Mont Blanc 'Summits' week 2019
Ascents via Gouter Route / Trois Mont Blanc Traverse / Gonella
Course overview
Summit: Mont Blanc 4810m is the highest summit in Western Europe. To get to the 'roof of Europe', we normally ascend by either the 'Traverse' route of the Trois Mont Blanc from the Midi, the Gonella route from the Italian Val Veny, or via the classic Gouter route.
USP: Our primary focus is on getting you to the summit, no faffing, no discussion, no fuss. If you train hard, are focused, and the weather plays ball, we'll get you up there. If you want us to wave a magic wand, and not put in the training before, this really isn't the mountain for you. We are doers, not dreamers.
Skills: For the Mont Blanc ascent you need excellent fitness, stamina and determination. You do not necessarily need any previous crampon or altitude experience, though it would be a real bonus. Any skills you have will help, as well as great balance combined with the ability to move quickly and efficiently over broken mountain terrain is essential. You should be confident on steep ridges, but don't worry as you are taught all the necessary ropework and skills during the week.
Effort: Due to the altitude and the length of the climb, we never declare the ascent to be easy. It is an unforgettable experience to reach the summit, and you will test the skills you have learnt along the way.
Acclimatisation: This course is focused on you summitting Mont Blanc, with other summits and nights spent at altitude to increase acclimatisation. There is a dedicated information page for Mont Blanc: summit focus, which details the experience and fitness required for the climb.
Instruction: A principal feature of this course are the evening theory sessions (optional attendance), where you can opt to be taught a wide range of extra skills including; from knots and ropework, crevasse rescue hoist systems, or route planning. Click for details. This helps maximise your climbing time during the days.
Dates: these are listed in the column on the right, and they show the live availability from our secure online booking system. When you book online, you receive immediate confirmation, your Alpine Information Booklet, course specific kit list and invoice.
Sunrise on the Bosses Arete of the Gouter route on Mont Blanc
Photo: Climbers ascending the Bosses Arete towards the summit at dawn, having ascended via the Gouter.
Our ethics for Mont Blanc ascents
Ethics: We only offer honest and ethical ascents of Mont Blanc. Read our blog post about it (click here). Here are our key ethical standards for these ascents, which incredibly many operators ignore...
Season: Ascents only offered when cable cars / trains are operating, to avoid huge approach walks. The dates for the Tramway Mont Blanc are mid June - mid September (link). This limits the duration of our season, but it maximises your summit chances, and is the ethical way of operating.
Huts: On the normal route there are two huts you could stay in, the Tete Rousse 3167m or Gouter 3835m. To reach the Tete Rousse takes approximately 2 hours from the Nid d’Aigle, and the Gouter is a further 2 hour climb above. All our Mont Blanc courses usually have spaces booked in the Gouter hut, to make the summit day shorter, and therefore easier. Occasionally we also use the Cosmiques 3613m, Tete Rousse 3187m or Gonella 3071m, dependent on conditions, weather and skills.
Principles: By sticking with our principles, we are making the summit a more realistic goal for you, and we are focusing on safety. We believe that for those of you who really do their research, you will be more attracted to a company who wants you to succeed more than the others. It isn’t therefore a case of how often we operate this trip, but when and how we operate it.
Chris & Joe on the summit of Mont Blanc
Photo: Chris & Joe on the summit of Mont Blanc 4810m, ascent via Traverse, descent via Gouter.
Why you should climb with Icicle
Experience: Icicle has been offering guided ascents on Mont Blanc for nearly two decades now, and so we have excellent local contacts and detailed knowledge of conditions to optimise your summitting chances, not to mention being highly aware of risks to keep you safe too.
Contacts: It is through these local connections that we can sometimes be very flexible with our itinerary to enable you to attempt Mont Blanc on almost any day of your course, as we can often arrange spaces in mountain huts or on cable cars at very short notice, even in the key summer season.
Permits: From mid last summer, a new permit system was introduced on Mont Blanc, where proof of hut bookings was required and checked by Gendarmierie on the mountain. This changed nothing for our groups, as hut spaces are guaranteed. It does help enforce a 1:2 guiding ratio (1:1 on Traverse) for safety.
Flexibility: After the first training day at a 1:6 guiding ratio, you have four days guiding at a 1:2 ratio. These four days are more than any other operator provides, and are essential to give you flexibility for making a summit attempt on the first weather window.
Alpine start for the ascent of Mont Blanc from the Gouter hut
Photo: Headtorches of teams illuminating the route from the Col du Dome to Vallot shelter and the summit ridge.
How can I improve my chances on Mont Blanc?
Reality: Mont Blanc isn't an ideal first Alpine 4000m peak, but on the other hand it is not technically difficult. You require excellent fitness and stamina, as well as great balance combined with the ability to move quickly and efficiently over broken mountain terrain. If you're unsure about what to expect, the Chamonix authorities have produced a very blunt leaflet about climbing Mont Blanc, and what to expect; link.
Experience: Whilst no experience is required for Mont Blanc, every single bit you do have or get before the course will stack the odds in your favour. Experience helps increase flexibility in terms of weather windows, routes, speed, and safety. Higher levels of experience will help raise summiting chances.
Weather: We can't book the weather, but we do guarantee to do our best to maximise your summit chances by tailoring the course to you, the individual. There's no reliable way of predicting weather on a particular week, but we only offer ascents in the key season where the weather is typically stable anti-cyclonic pattern, not pushing into the early or late season where weather can be more unsettled with fresh snowfalls.
Fitness: An ascent of Mont Blanc should not be underestimated, and you should arrive for this course in good physical condition as the climb will probably be the greatest physical exertion of your life. Please don't ignore this issue. You should be at least half marathon fitness, in a respectable time. It's even better if you are marathon fit! We highly recommend that you read our training page (click here) for details.
Acclimatisation: It's naive to say that 'X' days is 'ideal' for Mont Blanc ascents, as every exra day you spend at altitude will improve your acclimatisation. It can be as simple as reading a book at the Aiguille du Midi, sleeping in a rented hyperbaric chamber at home, or in tens of other ways. We recommend that you book on an Acclimatisation Weekend to extend your trip. By acclimatising earlier you provide more summit flexibility.
Jo & Jonathan on the summit of Mont Blanc 4810m, having climbed via the Gouter Route.
Photo: Jo & Jonathan on the summit of Mont Blanc 4810m, having climbed via the Gouter Route.
Brief Course Itinerary


