Mont Blanc is one of those places to have floating around in the future destination bank. A little far afield, definitely; not exactly your weekender to the local hills.
Australia peaks out at 2,228m with Kosciuszko – an absolute epic in its own right, capable of producing some crazy experiences such as those depicted in Dan Slater’s recount. But for those seeking to attain yet higher heights again, who are understandably petrified of the likes of Everest, the 4,807 metre Mont Blanc in the French Alps might be a great option.
Why do we always need to step it up, taking on larger and larger challenges? It’s a question that could riddle your brain into insanity. But there’s no doubt that when you find yourself in the Chamonix Valley, looking up at the massive dome of Mont Blanc that dwarfs all of the actually quite giant mountains around it, you’ll feel some sort of headstrong, stop-at-no-cost determination. So says GM of Adventure Consultants, Suze Kelly.
Her company offers a guided expedition, in small groups with just one guide and two participants. Fortunately, they don’t send you up there cold; it’s about preparing and acclimatising for the summit, then measuring out your energy to ensure your goal is attained.
“We acclimatise by climbing a smaller peak first, then you come back and sleep in low in the Chamonix Valley, back in the hotel for the night, and then you head up onto the mountain and try and climb Mont Blanc over three days,” she says.
“You’re looking at a real endurance challenge. [On summit day] you’re looking at a 12 hour climb. There’s not many other activities that take that much time and present that much challenge, but with the right amount of training and good knowledgeable guides keeping you safe, then it’s doable.”
“It’s quite a big trip to do, but it really is a great achievement, if you actually get to the top and back. There’s an overall feeling of accomplishment that people are looking for that they achieve when they summit a peak like Mont Blanc.”