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Mont Blanc Autonomy 2024
Skills for independence | Climb Gran Paradiso & Mont Blanc
Course overview
For those with a little previous climbing experience, the Mont Blanc Intermediate course is the Alpine Autonomy Course with the Mont Blanc Summits course on the end to give a good chance of summiting Mont Blanc.
Over two weeks you attempt famous Alpine routes, such as the remote Domes du Miages, and train and acclimatise for your ascent of Mont Blanc. There are up to three nights in huts to acclimatise.
On the second week of this course, we are as flexible as possible with the itinerary so that, if you feel ready, fit and acclimatised, you can make your summit attempt on the first weather window.
The technical content will be tailored to build on your current experience, with an emphasis on glacier travel and crevasse rescue on both dry and wet glaciers. The course also covers a whole host of ropework and Alpine safety issues such as avalanche awareness, belays and anchors, crampon and ice axe techniques.
This course is set at just above the level of the Introduction course (summer or winter), so if you have a bit too much experience (such as previous rock climbing experience) this course is for you. The vast majority of the routes ascended are of the Alpine PD grade (roughly equivalent to Scottish Grade II/III).
The second week is focused on you preparing and summiting Mont Blanc, with other summits and nights spent at altitude to increase acclimatisation. Read our dedicated information page on Mont Blanc: summit focus.
On the second week of this course, we are deliberately as flexible as possible with the itinerary so that, if you feel ready, fit and acclimatised, you can make your summit attempt on the first available weather window during this second week.
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.

Brief Course Itinerary

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.

Gallery: Chamonix town
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.

Gallery: Mer de Glace
Alpine ridge route, such as the Traverse of Aiguille du Crochues, to focus on ropework, moving together, anchors, and the assessment of objective dangers. The route chosen for this day is generally a mixed route that is ascended in mountain boots rather than in rock shoes. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max). Evening theory session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Crochues Traverse
Today you really progress your altitude snowskills with an ascent of another peak, such as the Pointe Lachenal / Arete Lolo / Aiguilles Marbrees, and all skills previously learnt will be tested. This style of route will really work on your crampon skills and the selection of snow belays on steeper ground. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max). Evening theory session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Petite Aiguille Verte
The start of a two day route with a night in a mountain hut (half board hut not included for you and guide), or a day route. You decide the itinerary for the last two days of this course. Typically groups ascend the Domes du Miages, Aiguille du Tour, Petite Forche, or Mont Blanc du Tacul, and the route chosen is a reflection of your autonomy skills development and of the conditions. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max). Night in mountain hut / Chamonix.

Gallery: Aiguille du Tour
If you opted for a two day route, then today will be an Alpine start from the mountain hut to ascend one of the peaks mentioned on the previous day, or it could also be another day route if you have opted for that. After the main ascent of the week, you descend back to the Chamonix valley. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max). Evening social drinks, then a celebratory meal, with the final night spent in Chamonix.

Gallery: Autonomy week
Saturday & Sunday
Breakfast, then you have two days off to really concentrate on resting and relaxation. Some people opt to book a tandem paraglider flight in the morning to celebrate the first weeks efforts, and prices for this are from c.100€ for a c.30 minute flight. These flights can be booked in resort up to the day before you wish to fly. On the Sunday evening you meet at 17:00 for a briefing on the plans for the second week

Gallery: Chamonix rock climbing
After breakfast you meet our resort team, and guide, for a weather briefing and final kit checks for Gran Paradiso. You are driven by minibus (core season) through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Val Savaranches in Italy, then ascend to the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II or Chabod mountain hut, where you spend the night on a half board basis. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max) in hut, or 1:6 (max) for approach. Night in mountain hut in Italy.

Gallery: Paradiso National Park
Alpine start (c.4 am) to climb Gran Paradiso 4061, the highest peak completely in Italy. There are 4 possible normal routes to the summit, to cater for conditions / experience, all of which converge on the Col Montcorve. The route steepens to the final summit ridge, which although short is quite exposed, but well protected. The summit views are stupendous in all directions! Descend to Pont for return transfer to Chamonix
. Night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Gran Paradiso 4061m
This day is flexible to allow you to normally climb another acclimatisation route to a summit, or to start your ascent of Mont Blanc if weather or hut spaces dictate. Typical routes for the day include Cosmiques Arete, Aiguilles Marbrees, Pointe Lachenal or Aiguille du Toule. Return to Chamonix to prepare for Mont Blanc. Guiding ratio 1:2 (max). Evening briefing session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Petite Aiguille Verte
Equipment and bag checks before you set off to climb up to one of the high huts, either the Gouter / Tête Rousse / Gonella mountain 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.

