Intending to climb Mt Blancgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Mountaineering : One Thread
Myself and a colleague are intending to book a week long trip to climb Mt Blanc. My colleague has experience of climbing Mt Blanc in 1999 but failed to reach the summit due to adverse weather conditions. I consider myself a very fit 21 year old and have no problem completing physically demanding tasks.
1) Can you give us advice on what time of year is best to climb Mt Blanc 2) Would any specialist gear be needed? 3)Is hiring a guide easy once in Chamonix or do they have to be pre booked? 4)How long does it take, and which mode of transport is the best to get from Geneva?
-- Christopher Woods (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 08, 2003
1) The best time is from June up to September. However, in the last few years July and August have been too hot and dry to negotiate safely the lower slopes of the mountain (exp. the access to the Gouter Hut, if you intend to climb the mountain that way). So, June or September could be the best choice.
2) Crampons and a long or medium shaft piolet, that can be easily rented in Chamonix, Courmayeur or St. Gervais. However, the critical piece of equipment are clothes - don't ever consider climbing Mt. Blanc without some high altitude clothing, like a good duvet. Again, it all depends on the weather - the day I did it, on the top it was almost warm, but most of the Mt. Blanc casualties are victim of bad weather, inadequate clothing and bad acclimatization.
You'll need a rope too, but if you rent a guide he'll provide it.
3) UIAGM guides (the only safe choice, IMHO) can be hired on the spot, and usually there's no trouble finding one. However, remember that if you choose one of the French routes, you'll have to book your place in the hut - it's mandatory. And even if you want to do the Italian "normal" route, it's preferable to book your place at the Gonella hut.
If you hire a guide - and I think you should hire one, if you're not familiar with the area, remember to ALWAYS trust his judgement on weather and climb condition.
4) It wall depends from the route. The most common - the one from the Gouter Hut, takes soemthing like 5 hours in good conditions )I mean, five hours from the Gouter). The Grand Mulets route (a bit more tedious and unsafe, but the faster way to lose altitude when returning) takes 8 hours from the Grand Mulet hut (that's considerably lower than Gouter). The Midi route (from the top of the Aig. Du Midi cableway) is the longest, and takes usually nine hours to the top. Is the most panoramic, but is more technical and physically demaning. My favourite is the Italian normal - from the Gonella Hut. 8 hours. It's of modest technical difficulty, but the Dome glacier can be quite complicate to traverse (again, it depends from the year/season/condition etc.)
From Geneva you can reach Chamonix via bus or train. If you've the money, I suggest you hire a car - it can be useful for instance to move quickly to San Gervais or Courmayeur, depending on the mountain condition and the route you decide to climb.
Personally (I've been a resident of Courmayeur for 13 years, and I still spend my summers there), I'll always think that, if you have some climbing ability and decent physical shape, one of the Italian routes will be immensely more satisfing that the French routes. But that's definitely a personal opinion.
If you need some more information, don't esitate to write me
-- Luca Signorelli (email@example.com), October 10, 2003.