Ideally of course everyone would have his or her own guide, but this would effectively double the price of the course. Climbing as teams of two clients to one guide is standard practice on Mont Blanc, and in our experience 95% of the time we can avoid the situation where a strong climber has to descend because his rope mate can’t continue. Firstly, our six day course is split into two trips of three days each, the first three climbing Gran Paradiso (4061m, highest peak entirely in Italy), and the last three climbing Mont Blanc.
Gran Paradiso is a tough trip, designed to push you as much as we dare to give you maximum acclimatisation and to make sure you have the necessary fitness to attempt Mont Blanc. It is a harsh exposer of weakness, but at the same time it means that your partner for Mont Blanc will have been though this vetting process as well and will be much less likely to have to descend prematurely. Secondly we equip all our guides with professional radios. These are able to contact rescue services from anywhere on Mont Blanc or Gran Paradiso (important as there are still large areas in the high mountains where there is no phone reception), so if someone suddenly developed altitude sickness for example they could be quickly picked up by helicopter allowing the rest of the team to continue.
Additionally our radios are equipped with a private MBG channel allowing our guides to communicate with each other during the climbs. As we often have four or five independent teams going at different speeds on different parts of the mountain, this means we can change teams around or temporarily attach those needing to go down to descending teams so that stronger clients can continue. Although extremely rare, it can still happen on our courses despite these precautions. On two occasions since we started in 2004, our teams have had to abandon their ascents in order to help other climbers not connected with MBG who were in urgent need of assistance. As explained in our Terms and Conditions, we feel this is part of every mountaineer’s duty.
MBG Team on summit of Mont Blanc (guide in red)