2013 Changes to Mont Blanc Hut Reservation System
There are two main routes for climbing Mont Blanc, the Gouter and the Cosmiques (3 Monts) routes. (See image right or click here for larger size). Both are excellent routes potentially feasible for first time alpinists on a 6 day program; however they are not the same.
The chances of success on the Gouter route are much higher than they are on the Cosmiques, perhaps by as much as 40%. The Gouter route is practicable most of the time in summer, except very occasionally when the approach couloir (gully) becomes too dry and starts to produce rockfall. It is very rare for the Gouter to have avalanche risk due to the generally gentle slopes and the fact that most of it is on a ridge. The Cosmiques route however can be very avalanche prone after even short periods of snowfall, and can also become too icy; additionally the minimum standard you must achieve to be able to attempt the Cosmiques safely is quite a bit higher than for the Gouter. Hut reservations have generally to be made months in advance and are very difficult to change last minute, so we always reserve huts on the Gouter route to give the best chance of being able to attempt the summit.
In 2012 a new internet reservation system was brought in at the Gouter hut - it did not work well and it was difficult to make reservations. MBG were luckily unaffected as we base our ascents around 2 nights at the Tete Rousse hut (less altitude sickness from sleeping lower, better sleep, out of sync with the majority of other climbers); the new system is under review, however there is a chance it may be extended to the Tete Rousse in 2013.
Whilst we occasionally move clients to the Cosmiques on the rare times when the Gouter is too dry and it is therefore their only chance, I do not feel it is fair to put clients on the Cosmiques simply because we could not get a booking on the Gouter side. In all probability all will be well regarding reservations next year, but in the worst case, if we are not able to get a booking on the Gouter side for you, we will guarantee not to simply move you to the Cosmiques side but rather will give you the option of full reimbursement. We should know for sure about this at least a few months before courses start, but if we do end up being limited in hut places, we will work on a first come(booked), first serve basis. Do please contact us if you have any questions.
PLEASE NOTE ALL OPERATORS, GUIDING AGENCIES, INDIVIDUAL GUIDES AND ALPINISTS RESERVING HUTS ON MONT BLANC ARE EQUALLY AFFECTED. Nobody has a better idea of what the outcome will be in 2013 than anyone else, and nobody is in a position to guarantee hut places any more than anyone else.
2011 Season Finishes on a High, Now Booking for 2012
The season is now over and finished on a high last week with our last course making the summit in near perfect conditions. Over 70% of our courses made the top this year, slightly better than our estimated average of 66%; once again very well done to all those who made it, and I very much hope that we were still able to provide a great week's mountaineering to those of you who didn't. For the record, we had great success in June and August, with September being average and July poor - this just goes to show the chance of good weather between June and September is very much a question of luck, with no month showing better statistics overall. We changed the program for the first three training days this year, and now take in the highest mountain entirely in Italy (Gran Paradiso, 4061m) as preparation for Mont Blanc. I have been very pleased with the results as clients seem to be better acclimatised and generally more prepared as a result of already having climbed a bigger mountain; we will I think continue with this program going forward, so if all goes well you'll now get two 4000m peaks instead of one (don't worry we allow plenty of recovery time between summits!). Bookings are well underway for next year, so if 2012 is going to be your year on Mont Blanc, don't hesitate to drop us a line, we would more than happy to answer any and all of your questions. We hope to hear from you soon!
Back on Target in 2011
I'm happy to report that out of 20 courses so far this year 14 have made the summit, so we are actually slightly ahead of our 66% average chance of getting a shot at the top. Weather has been generally good though tricky at times, and several times we have had to break trail to get to the top, so well done to all those who made it under what have often been difficult conditions. Last year I personally made 8 summit attempts and only made the top twice (!) due to the conditions, but this year I am currently 6/6 and hopeful of finishing the season with a clean sweep. Conditions on the mountain remain good, so fingers crossed for the rest of the season. (John Taylor).
First Success of 2011!
The new season is now underway and we had our first successes on 6th June. New snow after a recent storm made it unusually hard going on the mountain, but thanks to a tremendous effort by (centre three, left to right) Conor O'Leary, Tory Snyder, and Will Butler, we finally reached a deserted summit at around 2:30pm. This was a particularly impressive ascent as most of the route had to be made through fresh untracked snow, and for most of the time we were completely alone - congratulations and well done!
2010 a Not So Great Year on Mont Blanc...
The 2010 season is now over. We've had a fantastic time meeting and climbing with all of you who joined us this year, but what can we say about the weather, probably the worst summer for climbing Mont Blanc that we can remember in 22 years here. In 2009 over 85% of our courses made the summit, this year it was more like 35%; week after week of good weather last year made us think about revising our advertised average "66% chance of good weather" upwards, but certainly not after this year, it may even need to go down a bit. Fortunately, as we were mostly stopped by high winds on the summit rather than precipitation, we could often attempt other challenging mountains (some of which were actually quite a bit harder than Mont Blanc!), so there was still plenty of fantastic climbing to do. The way our courses are set up gives us as high a success rate as possible, but even in the best years bad weather is always a possiblility, and it is best to come prepared for that. More often than not you'll get a shot at the top, but when you don't your time will always be filled with as much adventurous mountaineering as possible, all of which of course will hugely help your chances when the day does come. And well done of course to those of you who did make it!
MBG Approaches 1000 Clients
We are now less than 20 bookings away from our 1000th client, book now and you could win a free beer! 2010 season is about to start, so if you're joining us this year, make sure you've been through the equipment list carefully and sorted all your insurance and travel arrangements. If you're still thinking of coming, June and July are mostly full now but we still have spaces for August and September - don't forget your chances of good (and bad!) weather are about the same throughout the season. Good luck with your training, and we look forward to seeing you out here soon.
Booking now for 2010..
Bookings for 2010 are now well under way. If you're restricted to certain dates it's as well to let us know as soon as possible to make sure of availability - if you're flexible on dates however you can monitor remaining spaces on our Dates and Prices page and take more time to decide. Bear in mind that experience has shown your chances of succes are about the same throughout the year, as while June and September can sometimes be a bit too cold and snowy, July and August are more likely to produce heat generated thunderstorms - all in all you've got about a 30% chance of being stopped by the weather on our courses, and this is bearing in mind we allow three days for the actual ascent, and have the maximum possible flexibility regarding the weather.
2009 a Great Season on Mont Blanc
2009 was a fantastic season for us, with long periods of settled weather and very few courses affected by the weather. We are often asked about our "success rate", so it is perhaps worth explaining a bit about this here. By specialising solely in climbing Mont Blanc, we have been able to constantly refine our course program to give you maximum flexibility and the best possible chance of being able to attempt the mountain; however, experience has shown that there is still on average a 33% chance of being stopped by the weather on one of our weeks. This will always be the case with Europe's highest mountain and is very much part of mountaineering in general, but we will always find other exciting objectives for you, so you'll still have a great holiday (several of our testimonials are from clients who were unable to attempt Mont Blanc). This average 33% bad weather chance also varies greatly from year to year, and was more like 15% in 2009 and 2006, 33% in 2008 and 2005 and as high as 50% in 2007 (our worst year to date). Much more impressive statistics than these can be found on the web (95% success rate currently the highest!), but the actual course program (as well of course as what's included in the price) is what makes the difference.