blanc Q's

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Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby EatinHardtack » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:49 pm

So I am looking at doing Mt. Blanc this summer (August timeframe). This would be my first trip over seas for a climb. I would be hooking up with another 14ers member who lives over there now, so not a solo adventure on my part. Does anybody have guide suggestions? Route suggestions? Is August a good time to climb? What should we expect in terms of weather? Anything to add?

I have started looking online at some information but I wanted to get some first hand knowledge from people on this site who have climbed it. Thanks.
"In our youths our hearts were touched with fire" - Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby Koy » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:44 pm

We climbed the 3 Monts route in Early September last year and the timing/conditions worked out well (although it did take us 2 attempts). August is when all the Euros travel so expect the mountain to be pretty crowded when you go. The easiest route is the Gouter, with the 3 Monts route a small step up in difficulty. However if you're going guided, then it really doesn't matter. I would highly recommend the 3 monts route. Dinner at the Cosmiques Hut was always fantastic. Have fun...... Chamonix is an incredible place. My buddy (jjust) posted a trip report on this site if you want to check it out:

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=11160&parmuser=jjust&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby Alby426 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:42 am

I agree with the last post, 3 monts. We are planning to go this Summer also. The Gouter route is considered the easyest but, it has a long tedious approach. You are going to love Cham, and August is a very good time to climb although, it will be crowded. Make sure to make hut reservations as soon as possible. It is also very easy and economic to rent the equipment in place.
I have spent a lot of time there and feel free to contact me if you have more questions.
By the way, I made the summit in 1991 ( boy I feel old now) via the Grands Mulets in August. That was a fantastic route too but, now it's not recommended at all due to the changes in glacier conditions.

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby Alby426 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:43 am

I agree with the last post, 3 monts. We are planning to go this Summer also. The Gouter route is considered the easyest but, it has a long tedious approach. You are going to love Cham, and August is a very good time to climb although, it will be crowded. Make sure to make hut reservations as soon as possible. It is also very easy and economic to rent the equipment in place.
I have spent a lot of time there and feel free to contact me if you have more questions.
By the way, I made the summit in 1991 ( boy I feel old now) via the Grands Mulets in August. That was a fantastic route too but, now it's not recommended at all due to the changes in glacier conditions.

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby Carl » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:36 am

EatinHardtack wrote:What should we expect in terms of weather?


I'd pack similar to a summer Rainier trip. Lightweight hooded fleece, hooded midweight down jacket, warm gloves or mittens, balaclava, etc. We had a good bit of snow on one August attempt and clear weather on the second, but with a strong wind both days were pretty cold. If you climbed Rainier unguided, you might consider Mont Blanc unguided, depending on the route.

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby madbuck » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:12 am

One small piece of advice that may or may not be useful, if you haven't encountered it already:
The last weekend of August is the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, which is a huge trail run on the hiking loop. People start showing up the week before.
That would obviously have an impact on the surrounding area and lodging availability.

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby EatinHardtack » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:24 pm

We are looking at flying into Geneva around the 10-12ish of August then making our way over there. I read your tr Carl, and the route looks fantastic. While I would feel confident in my abilities my partner on the other hand wouldn't mind a guide. Heck the 3 Monts route looks doable in two days and we could make it to the hut without problems (weather dependent) w/o a guide. We may only need a guide for the summit day honestly. I got a feeling that probably won't happen as guides want to get paid more.

What could we expect for the Gouter route as far as steepness, crevasses, etc? Also what kind of protection did everyone take? Basic glacier protection? I am assuming at least a 30m rope, ice screws, pickets, handful of slings, benners, wands? This would be all dependent on a non-guided climb of course.
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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby Marcos » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:56 pm

For 3 monts, get a reservation at the Cosmiques Hut as soon as reasonably possible. Also, when I was there last August the Aiguille de Midi tram appears to accept (or require) reservations. The lines were like something out of Disneyland. Very disheartening compared to the late 90s when you could hop off the train and onto the lift.

To me Chamonix is a tourist nightmare of the worst kind. Luckily, with a little planning you can zip through town and be at the hut before the tourist tat hits you too hard. If you need to spend time in the area, I recommend heading to Argentière just up the valley -- friendlier, cheaper, and less crowded. There's also excellent access from the top of the Grand Montets tram to the Petite Aiguille Verte. Rated PD- (~US class 3/4), it's a good spot to warm up and practice rope work. Here's a photo from last August -- it's the peak in the foreground:
Petite Aiguille Verte.jpg
Petite Aiguille Verte.jpg (83.53 KiB) Viewed 596 times

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby Carl » Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:09 pm

EatinHardtack wrote:We are looking at flying into Geneva around the 10-12ish of August then making our way over there. I read your tr Carl, and the route looks fantastic. While I would feel confident in my abilities my partner on the other hand wouldn't mind a guide. Heck the 3 Monts route looks doable in two days and we could make it to the hut without problems (weather dependent) w/o a guide. We may only need a guide for the summit day honestly. I got a feeling that probably won't happen as guides want to get paid more.


Two days is definitely doable. We started the first day on the beach in Cannes, drove to Torino for lunch, and then grabbed a quick dinner in Chaminox before getting on one of the last trams (had it to ourselves) around 6pm and heading to the Cosmiques hut. Day two we were on the glacier around 1:30am, back in Chaminox early afternoon, and in Geneva for dinner. The tram starts running at 6am, so you could actually do it in a day, but you would need to hustle and not have any hiccups. Slowing things down a bit is certainly nice if your itinerary allows.

I can't speak to the Gouter route, other than to say the route seemed pretty crowded from the summit.

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby Gabriel » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:27 pm

I have been up Mont Blanc twice solo. Once on the Goutier route and once on the standard route on the Italian side. Since you'll be in Chamonix I'll address the French side. I climbed the first week of August and stayed in the Tete Rouse hut rather than the higher and more crowded Goutier Hut. I did not have reservations. You can also set up a tent or use a bevy sac as long as you take it down during the day. The route itself is similar in difficulty to the DC on Rainier, but with much less potential for crevasse fall. There is not any climbing on this route, just hiking in crampons like on the DC, but since it's on a ridge the views are fantastic.

Have fun,

G

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby pvnisher » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:42 pm

A friend and I are doing Mont Blanc from 11-13 August. It's his first time on a glacier so we're doing Gouter route. Staying at Tete Rousse.
The Gouter hut has been notoriously foul, but is actually being rebuilt as we speak. They also now require a deposit for reservations.

Anyone been up to the Torino hut? We were planning on staying there for 2 nights before the Blanc climb for some acclimatization (it's 11,000 ft). Decent place to stay and some ok easy glaciers to teach on?

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Re: Mt. Blanc Q's

Postby zempto » Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:47 pm

pvnisher wrote:Anyone been up to the Torino hut?


I've stayed at a dozen or so different huts around the MB area and the Torino is by far and away my least favorite. Great location, fantastic views, super easy to get to.... but, noisy, dirty, crowded and expensive. However, there is lots of easy terrain close to the hut and several fairly easy classic climbs that are worth doing if you go there.

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