Our 2018 Mont Blanc team recently returned from the French Alps after having a great time climbing Western Europe’s highest peak! Our climbers met in the historic mountain village of Chamonix, France, and from there ventured into the high country, spending two nights at the Albert Premier hut to acclimatize and train in mountaineering technique. We climbed the Tête Blanche, a glaciated peak with an exposed rock scramble at the summit. After 3 days up high in the alpine zone, we descended back to Chamonix. Everyone enjoyed a restful evening and great dinner in town.
The following morning we had a leisurely start and then took the famous Aiguille du Midi tram up to the top station, and enjoyed a traditional French lunch overlooking the Alps. Donning our technical climbing gear, we roped up for the descent out of the ‘ice tunnel’ from the station. Slowly we climbed down the very exposed snow arête. The slopes drop away on either side, down to the glacier below. From here we traversed the glacier to the Cosmiques refuge, a climbers hut perched on the edge the cliff overlooking Mont Blanc, and the Chamonix valley far below. After we discussed our plan for the summit attempt and enjoyed a nice dinner, we hit the sack in preparation for an early alpine start!
We awoke just after midnight, had a quick breakfast in the hut then turned on our headlamps and went outside to put on our crampons & rope up. We began the climb climbing the first of the 3 peaks in the ‘tois mont’ or ‘triple summit’ route, Mont Blanc du Tacul. After switchbacking up the glaciated terrain we encountered a large crevasse with a ladder in place to cross. After this section we soon passed by Mont Blanc du Tacul and ventured towards Mont Maudit, a more challenging and higher consequence part of the climb. Climbing up Mont Maudit involved crossing some crevasses on narrow snow bridges and also using our crampons on hard ice as we ascended over the peak on onward towards the final summit, Mont Blanc.
We climbed the final snow slopes to the top of Western Europe’s highest peak and reached the summit at 9 AM! The views were phenomenal and we snapped many summit photos while savoring our success. We then began the descent back down from Mont Blanc, over Mont Maudit, and Mont Blanc du Tacul back to the Cosmiques refuge for dinner. As we sipped celebratory beverages after dinner we recounted our climb of Mont Blanc and our good fortune in climbing other summits and having great weather throughout. Thanks to all of our climbers for participating in a fantastic week in the French Alps, and especially to guides Victor Saunders and Kris Erickson who helped make this a great program.
At 15,773’, Mont Blanc is one of the most iconic mountains in the world, as well as a highly coveted summit being the highest peak in Western Europe and the birthplace of mountaineering. Mont Blanc is equally beautiful and challenging, and we are very excited to offer this climb in a style that fits with our other programs. Victor Saunders and Kris Erikson lead this program for Madison Mountaineering.
Climbing in the European Alps is unique in that tram access from Chamonix valley to the glaciated climbing terrain of the Mont Blanc massif allows one to acclimate very quickly. With lavish mountain huts situated throughout the Mont Blanc massif, we travel light knowing that our meals and a comfortable bed await! We can easily review climbing techniques such as self arrest, rope travel, cramponing, then make our summit attempt when the weather window is optimal.
For climbers continuing with us to climb the Matterhorn, we journey a few hours from Chamonix to Zermatt, perhaps an equally beautiful setting located in Swiss Alps. The Matterhorn, although slightly less in elevation than Mont Blanc, is technically more challenging because of the steep rock ridge lines we ascend on our way to the summit.
We regularly organize custom programs for private groups. We are happy to accommodate your program dates, as well as other specific requests related to the itinerary, amenities, and group size.
Day 1: Depart country of residence.
Day 2: Arrive in Geneva, Switzerland, then travel by private car to the village of Chamonix in the afternoon. We then meet for an orientation and welcome dinner.
Day 3: After breakfast we conduct a gear check then leave the hotel and take the tram to access the high country. We hike to about 9,000’ where we reach our mountain hut. Here we practice self arrest, rope travel, and crampon technique.
Day 4: After a leisurely morning we pack our gear and depart the hut for a day of glacier climbing. We attempt to summit at least one peak today, then descend back to the hut for a well deserved meal.
Day 5: We make another summit attempt on a nearby peak, furthering our exploration of the massif, and then return to the hut, then descend the mountain before heading back into town.
Day 6: After a leisurely morning in Chamonix we review our climbing strategy for Mont Blanc. Then we take the tram and from the top station we hike a few hours to reach the Tete Rousse hut.
