Everyone loves a good kit list!
This one is designed for a Mont Blanc ascent in normal summer conditions. Off season ascents obviously require a different set of gear. This list also assumes your using the mountain huts, and not carrying camping gear up and down the hill.
You can always tell an experienced mountaineer by their rucksack, especially on a mountain like Mont Blanc. A light rucksack means you will move faster and more efficiently, and on a long summit day like Mont Blanc, dropping a few kilos from your back can have a big effect.
Basically, drop all the luxuries and listen to the advice of your guide when it comes to clothing. Ditch the book, PJ’s and cuddly toy – go light and fast!
Technical Gear – which can be rented from us or in Chamonix.
- B2 or B3 Mountaineering boots. You need warm boots, that can take a C2-3 crampon. Despite the photos of people in trainers on the mountain, it does get very cold and icy. Scarpa make a good range – Freney, Jorass etc.
- Crampons – 12 point steel mountaineering crampons are ideal, with a set of anti-balling plates. Petzl Vasak for example. Lightweight Alloy crampons are not suitable for icy conditions and ice climbing crampons are heavy.
- Ice axe – 50 – 70cm. A walking style axe is fine and they are generally lighter than a climbing axe. Remove all leaches and straps, they get in the way.
- Harness – large enough to go over your layers. 2 x screwgate krabs.
- Helmet – A rock climbing helmet to go from the Tete Rousse hut to the Gouter.
- Rucksack – Light and simple, 35 – 50 Ltr. Some rucksacks weigh over 2kg, some as little as 0.5kg.
Clothing – There are lots of gear shops in Chamonix, from cheap to posh for last minute purchases.
- Gaiters for mountaineering boots. Keeps the snow out and stops you catching your crampons.
- Thin liner socks and mid weight walking socks. Can prevent blisters if you have two layers, but not essential.
- Warm gloves for summit day, e.g Mountain Equipment guide glove or similar. Plus one pair of thinner fleece gloves for general walking.
- Warm hat, buff/neck gaiter and a sun hat.
- Waterproof jacket and trousers, lightweight is best. Ideally your jackets hood will go over a helmet.
- Trousers – Mid weight soft shell trousers are ideal, and normally wouldn’t require a thermal layer underneath, you can use the waterproof trousers if it’s windy above the Gouter hut. E.g. Arcteryx Beta pants. Thinner trousers can work, but you may need a thermal layer as well.
- Thermal top layer, thin long sleeved tops work best to keep the sun off.
- Mid weight top layer. Fleece or other synthetic.
- Lightweight down or mid weight synthetic over jacket. This needs to be able to go over all your other layers so you can add or remove it without having to take your waterproof or harness off.
Essential Bits and bobs:
- Sunglasses, Cat 3 or 4. Goggles an optional extra for windy conditions.
- Sun cream and Lip salve – Factor 30 or more in a little bottle.
- Waterbottle – Plastic wide mouth “Nalgene” type bottles are ideal. Metal sigg style bottles are rubbish. 1ltr is fine, and could be supplemented by a small bottle of sports drink. You can buy hot tea at the huts for summit day (recommended, tasty and it doesn’t freeze!)
- Headtorch – Small Petzl Tikka type torches are great. It will need to be fitted to your helmet.
- Hill food and snacks – Can all be bought in Chamonix or at the huts. We can offer advice on this at the start of the trip and will allow time for shopping.
- Very small personal first aid, for potential blisters. We will have a group first aid kit with us as well.
- Any personal medication, including paracetamol etc.
- Walking pole(s)
- Waterproof rucksack cover for wet huts walks, or stuff sacks for gear.
- Ear Plugs for the hut, Alpine membership card, tooth brush, sleeping bag liner.
Group kit carried by the guide and often shard out amongst the group:
- Emergency Group Shelter
- First Aid kit
- Crevasse rescue kit
- Map & Compass
I hope the above lists make sense. Note the complete lack of luxuries!
We always have a good equipment check before the start of a trip and there is time to go and splash cash in Chamonix if need be.