How hard is the climbing on Mont Blanc? Do I need some mountaineering experience?

Via the ‘normal route’ the ascent is made on a rough rocky path, up to the Tete Rousse Hut and, in normal conditions, this should be a fairly straightforward walk. The next section leading to the Gouter Hut, often climbed in the dark, is steeper and involves some rocky or mixed (snow and ice on the rocks) scrambling sections. This is never hard ‘climbing’ but it is necessary to use your hands for the steeper sections and crampons are often worn, giving a fine mountaineering feel. This is the most technically challenging section of the route as, above the Gouter Hut the way ahead lies entirely on snow. The terrain up to the Vallot Reguge is mainly quite easy glacier walking whereas the impressive final sections of the ‘Bosses Ridge’ has some steeper snow slopes. These are sometimes icy and call for steady crampon work. The final narrow section of summit ridge is a little exposed but there is normally a good track and this provides a superb and fitting climax to reaching the summit.

Climbing Mont Blanc from the Aiguille du Midi / Cosmiques Hut involves a longer and steeper ascent on snow and ice. There is one sustained steep snow or icy slope of about 60m to reach the shoulder on Mont Maudit and overall this is a more challenging route. The Italian route on Mont Blanc from the new Gonella Hut is generally not as steep as this ‘3 Monts Route’ but is very long and passes through some big glacier country giving a serious overall feel to the route. There are many other routes up the mountain but they are all technically harder than the main three mentioned here and all require a lot more mountaineering skill to climb.

Whilst, on the normal routes the technical difficulties are not great it is very strongly recommended that you have a good level of experience climbing in crampons and travelling roped together on a crevassed glacier as well as the more general mountaineering skills of looking after yourself and navigating. If you don’t have this experience but hire a Mountain Guide to run a full Mont Blanc course (usually at least 6 days) you can usually develop sufficient skill at the start of the course to go on and climb the mountain with the Guide.