Day 7: We climb from the Tete Rousse hut to the Gouter Hut. This climb involves scrambling up a rocky ridge with spectacular views.
Day 8: Summit day! We awake early and climb glaciated slopes until reaching the summit, and gaze at the surrounding peaks in France, Italy, and Switzerland. We descend back down to the tram station and take the cog train back to Chamonix for a much needed shower and meal at one of the many fine restaurants.
Day 9: We drive to Geneva and depart for home. If climbers are continuing to the Matterhorn we travel by train today to Zermatt and check into our hotel.
Day 10: After a leisurely morning we head up to Schwartze and check into our hotel for the evening. We discuss our climbing strategy and have an early dinner to prepare for our alpine start!
Day 11: We depart before dawn and hike to the start of the route, then ascend steep rocky slopes until we gain the summit ridge where we don crampons. The summit is spectacular, and we gaze into Italy on the other side, with a panorama of the alps before us. We descend to the Schwartze hut and spend the night.
Day 12: Extra day in case of bad weather.
Day 13: We descend from Schwartze to Zermatt and have a celebration dinner and recount the summit climb the day before.
Day 14: Depart Zermatt for Geneva, then fly home that afternoon.
Mont Blanc: $6,150
Mont Blanc and Matterhorn: $11,350
• All tram, lift and hotel fees.
• All group climbing gear such as ropes, snow pickets, ice screws, etc.
• All fees for four nights at French and Swiss Huts
• Three nights of lodging in Chamonix hotel.
• Welcome dinner.
• Breakfast and Dinner in the huts
• All transportation once trip has started
• Six Trams/lifts, and train fees
• Park fees, trekking permits and all tour fees
• IFMGA certified mountain guide fees
Costs do not include:
• $25 Wire Transfer Fee (If Applicable)
• Meals not listed above (Meals in Chamonix)
• Lunches during the climb
• International airfare USA – Geneva – USA
• Shuttle from Geneva to Chamonix
• Personal gear (see gear list)
• All personal snack/lunch food
• Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks (bottled water)
• Any extra nights lodging in Chamonix beyond itinerary
• All expenses incurred in the event of early departure (evacuation fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc.)
• Excess baggage charges and airport taxes.
• Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Madison Mountaineering
• Ice Axe: A general mountaineering ice axe no longer than 65 cm.
• Crampons: General mountaineering crampons
• Trekking Poles: Adjustable poles
• Climbing harness: An alpine climbing harness
• Carabineers: 2 locking and 2 non locking
• Belay / Rappel device: For rappelling or belaying climbers
• Helmet: Must fit over a thick hat
• Mountaineering Boots: Either double plastic or insulated synthetic boots.
• Socks: 3 pair thick mountaineering socks and 3 pair liner socks
• Short Underwear: 1-2 pair of synthetic short underwear
• Long Underwear: 1-2 pair lightweight long underwear pants and shirts. 1 pair of heavy expedition weight long underwear.
• Soft Shell Jacket: A hooded jacket is best.
• Soft Shell pants: With side accessory pockets.
• Insulated Jacket: PrimaLoft or Down with hood.
• Hard Shell Jacket: To be worn in windy or wet conditions.
• Hard Shell Pants: To be worn in wet conditions, these pants should have full side zippers.
• Warm Hat: A warm fleece or wool hat.
• Balaclava: to cover your face and neck on windy days.
• Sun hat: A baseball style sun cap.
• Buff: To wear around your neck & face to block the wind, UV rays, dust.
• Glacier Glasses: wrap around style sunglasses with dark lenses
• Goggles: With dark lenses.
• Soft Shell Gloves: 1 pair
• Shell gloves with insulated liner: 1 pair
• Expedition Backpack: A 40-55 liter internal frame back pack.
• Headlamp: Bring a spare set of batteries
• Sunscreen: SPF 50 or stronger
• Lip screen: SPF 30 or stronger
• Water bottles: 2 bottles with 1 liter capacity each
• Knife: Optional
• Toiletry Bag: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, baby wipes, etc.
• Camera: lightweight with extra batteries
• Travel Clothes: For days in Chamonix or Zermatt.
• Small duffel bag: to store items in the hotel
• Small Personal First Aid Kit: Athletic tape, band aids, Ibuprofen, Moleskin, blister care products, personal medications, cough drops.