Gallery: Mont Blanc Gouter
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, lowest windss, and to minimise the risks of stonefall or afternoon storms on the descent. You typically reach the valley in the afternoon. Guiding ratio 1:2 (max). Most teams opt to meet up to go out for drinks and a celebratory meal. Final night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Mont Blanc Gonella
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

Gallery: Icicle Windermere office
ITINERARY NOTES: Where possible we follow itineraries. Mountain adventures are weather and conditions dependant, so occasionally we are forced to alter the plans. If this is the case, suitable alternatives are offered. Please use this outline itinerary as a guide to the types of route / activity that you will attempt.

Course Prices
Alpine Autonomy course (£1099) followed by Mont Blanc Summits course (£1899), totals £2998, so you save £99!
Standard course
10 days guiding, 14 days holiday in total £2899
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 ten days, 2) Chamonix course hosts for logistics & briefings, 3) Self-catered accommodation in Chamonix (inc. beddings & towels), 4) Up to three nights half board in mountain huts (inc. costs for guides), two nights of which are paid for by Icicle (Gran Paradiso & Mont Blanc), 5) Pre course information booklet, 6) Equipment discount voucher for UK shops, 7) Free 36 page technical Course Instruction Booklet, 8) Road transport in Chamonix valley, 9) Icicle discounts privilege card for reductions in local shops and restaurants in Chamonix. 10) Evening technical instruction / briefing sessions.
Exclusions: 1) Travel to and from Chamonix, 2) Equipment hire, 3) Cable cars & uplift (c. 120 euros depending on itinerary), 4) Optional nights in a mountain hut on a half board basis for you and guide (1 in first week, and 1 in second week), 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.
Course upgrade options
Many clients on this trip consider upgrading with one or more of the following course additions...
Big 5 Alpine
kit rental
  Upgrade to single from
£300-£500 in addition to
standard course price,
depending on week.
Extend by 2 days after
to ascend one of the
Big 5 Alpine peaks as
an extra summit.
Rent all technical kit
for a week. Full Alpine
Bundle costs you just
£100 for the week.
Saturday night spent in
Chamonix, with choice
of self-guided or guided
on Sunday. From £70.
  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 / week reduction applied on your invoice.
FREE Alpine summits open eve
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 from 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
  • [5+] 1 - 2 Jun 2024
Current course availability

Course Dates
Mont Blanc Autonomy
  • [ 0 ] 23 Jun - 6 Jul 2024
  • [ 1 ] 7 - 20 Jul 2024
  • [ 1 ] 21 Jul - 3 Aug 2024
  • [ 2 ] 4 - 17 Aug 2024
  • [ 0 ] 18 - 31 Aug 2024
  • [ 3 ] 1 - 14 Sep 2024

Price: £2899 Book online

Alternative courses
Alpine Autonomy course
Alpine Introduction course
Mont Blanc Achievements
Mont Blanc Summit

Client feedback

Good organisation. Plenty of information and skills learnt from Guides and instructors. Felt very confident of suggestions and recommendations of routes. Very useful course for learning autonomy in the Alps. Gained lots of skills useful for climbing in a small unguided team

Ryan D , Mont Blanc Autonomy

Thank you all for your assistance with our group, and many compliments from us all on the structure itinerary

Josephine T , MB Autonomy

Fun and informative all the time

Jess W , Achievements
Press & media
Films & videos
Photo gallery
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
Pre-requisite experience
For this course there is a large quantity of technical instruction and skills elements, with a wide range of routes that can be climbed during the week. Please ensure that you have all the pre-requisite skills and experience requirements for this course;

Crampons - have used crampons, even for winter skills / walking

Rock - if no outdoor rock experience, to be a capable scrambler

Ropework - be able to tie on to a rope, and to belay safety

Fitness - to be the fitness required for this Mont Blanc course
Course notes
Unlike our other two week Mont Blanc courses, this trip requires previous experience, so on some weeks where weather, conditions, or client matches make more sense, we will swap the first and second weeks around. This is to make your trip more enjoyable, and to ensure you achieve the most.
Films from the summit
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
- 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 Alpine blog, by clicking on the Word-press logo to the right.
Icicle Blog
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.
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.

Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor.

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