Please note that whilst the itinerary below is an ideal, the weather and conditions, as well as your skills, fitness, experience and acclimatisation all play a part too. In our decade of experience, we have found that hardly two weeks ever run the same, and even on a particular week sometimes different summit groups go on different days from different huts. Whilst the itinerary notes outline this, it is imperitive that you understand how flexible this course must be. You are dealing with the high mountains and extreme altitude, not a prescribed coach tour!
Sunday
Travel to Chamonix to arrive for the 17:00 check-in followed by and course safety and itinerary briefings. There is time for kit checks or rental of equipment. Briefings are over by 19:00 and the team accompany the group to pre-dinner drinks. Many clients opt to travel out a day or two early to do an acclimatisation weekend course to provide an extra night of accommodation, and to ascend a 3000m peak. Night in Chamonix.
Monday
Day to learn and practice using crampons and ice axes on the Mer de Glace glacier (2000m). You also climb vertical ice, create ice anchors, and learn glacier travel skills. This is one of your most important days of the course in terms of skills development as it is essential to have good footwork on Mont Blanc. Guiding ratio 1:6 (max). Evening theory session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix.
Tuesday
Acclimatisation route to a summit. Continue to a mountain hut for the night or return to Chamonix. The aim is to develop your skills at altitude. The choice of the 1 or 2 day routes is made in reaction to which day you attempt Mont Blanc, as we can alter the itinerary to maximise your chances. Guiding ratio 1:2 (max). Evening theory session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix or hut.
Wednesday
Acclimatisation route to a summit. Either an Alpine start from the mountain hut or a second acclimatisation route. Typical routes for the last two days include Cosmiques Arete, Gran Paradiso, Petite Verte, Pointe Lachenal or Aiguille du Tour. Return to Chamonix to prepare for Mont Blanc. Guiding ratio 1:2 (max). Evening theory session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix.
Thursday
Equipment and bag checks before you set off to climb up to one of the high huts, either the Cosmiques / Gonella / Gouter / Tête Rousse hut for the night. Guiding ratio 1:2 (max). The choice of route that you take on Mont Blanc, and which hut(s) you stay in is a function of the weather, conditions, and your skills and fitness. Often different teams suit different plans to maximise their summit chances. Night in hut on Mont Blanc.
Friday
Summit Mont Blanc 4810m from an Alpine start from the high hut, and descend to Chamonix. It is usual to reach the summit just after sunrise, to take advantage of the best snow conditions, and to minimise the risks of stonefall or late afternoon storms. Reach valley afternoon, celebrations in the evening. Guiding ratio 1:2 (max). In the evening there are optional drinks and a celebratory meal. Final night in Chamonix.
Saturday
Breakfast then the accommodation check out is by 10:00. Most arrange their transfers for around this time for a flight from Geneva about midday. Some people opt to book a tandem paraglider flight in the morning to celebrate the weeks efforts, and prices for this are from 100€ for a c.30 minute flight. These flights can be booked in resort up to the day before you wish to fly. Depart for home.
ITINERARY NOTES: Where possible we follow itineraries. Mountain adventures are weather and conditions dependant, so occasionaly we are forced to alter the plans. If this is the case, suitable alternatives are offered. Please use this itinerary as a guide to the types of route / activity you attempt.
Stay in the new Gouter hut, the highest on the mountain
Photo: Climbers arriving at the Gouter mountain hut, which is the most popular route choice for our teams.
Meet our team to answer your queries
Before your ascent of Mont Blanc, you'll doubtless have loads of queries that pop into your head. Many people find that to speak to someone face to face is far easier and more informative that hundreds of e-mails, so we offer two options; 1) Book in a meeting with a course advisor in our Windermere office, or 2) Attend an open evening.
FREE Alpine summits open evening
This is an event extra to the UK Alpine Training weekend course. It is FREE and open to those booked on our Mont Blanc / Eiger / Matterhorn trips. The event runs 18:00 to 19:30 at our Windermere shop, to show films of the routes, and discuss kit and training. You don't need to be attending the weekend course to join the open evening (more details). E-mail us to reserve space(s) and confirm availability. Dates are the Saturdays of the weekend dates on the right.
Weekend dates
Course spaces and dates for the UK Alpine Training Weekend (link)...


