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Gear and Equipment List for Mont Blanc

Find out everything experienced climbers pack on their journey along the trail of Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc. We've consulted the experts and put together a detailed gear and equipment list to ensure your own climb will be a success! Read on to start preparing your own packing list and get ready for one incredible adventure along the Tour du Mont Blanc, a 170-kilometre long hiking trail! 

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Your Mont Blanc packing list

 
What you choose to pack has an enormous impact on the success rate of your climb. Remember, with mountain climbing, it’s all about proper preparation. To climb Mont Blanc, you’ll need a specific array of gear as well as the appropriate clothing to protect you from the often frigid temperatures. 
 

  • Clothing
Quality hiking clothing can be really expensive, but in most cases, it’s necessary to ensure trustworthy clothing. Buy yourself liner socks, as well as heavyweight hiking socks to put over them. You’ll also need a pair of heavy duty gaiters, and a quality pair of boots that are well insulated and broken-in to combat the conditions. 

What clothing you pack is obviously going to be dependent on what you’re comfortable carrying and your own understanding of your body’s response to cold conditions, but packing a bottom, middle, and top baselayer is essential. As a general note, you’ll want to make sure this base layer hugs your body well, but isn’t interfering with your body’s circulation. You’ll also likely need both softshell and hardshell pants, and an insulated jacket or insulated down parka. 

Keeping your hands warm is a crucial aspect of climbing, so ensure you don’t skimp on the handwear. You’ll need a pair of insulated mittens, softshell gloves, as well as a pair of climbing gloves. 

Don’t forget to pack the appropriate headgear as well, which would include a cap and wool hat, head torch, glasses made for walking on glaciers, ski goggles, and a climbing helmet. 

It’s also easy to forget that you’ll need to pack some normal clothes with you for the days prior to the climb. In many cases, climbers leave these clothes back at a hotel or with a friend or guide on the ground and pick them up after their respective climb. 
 
  • Technical gear
The clothing that you bring with you is going to be quite dependent on preference, but there is some technical gear that you simply need to have with you for safety reasons. For starters, be sure to get yourself a high-quality pair of mountaineering crampons (12 point). You’ll also want to get yourself a high-quality ice axe, and be sure to double check with your guide upon arrival that the axe you’ve brought is suitable.

You’ll also need some standard and locking carabiners, and your preferred trekking poles for the climb. 
 

What you should wear

On your hands:
Insulated mittens
On your feet:
Waterproof boots with ankle support (broken in)
On your head:
Breathable cap (avoid waterproof as they tend to run hot)
On your body:
Waterproof jacket, an insulated layer, thin fleece, and light weight waterproof pants
In your pack:
First aid kit, wool hat, emergency blanket and satellite phone (if you are on a guided tour you can avoid to carry these items as they will be provided by your guide)

Mont Blanc temperatures

JANFEBMARAPRMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOCTNOVDEC
Average °C-3-7-358141615138-1-6
Average °F261926414657605955463021
High °C-1-5-171015181815101-3
High °F302330445059646459503326
Low °C-6-11-7159121072-5-9
Low °F211219334148535044352315

How to climb Mont Blanc

  • How do I prepare for Mont Blanc?

    Successfully reaching the summit of Mont Blanc requires a high degree of preparation in both your route planning as well as your fitness levels. This is not a mountain which can be climbed on a whim, especially if you lack climbing and hiking experience. 
  • When should I climb Mont Blanc?

    Mont Blanc is located in the northern hemisphere, which means the best time to climb is in the summer. June to September is the safest time to climb, but if you desire fewer crowds and you’ve got an impressive climbing resume, then the spring and fall is also an option. Learn more. 
     
  • What permits do I need?

    Despite recent environmental concerns, as well as worries about popular routes facing overcrowding, there is currently no official permit required to climb Mont Blanc. Learn more.
  • Do I need a guide to climb?

    Mont Blanc is the most dangerous mountain in the region and, as such, a guide is strongly recommended - but not required. It’s strongly suggested that first-timers and inexperienced alpine hikers hire a guide.
  • How do I get to Mont Blanc?

    Mont Blanc is actually quite accessible, as it can be reached via road, rail, or air. Fly into Geneva, Lyon, or Haute-Savoie Mont Blanc Airport with Geneva providing closest access (just under 90km away). Otherwise, drive to Chamonix, or catch a train from London. Learn more.
  • What should I pack/what equipment do I need?

