This is a suggested list for the mountaineering equipment required for Climbing Mont Blanc in normal summer conditions. Remember that whilst the equipment is important, mountaineering skill & fitness is even more important! If in doubt about your ability, please get in touch regarding our Mont Blanc courses or private guiding.
Keep your rucksack light by having a light and simple pack with all the essential equipment in, and nothing else! See our packing tips below. Makes and models are examples only, many other good alternatives are available.
Technical equipment (crampons, ice-axe, harness, helmet) and mountaineering boots can be hired from us at good value rates.
- Mountain Boot – Boots designed for alpine mountaineering and thus able to take crampons effectively (B3 or B2) and well insulated. In general, a heavier and more insulated boot than a classic light summer alpine boot is recommended. Examples of suitable boots are Scarpa Mont Blanc, Phantom Guide, Jorasses and Freney. The new Scarpa Mantas are a reasonable compromise if you have good circulation plus good weather and conditions! Sportiva Nepal Extreme’s or Evos are also suitable and popular as are many and various other good brands that meet the above specifications. Boots can be hired from us or in Chamonix if you don’t have a suitable pair.
- Crampons and bag – 12 point mountaineering crampons with anti-balling plates, essential. The Petzl Vasak crampon makes an ideal crampon. When packed in your rucksack they are best stored in a sturdy bag to stop them from damaging anything else. Avoid both very lightweight walking / ski touring crampons or heavy technical ice climbing crampons.
- Ice axe -A simple mountaineering ice axe is ideal and preferable to technical climbing models. Petzl summit, Black Diamond Venom, Grivel air-tech and, cheapest but still totally fine, DMM Cirque. Any straps or leashes on your ice axe should be removed.
- Harness – General mountaineering harness ideal e.g. DMM Super Couloir / Centre or Black Diamond Bod, with 2 X screw gate Karabiners. If you already have a rock climbing harness this will be fine as long as it is large enough to wear over multiple bulky warm layers. If you are buying one specifically for Mont Blanc, choose a lightweight alpine mountaineering harness or a good general harness for both rock climbing & mountaineering like the Petzl Corax.
- Helmet -General mountaineering helmet essential e.g. Petzl Elios or other Black Diamond or Petzl mountaineering helmet.
- Hardware – This kit will be provided by the guide but, if you have your own then please bring a belay plate / Karabiners / Sling (120cm).
- Rucksack – A 30-50ltr rucksack is required. When it comes to fit it’s best to try some on before buying. Key features to look for are: adjustable waist and shoulder straps; easy to use buckles for opening/closing sack; 1 ideally 2 ice axe attachment points; side compression straps; durable/waterproof fabrics. The sack should come with either a waterproof liner or use some dry bags to keep clothing and other kit dry and separated in your pack. You should be able to get all the kit listed here inside, it’s best to avoid having any kit attached to the outside of the sack other than your axe(s) and if we give you a rope to carry! A good example of a suitable rucksack is the Arc’teryx Alpha AR 35 Other suitable rucksacks can be viewed HERE.
- Waterproof Shell-Jacket – Gore-Tex material or similar that provides a high level of waterproofness and breathability. A helmet-compatible hood, external & internal pockets and waterproof zips are good features to look for. Avoid a softshell material it is can be a gamble if conditions are wet. A good example is the Arc’teryx Alpha AR jacket available in both men’s & women’s.
- Waterproof Shell-Trousers – Gore-Tex material or similar that provides a high level of waterproofness and breathability. Side-zips on the legs are a useful feature as it makes it easier to put them on in tricky situations. Arc’teryx Beta SV Bib Pant is a good example, available in both men’s & women’s.
- Down Layer – It is essential to have a down jacket with you for colder conditions, a jacket with a fill of around 700 – 750 should do it. It should be packable, warm, and have a helmet-compatible hood. Example Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody available in both men’s & women’s.
- Mid-Layer(s) – It is best to have a number of lightweight layers to make up your clothing system. Fleece layers are ideal for this as you can add and remove them according to how you feel and the conditions. Stretch fleece jacket, half or full-zip options all work well, an example is Arc’teryx Kyanite LT hoody available in both men’s & women’s.
- Base Layers – this should include your underwear (pants!) and base layer top and legs. Wearing natural fibers like merino wool next to your skin is good for comfort, breathability, and warmth; not to mention they smell a lot less than synthetic fibers. Merino or a similar wool base layer for your top and legs is ideal, Smartwool, Icebreaker and other brands all make suitable products.
- Hat / Balaclava – You should bring a warm hat for cold conditions and if you have a balaclava, bring it. Neck gaiters / ‘buffs’ can be useful. You will need a sun hat or cap for warm summer conditions to keep the sun off your head / face, this can sometimes be worn under your climbing helmet.
- Gloves – Ideally a liner pair, a thinner pair for dexterity holding an ice axe, with a grippy leather palm and fingers and a pair of thicker, warmer, insulated gloves. Examples here.
- Socks – It is best to only wear 1 pair of socks inside your boots, a medium thickness pair, possibly in wool is a good choice.
- Gaiters – These will help to keep snow out of your boots and your feet warm and dry as well as your laces away from your crampons, ideally, they should be breathable. Examples can be found HERE. Boots with built in gaiters also work well and generally mean that you don’t need an additional pair.