Course Dates
Alpine training weekend
  • [ 3 ] 19 - 20 Jan 2019
  • [ 4 ] 4 - 5 May 2019
  • [5+] 1 - 2 Jun 2019
It's yet another thing that really sets us apart from web-based companies. Meet the real people in a real office, who you speak to on the phone, who answer your queries, and who are there to help manage logistics both before and during your trip. Ours is an infrastructure that is tangibly there to support you from start to finish.
From the Gouter hut, you maximise summit success, as it's the shortest climb to the top of Mont Blanc
Photo: Interior of the new Gouter mountain hut, showing the sleeping pods, and beds with pillows and duvets.
Course Prices 2018

Standard course 5 days guiding, 7 days holiday in total £1499
Live availability
Click on the planner logo to the right to
see the real time live course availability
Latest Availability
Secure online booking system
Standard Course Inclusions: 1) IFMGA Mountain Guide for five days, 2) Chamonix course hosts for logistics & briefings, 3) Evening technical instruction / briefing sessions, 4) Twin / double room B&B accommodation in Chamonix (inc. linen, bedding & towels) for the whole week, so you don't move out when in huts, 5) One night half board in mountain hut / base camp on Mont Blanc for you and guide, 6) Pre course information booklet, 7) Equipment discount voucher for our UK shop, 8) Free 36 page technical Course Instruction Booklet, 9) Road transport in Chamonix valley, 10) Icicle discounts privilege QR code list for reductions in local shops and restaurants in Chamonix.
Exclusions: 1) Travel to and from Chamonix, 2) Equipment hire, 3) Cable cars & uplift (c. 80 euros depending on itinerary), 4) Optional second or more nights (not normally required) in a mountain hut / base camp on a half board basis for you and guide, 5) Personal laundry, telephone calls, lunches, evening meals in valley, & any purchases in mountain huts / hotels / restaurants, 6) Road transport outside Chamonix valley (not usually required), 7) Sunday pre-dinner drinks & Friday celebratory meal & drinks, 8) Activities insurance, & excess baggage charges.
Notes: This course assumes 1:2 guiding from Tuesday to Friday, after a shared glacier day of up to 1:6 ratio on the Monday. Note that in the exceptionally rare occasion where is there is just one person booked on a course, less 1:1 guiding days can be offered, however accommodation will be provided for the whole week, and guiding options and locations will be discussed with you within the budget paid.
Course upgrade options
Many clients on this trip consider upgrading with one or more of the following course additions...
 