    Mont Blanc is one of the world’s tallest mountains and, as such, you’re going to need to bring an array of gear to enable a successful climb. You’ll need an ice axe, helmet, crampons, trekking poles, gaiters, as well as the appropriate clothing to reach the summit. Learn more.

Best Mont Blanc Treks and Routes

  • Gouter Hut Route

    This is one of the most popular ways to reach the summit, as well as the shortest. Remember, due to its popularity, you’ll need to book the Gouter Hut Refuge well in advance. It’s considered the easiest route overall, but still requires serious climbing know-how and outstanding physical fitness.  

    Distance: approximately 4000 metres from the typical starting point to the summit and back. 
    Average duration: 2-3 days 
    Average difficulty: Challenging - climbing experience and know-how is a necessity on this route, as some days will require upwards of 800m of difficult descent. You’ll need experience using crampons, ice axes, and other climbing gear, as well as clothing which befits the extreme cold that can be experienced on the Mont Blanc massif. A very high degree of physical fitness, as well as mental toughness, will be required to reach the summit. You’ll be hiking at times at an altitude over 4000 metres. 
    Success rate: The success rate depends on whether you have hired a guide and the conditions that year, but tends to be around 65-75%
  • Grand Mulets Route

    • This route is beloved by skiers because of the access this route offers to the north face of Mont Blanc. As far as the ascent is concerned, it’s actually the original route that was used to reach the peak by Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard. Due to concerns over rockfall, it’s recommended to ensure there are good weather conditions when embarking on this route. 

      Distance: approximately 3000 metres from the typical starting point to the summit and back. 
      Average duration: 2-3 days 
      Average difficulty: Challenging - previous climbing experience is highly recommended, as the days will feature extensive treks and climbs, including a 7-hour trek to the summit which is typically done on the second day. Some parts of the Grand Mulets route are also badly crevassed, which makes previous climbing experience all the more important. This route will also include extremely high altitude (anywhere from 3200 to 4500 metres and beyond) 
      Success rate: The success rate here depends on whether you’ve hired a guide and how you choose to implement the skiing component (not all climbers/skiers summit on this route), but around 70% is likely.
  • Cosmiques Route

    This route is entirely on French territory and touches upon all three of the massif’s peaks, which has garnered this route a reputation among climbers as one of the most challenging, but also perhaps the most beautiful. Make no mistake though, this route is very difficult, and though it doesn’t necessarily take long to reach the summit, it’s two days you better be prepared for. 

    Distance: approximately 3500 metres from the typical starting point to the summit and back. 
    Average duration: 2-3 days
    Average difficulty: Challenging - Whether you’re aiming to tackle the summit in 2 or 3 days or not, your final ascent is going to be extremely physically challenging. If you aim to summit in two days, your ascent/descent on the final day could take up to 12 hours, especially if your group is moving slowly. You’ll need working climbing knowledge, and you’ll need an understanding of how to utilize ice axes, crampons, and how to lay properly to maintain body heat. 
    Success rate: The success rate depends on whether you have hired a guide and the conditions that year, but tends to be around 60-75%
  • Haute Route

    This isn’t the typical route when you think of Mont Blanc by any means. Rather, it’s the name given to the famous route between Zermatt, Switzerland and Chamonix, France. Traditionally, it’s conceived of as a route completed in the winter in roughly 7 days or in the summer, but it will take roughly 5-7 days longer. 

    Distance: 180 km
    Average duration: 12-14 days
    Average difficultyModerate to challenging
  • Tour du Mont Blanc

    This is, again, not necessarily a conventional “route” as it were, but rather a long-distance walk. It has 10km of ascent/descent overall, and the route offers gorgeous scenes through Italy, Switzerland, and, of course, France. This route essentially circles the Mont Blanc Massif. 

    Distance: 170km
    Average duration: 11 days 
    Average difficultyModerate/Challenging. The Tour du Mont Blanc is highly customizable and, as such, it can include a more rugged and challenging path, or a mild one. Regardless, this route does require a base level of physical fitness, and you’ll also need to be wearing the appropriate footwear and clothing to find success, but is doable with the right level of preparation and dedication. 
    Success rate: 100%

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