- Head Torch – With new batteries. Petzl Swift RL as an example. Necessary for pre-dawn starts and moving around in the mountain hut at night.
- Walking Poles – you may wish to bring 1 or a pair of walking poles for walks in & out. Lightweight, foldable poles are ideal; example Black Diamond Distance Z poles.
- Sun Glasses & Goggles -Good quality dark sunglasses that form a good seal with your face and fit securely. Category 3 or 4 for use in strong sunlight with reflection from the snow. Goggles are also useful incase of windy / snowy weather. If you have ski goggles, bring them. If not you can wait and see what the forecast is and buy goggles in Chamonix.
- Sun Cream & Lip Protection – Bring both and use liberally every day regardless of the weather. At least factor 30 and factor 50 preferable. Small bottles are ideal to save weight.
- Water Bottle – A tough 1L ‘Nalgene’ style water bottle is ideal and can be supplemented with another bottle of sports drink etc. for the summit days. Hot sweet tea is sometimes available in the huts and a good way of keeping your drink warm for longer.
- Snacks / Hill food – Bring your favorite snacks for the hill, flapjacks, cereal bars, dried fruit, cake, chocolate, energy bars etc. Things can be bought in Chamonix before departure and in the mountain huts which also provide lunch.
- Personal Medical Items – Blister kit, plasters, painkillers, glasses / contact lenses as necessary
- Personal Admin Items – Mobile Phone, Cash, Passport if necessary, Insurance details – see our Insurance FAQ
Extra Kit For The Mountain Huts
- Very thin / light sheet sleeping bag / liner is required in huts (compulsory for hygiene reasons). This is a very small / light item and not a normal sleeping back (which is not required). Examples can be found on the Needlesports website here and similar or cheaper / heavier ones are also available in shops in Chamonix
- Ear Plugs
- Hut discount card / Alpine club membership
- 1 Euro coin for use in the Tete Rousse Hut lockers
- Waterproof rucksack cover is in the event of wet weather hut walks.
- If you have packed things that are not on this list, check with your Guide that you really need them because excess baggage really slows you down, tires you out and is a big problem.
Equipment Provided by your Mountain Guide (but carried by the group as a whole)
- Map, Compass & GPS
- Mountaineering Hardware & Crevasse Rescue Gear
- First Aid Kit
- Group Shelter
Extra Equipment For The Winter Rooms In The Mountain Huts – For An Out Of Season Ascent
- Larger pack to accommodate all the gear listed below! 45-60L ideal, but still a mountaineering pack and not heavy backpacking style
- Thin & light sleeping bag to supplement the blankets available in huts, but you never quite know what state the hut will be in with regard to blankets and number of other guests, so it’s recommended to take a small sleeping bag.
- Small gas stove for snow melting. But not too small as there is lots of snow melting to do!
- A pan, lighters and plenty of gas for all the snow melting – on our October 2021 Mont Blanc summit trip, we used just under 1 x 240g can of Coleman gas per person for the 3 day, 2 night trip, for all drinking water, boil in the bags, brews and breakfasts. Eg 4.5 cans for 5 people.
- Wide mouthed Nalgene water bottles for ease of filling
- Mug and spoon
- Boil in the bag meals and breakfasts
- Tea, coffee, isotonic sports drinks
- Rubbish bags
Climbing Outside Of The Main Summer Season
Please see our winter alpine kit list for more advice on extra warm gear here:
Rucksack Packing Advice
- Try hard to get your rucksack as light as possible. This will make a big difference to your enjoyment, speed and chances of success on Mont Blanc. Think “Light is “Right” and “The only thing that weights nothing….is nothing!”
- Pack the items in your sack according to how frequently you use them. Snacks, sun cream & hat, light gloves, water bottle all packed in top pockets or at the top of your pack followed by things like your crampons, jacket, warm hat etc. The bottom of your sack is reserved for things like duvet jacket, warm gloves and goggles. Think about using your pockets if you can for handy items like your camera and lip barrier cream so you don’t even need to stop to get them out.
- Develop a system for where items are stored in your rucksack and stick to it.
- Take some time adjusting the straps on your rucksack so the main weight of the pack sits on your hips and the shoulder straps keep it in place.
Buying New Kit?
If you plan to make some new kit purchases for this course then we recommend a few places to look online that not only provide a good range of clothing and equipment but also some excellent advice on suitable products for your chosen sport. They are:
Needle Sports – An independent climbing gear shop that supplies mountaineering, rock, ice, alpine & expedition climbing equipment. They have a shop in Keswick in the Lake District.
Facewest – with 20 years of providing an excellent online retail experience and plenty of knowledge and enthusiasm, they stock a wide range of products for climbing, skiing, running, and hiking.
Sport Pursuit – is an online retailer, mainly of clothing who sells, at highly discount prices, end of lines, and unsold stock from shops and brands. If you look carefully through their website you can find some excellent clothing items at a really great price.
An important element in having the right equipment – is understanding the current conditions and weather – so check the link above for any up-to-date info that will help in planning and preparing for your own forthcoming Mont Blanc expedition…