Private
room
Big 3 Alpine
extensions
Half
board
Acclimatise
weekend
  Upgrade to single from
£300-£500 in addition to
standard course price,
depending on week.
Mont Blanc two day;
1:1 £1199, 1:2 £599pp
(booking together). Eiger
or Matterhorn 1:1 £1299.
Upgrade from B&B to
have 3 course evening
meals in Chamonix for
5 nights for £99pp.
Saturday night spent in
Chamonix, with choice
of self-guided or guided
on Sunday. From £50.
  Click for details Click for details Click for details Click for details
 
Standard course accommodation - normally clients are based in self-catered flats (details), so take a look, and decide if it's for you. For more luxury, contact us for quotes in higher standard apartments, or hotels of any standard required. If you have / source your own course accommodation, or we cannot provide an upgrade, the standard course price has a £100pp reduction applied on your invoice.
Current course availability

Course Dates
Mont Blanc
  • [ 1 ] 16 - 22 Jun 2019
  • [ 2 ] 23 - 29 Jun 2019
  • [ 0 ] 30 Jun - 6 Jul 2019
  • [ 4 ] 7 - 13 Jul 2019
  • [ 4 ] 14 - 20 Jul 2019
  • [ 4 ] 21 - 27 Jul 2019
  • [ 2 ] 28 Jul - 3 Aug 2019
  • [5+] 4 - 10 Aug 2019
  • [ 2 ] 11 - 17 Aug 2019
  • [ 4 ] 18 - 24 Aug 2019
  • [ 4 ] 25 - 31 Aug 2019
  • [ 4 ] 1 - 7 Sep 2019
  • [ 4 ] 8 - 14 Sep 2019
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Scheduled courses
Price: £1499
Book online


Bespoke course? If your ideal date is showing as full on the list above, get in contact, as we also offer private 1:2 and 1:1 trips on any date during the season. The 1:1 price is £2499, and the 1:2 price is £1649pp. To book a bespoke 1:1 or 1:2 Mont Blanc trip, book one place on the 1:1 course (click for link) and we will adapt the invoice.

Preparatory trips
Alpine Prep Weekend

Alpine Intro 4000m

Alternatives
Mont Blanc 2 week
Alpine Big 3 Trilogy

Mount Elbrus

Next trips
Matterhorn ascent
Alpine Autonomy
Client feedback


An action filled week, and a perfect ending reaching the summit of Mont Blanc on a clear day. From the top we could see hundreds of miles

Alan N , Mont Blanc Summit

Climbing Mont Blanc was harder than I thought, but so rewarding too

Sally P , Mont Blanc Summit

100% summit, 100% happy, 100% thanks! A once in a lifetime holiday. I can't explain how much your support and knowledge meant to me. It gave me a total sense of confidence and trust, which was essential during the final steps

Steve R , Mont Blanc Summit
Testimonials
Press & media
Films & videos
Photo gallery
Mont Blanc links
Essential Mont Blanc page links...
Blog post: Ethical Mont Blanc
Top 10 tips for climbing Mt Blanc
Location data for this trip
The trips are based in the Chamonix valley in the French Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc. It is easily accessed via a 90 minute transfer from Geneva airport.
Time Difference
GMT +1hr
Local Currency
€ Euros
Travel from UK
1hr flight
Films from the summit
Helicopter to the hut?
NEW for 2019! Helicopter drops are not allowed in France, but if you wish to avoid ascending the Gouter couloir, or to save energy, you can now arrange to fly in and out of the Gonella hut on the Italian route. This costs 300€ per flight (not included in the course price), and it can carry up to 5 people and a pilot.



Is it cheating? No more than taking the cable car and tramway on the Gouter route, or the cable car to Aiguille du Midi. Start at Nice beach at a low tide if your ethics are really that stringent.
Free resources


