Changes to the itinerary and logistics through the summer season
The Bellevue lift and the Mont Blanc train are not operating during the early June and late September. During this time, we organise a 4x4 taxi to drive you to the top of Bellevue lift from where you start the Mont Blanc ascent. Please note that the taxi may not be able to go as far if there is still lot of snow on the route and you may be dropped off before the Bellevue. This will add approximately 1 - 2 hours to the ascent - descent to the Gouter hut. You have to be therefore physically fit and have good stamina. As a reward, you will have good climbing conditions and less people on the climb.
Many of the local lifts and huts are closed in early June and late September. Therefore we may have to change the preparation itinerary to climbing in another part of the local mountain (e.g. around the Torino or Albert 1er huts). We may also have to change the course itinerary in case of bad weather, dangerous conditions on the mountain, heavy traffic through the Mont Blanc tunnel or closure of the tunnel or any other circumstances which we can not control.
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favourite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts it's best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food to supplement your hut dinners. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs. The huts can provide a small basic packed lunch of bread, salami, cheese and chocolate that you can buy each day but it’s important that you don’t rely on this option only. You do need to carry some snack food for each day.
You will also generally stop for short breaks every hour where you should eat and drink something in order to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
Staying in Mountain Huts
The high alpine huts are one of the big attractions to mountaineering or trekking in the Alps. They allow us the time to enjoy the mountains with only light packs and without having to worry about meals or finding somewhere to sleep! Most huts have only very basic facilities. Sleeping arrangements are in mixed sex dormitory-style rooms with bunks; there can be up to 20 people in one room.
Washing facilities are limited and generally there is no running water in any of the huts although this may vary in some huts. There are basins in which you can use bottled water to wash and clean your teeth, but they are NOT generally in private cubicles and are mixed sex. Toilets are generally septic-tank type (so non-flushing) and again mixed sex. You need to be prepared for simple living in the huts and appreciate they are located at high altitude and in inhospitable terrain.
The guardian and his/her team serve a 3-course evening meal and breakfast - food is usually nourishing and filling. Beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks are also available. All food and drink in the huts is delivered by helicopter and consequently prices will be high e.g. between 5 -10€ or 10CHF for a 1.5litre bottle of still water.
There are a few basic hut ‘rules’ that you need to follow so that you (and your fellow climbers) have a pleasant stay:
1) On arriving at the hut you must take off your boots and leave these together with your ice-axe, crampons in the foyer. Be sure to store these carefully as the hut is likely to get very busy and you’ll need to find all your kit in the morning rush!
2) House slippers are provided and must be worn in the hut
3) Your guide will register you with the guardian and will assign you your bunk
4) Follow the instructions of your guide and keep requests to the guardian and his team to a minimum – they are usually very busy sorting out groups, cooking meals, keeping the hut clean
5) In the morning your guide will often want to leave early – be sure to have all your kit ready to go the night before. Be organized and everything will be much easier!
6) It is recommended to bring ear-plugs for the nights – but make sure that you wake up on time!
If the weather forecast is poor, we will follow an alternative programme. From the Aiguille du Midi you can access the Cosmiques or Torino refuges. These are ideal bases to ascend classic mountaineering routes such as Mt Blanc du Tacul, Cosmiques Arete, Point Lachenal, Tour Ronde and the Aiguille d' Entreves. Or we can drive to Italy or Switzerland and attempt the Gran Paradiso or the Weissmies in the Saas valley – please note there will be additional transport costs for options to Italy or Switzerland.