“The standard route up Mt. Blanc, starting in the Chamonix Valley and ending at the top of the highest peak in the Alps.”
— Jacob Winey
This mountain tends to change year by year and by season—make sure you know what you're getting into and check with the Chamonix Haute Montagne if you're unsure.
Features: Views — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs
This route starts from Bellevue, the top lift at Les Houches. You can also take a sightseeing train up to the St. Gervais to cut off a couple miles from the route.
From the start of this trail, ascending the gargantuan Mt. Blanc massive seems daunting. However, little by little, this non-technical route leads all the way to the top of the Alps. You'll climb out of farmland to the toe of the Bionnassay Glacier, where the trail follows a lateral moraine up to the Tete Rousse campground and hut. This is a very common place to camp if you're planning on breaking up the climb into a multi-day endeavor. People set up tents across the glacier and the hut is on a rock outcropping below them.
From here, the route gets a little more exciting. After crossing the Tete Rousse Glacier, you are at the bottom of the Dome du Gouter. You have to cross the bottom of the Grand Couloir to reach the ascent up the Aiguille du Gouter. Be very careful crossing the couloir, as rockfall is very common. Once you're on the ridge up Gouter, the route climbs steeply up loose rock. Along the climb, there are some metal bars and cables for aid in the more difficult sections. The ridge tops off at the Gouter Hut. From here on, you'll be in high alpine, glaciated terrain. Cross the Dome du Gouter carefully, as this section usually has the highest crevasse danger.
As you cross Gouter, the summit of Mt. Blanc approaches. You'll descend slightly into the Col du Gouter before the final ascent up Blanc. Shortly after you start climbing, the trail passes by the Vallot Hut, which is reserved as an emergency shelter for climbers. After you pass the hut, the trail begins climbing a narrow snow ridge to the summit called the Bosses Ridge. The trail is usually deeply set in by mountaineers and very crowded. Watch your step, as the main portion of this is above 15,000 feet. As you near the summit, the ridge widens into a dome. The summit of Mont Blanc is pretty spacious, allowing for numerous parties to enjoy the view from the top of the alps.
Flora & Fauna
Lower on the trail, there are some farm animals. Slightly higher, you may come across mountain goats and chamois.