FREE Podcast
Training for Mont Blanc
A no holes barred podcast, to fully explain what an ascent entails physically and technically, including several examples of hill training.
Download podcast (3.48 MB)
See all the Icicle podcasts
Equipment - summit day kit list...
We send a course specific equipment list to all those booking on our courses, but due to the popularity of this course, we outline a typical packing list for the Mont Blanc summit day in the list below.
Basic clothing
- Light coloured long sleeve wicking layer
- Schoeller / soft shell climbing trousers
- Mid layer fleece jacket / gillet
- Fleece hat and gloves, and sunhat / cap
- B3 leather / plastic boots, and gaiters
Equipment
- Harness, helmet, ice axe (without leash)
- 12 point crampons andanti-balling plates
- 1 x 120cm Sling, 1 x karabiner, 1 x prussic
- Telescopic trekking poles with snow baskets
- Head torch (LED style is lightest type)
Altitude gear
- Synthetic or down insulation jacket
- Goggles in case of high wind
- Neoprane face mask in case of wind
- Thick waterproof over gloves
- Windproof over trousers (eg PacLite)
General kit
- Close fitting sun glasses (Factor 4 for snow)
- Pocket snacks for summit day (eg Haribos)
- Water bottle (bladder type may freeze)
- Rucksack (up to 35 litres max is ideal)
- Basic blister kit, Aspirin, suncream
Suggested reading and kit
View full course equipment list, with examples of kit, click here
Why choose our trips?
See our Mont Blanc blog, by clicking on the Word-press logo to the right.
Icicle Blog
We offer a range of courses to suit you, with 5, 6, 10 or 12 days of actual guiding for your ascent. There isn't one plan that suits all.
Four days with extra guides (1:2) to make your ascent. No operators offer as many days 1:2 guiding. Most only offer 2 or 3 days 1:2.
Four days of 1:2 guiding, enable you to climb other summits as well as Mont Blanc, rather than some operatirs who use 4 days of a trip walking up and down from huts!
We usually start from the high huts on Mont Blanc (Gouter hut or the Cosmiques or Gonella), to give you the shortest summit climb.
Itinerary flexibility to allow you to take full advantage of the weather windows on any day, to maximise your summit chances.
Our prices are fixed in £ Sterling, to protect you from euro fluctuations, so you can budget accurately.
There is a choice of routes to opt for, depending on the weather, conditions, and your experience.
If you don't choose us?
Some of the downfalls of not booking with Icicle for your Mont Blanc attempt are.....
Less days with the potential for summit weather windows = less chance of success.
Total itinerary flexibility to make your summit attempt at the first weather window when ready.
Some operators make you check out of your valley accommodation when you are in huts!
Why others cost more
There's many offerings out there that cost upwards of £600-£1200 more than us. Why? For luxury half board chalet accommodation. We save you c.£100 per night on these prices. A bed is a bed, so we include accommodation, that is functional with basic self-catering facilities. That's quite some dinner and drinks you could have for the c.£100 per night savings, or you could keep your hard earned money in your bank account instead!
Prefer a virtual ascent?
Google Streetview and Mammut 360 provide images of virtual ascents, so you can 'climb', from your sofa ;-) Click on the images below to link...
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District. Arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor. Many people opt for this service, and it is an integral part of what we offer, to ensure that you are prepared as possible.



As well as talking though your course, most clients have queries about the kit they will require, to avoid expensive mistakes, and we can show you some examples of that to consider. Others have training queries, about how to best prepare for your trip, and we will be able to steer you in the right direction. No question is too silly, and we'll have heard them all before! An integral part of booking is the ability to get good knowledgable advice, and a highly personal service. Unlike companies that only exist virtually in cyberspace, we are staffed by real people, in a real office, who offer real honest advice. Because we are tangible, we are accountable, and we take great pride in that and the service that we offer you. Get in touch to come in for a chat soon.
 



Feedback & photos from Mont Blanc summit... To read more specific feedback click here, and for all feedback click here.




"Excellent photos! And what a fantastic trip! Memories that will last forever! A huge thank you to the best team and to Icicle and all our guides! Spot on!" Jo W, Mont Blanc
"Low on frills. High on skills. A no-nonsense week exactly as you advertised. Great team both on and off the mountain, who all made it happen for us" Stephen R, Mont Blanc
"So happy to have reached the summit. Gio was a great guide, who took care of us, and always made us feel safe. We couldn't have do it without him" Sophie McM, Mont Blanc



"Just wanted to say a massive thanks (and to the other guys in the office and the guides) on behalf of me and A, for your support and advice during the week, and for rearranging the schedule and sorting the extra night in Gouter at such short notice to allow us to summit safely. I know that must have been a challenge and just wanted to say it was much appreciated. We had a fantastic time - a really tough challenge, but you guys made it so much better and took a lot of the worry and stress away. Hope to see you again on another trip somewhere" Vinny H, Mont Blanc




 
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