At 4810 m (15,774 ft), Mont Blanc (in Italian Monte Bianco) is the highest summit of Western Europe, situated between the French and the Italian Alps, near the town of Chamonix (France) and Courmayeur (Italy).
Mont Blanc literally means White Mountain.
The Elbrus in the Caucasus is taller, and represents Europe on the Seven Summits list, though Mont Blanc deserves a honorable mention, as a classic for mountaineers. Since the North Caucasus is not safe for travellers as of 2015, Mont Blanc is more appealing as a European summit.
Mont Blanc was first climbed by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel Paccard in 1786, and the next year by H.-B. de Saussure.
There is a regular airport transfer service from Geneva Airport to your accommodation in Les Houches, Chamonix & Argentiere operated by *Chamexpress The price is €25 (about $28 or £18) per person, each way.
Ascension on foot
Although climbing Mont Blanc is not technically very difficult, the altitude requires proper training and equipment. Every year, several thousand people do it and several accidents are caused by improper preparation. A mountain guide is necessary unless you already know the place (660 €, about $740 or £480, for one or two persons).
It can be done in July and August.
Ascent by ski
Climbing Mont Blanc by ski is reserved for highly trained skiers. It's mostly glacier skiing. It can be done from March to June, depending on the snow coverage. A mountain guide is necessary unless you already know the place.
Ascent by cable car
Climbing Mont Blanc can be traversed by a series of trams from the Italian side to the French side. It is a beautiful experience offering the comfort of heated stops with restaurants and the option of getting out to hike over the glaciers. Bring warm clothes. The return trip can be made by a bus which travels through a tunnel under the mountain.
- The Skier's Lodge. B&B in Les Houches, 150m from the Bellevue Cable Car. En-suite rooms, hot-tub, sauna, swimming pool. Sleeps up to 20. €30/person.
- "Résidence Pierre & Vacances Le Belmont - Arc 1800", ☎ +33 1 58 21 55 84. Has magnificent views of the Mont Blanc, in the village of Charmettoger. The apartments are big, duvets and Wi-Fi connection in all apartments, services include a heated ski room, boot dryers, a lounge with open fire, a children's play area, a ski shop and a food hamper delivery service. The residence is just 300m from the shopping centre and ski lifts.
- Hotel Bouton d'Or, Courmayeur. Central location. Bedrooms decorated in alpine style. Buffet breakfast with home made and local food. Sauna, tecnogym, garage and parking, wifi internet.
Some sources estimate that over 100 people die on Mont Blanc every year. Some do not make mistakes; some do, and die as a result. It is extremely important that, when climbing or hiking on the mountain, you;
- Get a mountain guide unless you already know the place, per the above advice.
- Bring enough navigational and mountaineering equipment: for example, in snow-capped areas, ensure everyone has an ice axe.
- Check the weather forecast for the area: but be prepared for rough weather even if it is not forecast.
- Plan your expedition in advance, including the route you'll take, and stick to it.
- Abandon your expedition if the weather becomes too harsh for you to continue, or if you feel you are not fully prepared.
- Take enough clothing to keep you warm and dry, but not more than you can carry. You may need thicker clothing than you initially think.
- Have an emergency plan in place.
- Leave somebody with information as to where you are. Also arrange to be back within a certain amount of time, so if something goes seriously wrong, rescue teams will know sooner.
- Learn to recognize the symptoms of hypothermia, such as tiredness and the urge to remove layers of clothing. A person with hypothermia needs getting out of there, or they could die – but while on the mountain, you can help by giving them high calorie food and putting them in a storm jacket.
- If you think somebody in your group has made a bad decision, object.
- Don't decide to go further than you originally planned to.
- Always have a first aid kit to deal with small problems.
- Remain aware of your surroundings, and of the hazards you may encounter, at all times.