HOW TO CLIMB MONT BLANC
Bijgewerkt: apr 18
3 critical factors to reach the summit
In the second week of June 2018 our expedition group of eight climbers and two guides reached the summit of both the Mont Blanc (4806m) and Gran Paradiso (4061m) in one week time. In this blog I write about the three critical factors to reach the summit of the Mont Blanc. I’ll give clear explanations and overview lists below a video of our expedition.
The first factor is your training. What does a good training look like?
First of all your mindset should be right. You must be ready to do everything what is required to reach that goal. That also means that the life you’re living could change for a while. But if the motivation is right, that’s your first win!
Regarding the training I would say the following;
If you have a basic condition (sporting 2-3 times a week) start 6 months upfront with the below training advice. If you’re not used to sport on weekly base or have a poor condition then I would say start at least 12 months upfront.
Focus on cardio! This means built up your own training scheme but at the end you should be able to do an endurance training of at least two hours, four times a week. Examples of sports to practice are running, cycling and rowing.
Make a few hikes of at least 8 hours through rough terrain with a backpack that weighs around 12kg.
Try to get your heart rate in zone 3 or 4 and check your breathing. Go for long deep breaths instead of many short breaths, really fill your longs with oxygen!
Also try to watch your weight. You should have normal weight regarding Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations.
Try to train with a little calorie shortage since this will make you a bit lighter and more sinewy. (in the mountains you will also have a calorie shortage)
Your equipment is the second factor you have influence on and I would advise to make no concessions on this. If you don’t climb a lot it’s easy to rent all the equipment but make sure you tested everything yourself before you go up! Definitely the shoes are important to wear for 1 or 2 days before going up. Notice that everything you bring up needs to fit in one backpack and only pack the essentials!
A summary of the items you’ll need:
Thermos clothing. Thin layer of Merino or synthetic (2x). = Sweat drain
Fleece of softshell jacket = 1th warm layer
Down jacket (Feathers of synthetic) = 2nd warm layer
Hard-shell jacket (water cell 20.000, 2 or 3 layers, taped seals, gore Tex) = Keeps you dry
Thermos underpants = Sweat drain
Hiking pants stretchy = 1th warm layer
Hard-shell pants with zippers (water cell 20.000, 2 of 3 layers, taped seals, gore Tex) = Keeps you dry
Gamache (protects your pants for the spikes of your crampons)
Thermos gloves thin = 1th warm layer
Working gloves with grip = Grip on cables
Thick Gloves (Leather with Feathers of synthetic filling ) = 2nd warm layer
Hard-shell over gloves = Keeps you dry
Sun cap or hat
+50 factor sunscreen
Sunglasses protection factor 4
Ski Goggles protection factor 4
Headlamp on batteries
Backpack 35L + (rain cover) 10-12KG
Harness Category D Shoes
Warm hiking socks
Crampons (click system preferable)
Trail running shoes
2 thermos bottles of 1L
Cash money around €250
Mobile phone with camera or action cam
So if you have trained well and are in a good and healthy condition and your equipment is well arranged, then there is one factor left. A factor which you have zero influence on and that’s the weather. You will plan your summit attempt weeks or months upfront. At that time the weather forecast is of coarse not clear yet. So you have to be lucky with the weather. If not it comes down to your guide and equipment or the summit attempt will be cancelled and your mission is over. Weather reasons to cancel could be hard blowing wind, thunder, too much or to less snow and a white out.
TIPS & TRICKS
· Bring enough energy bars and sport gels, minimum 2-3000 kcal (i.e. 4 gels and 6 bars)
· Cover your heels with sport tape in case you have doubt about the fitting of your shoes
· Thin sport shirt with long sleeves to prevent sun burns on your arms
· Leave one window open in the dormitory
· Your pace on the summit day is key, don’t break yourself on a to fast pace but do it as fast as possible. How shorter your time on the mountain the lesser the danger you’re exposed to
· Try to drink at least 4L water each day, this prevents headaches
· Bring lightweight music ear pods with you. (you will have some free time at the huts to spend)
· Bring at least thermos bottle (1L) for hot tea (will be filled by the hut in the morning)
· Eat every breakfast like it’s you last, for the rest of the day you will be running on dry bread, bars and gels
· To prepare the couloir crossing, do some (big wall) rock climbing
· Practice with your backpack layout. Put the stuff you need first on top etc.
· Less, less Less! The less you take up the easier the climb will be.
· To take a great picture you can bring a flag or take something personal of yourself or friend to photograph
· Your time on the summit will depend on the weather but will be maximum 15 minutes. It will be pretty cold and definitely windy, so to take pictures you have to be quit fast and accurate. Take lots of photos or review on top to make sure you have a good one!
Scheme of a regular day;