Mont Blanc travel advice

Gear advice
Chloe Knott is Mont Blanc and all round alpine expert at Exodus, our leading supplier in the area. She gives great Mont Blanc travel advice having hiked those hills, and climbed those cols many a time.

Gear advice

“Wear boots with ankle support and, if you have bad knees, take walking poles. I am definitely a two pole girl. I wouldn't do a trek without them now. I have seen so many people with knackered knees that I think it is better to use them now and then not have knackered knees later."
“Always pack good waterproofs, a hat and gloves even in summer, as it can get windy and cold at some of the cols. In summer some people still make the mistake of thinking they can do Mont Blanc in a pair of trainers because it’s warm and sunny, but you still need the rigidity of a stronger soled boot and the ankle support. A CamelBak water pouch is great, as you can top up at natural springs or at mountain huts.”
Packing tips

Packing tips

“On all trips, you need to take some comfortable shoes for the evening , when you will really want to just put on some jogging bottoms and comfortable shoes. Take a good book."
“If you have a metal Sigg water bottle, at the end of the season when it is getting colder, you can fill it with hot water at night, put it in a sock and use it as a hot water bottle in. I learned that one at Everest Base Camp - it was a life saver!”
Training tips

Training tips

“Always read the trip notes that accompany your trip, as they will give good guidance on how fit you need to be. We find that women tend to underestimate and men overestimate their abilities. If you are doing a moderate walking trip, you want to be doing a good five hour walk every weekend on varied terrain. And do this every weekend for about three months before your trip, upping the amount of walking you do each weekend. For a challenging trip, do a challenging walk at weekends, but also some cardiovascular workouts two or three times a week. So about an hour in the gym, with 20 mins on treadmill and twenty minutes cross trainer, for example, and then some core exercises too. All for about three months before you go.“
Camping advice
Eric Lasserre, proMONT-BLANC, an organization that seeks to protect the Mont Blanc massif, gives his advice on camping and safety in the mountains:

Camping advice

“Wild camping is not permitted at high altitude generally, and sleeping is only allowed in the mountain refuges. You aren’t allowed to build fires either. There are people who try it, but it is not allowed. It is policed, but there is still a strong feeling of civil responsibility, so you don’t have the feeling of being ‘watched’ everywhere. You can camp bivouac style, however, but under the condition that you put up your tent at nightfall and have taken it down by sunrise. You can’t ban the bivouac.”
Safety advice

Safety advice

“In the Chamonix valley alone there are 130 avalanches corridors. So, if you are going off piste snowshoeing or skiing, or even hiking, you need to be aware of this, as it is likely you will cross one of them. Avalanches can often last up until the month of May with big springtime avalanches, so you need to be wary of avalanche warnings. Even if there is no snow where you are walking.”

Health & safety


Treat altitude with respect. Although most hikes along the Tour du Mont Blanc do not have altitude issues, if you are tackling the ascent to the summit, altitude sickness is a strong possibility. Experts recommend three nights spent at an altitude above 2,500/3,000m before ascending to the summit of Mont Blanc. It does not matter how fit you are, or how many times you’ve been at high altitudes before – the symptoms are unpredictable, and the only real cure is descending. Dehydration makes altitude sickness worse – you need to drink much more at high altitudes. Stay warm. In the Mont Blanc massif, the temperature decreases from 0.33 to 0.91°C every 100 m in elevation. And on top of this you have the windchill. So, at the summit, for example, a temperature of -15°C without wind corresponds to -30°C with a 60km/h wind. Be aware of frostbite on your fingers, toes, face and cornea, although if conditions are that bad, you probably shouldn’t be up there. More likely is ignoring the risk of sunburn and sunstroke, even in cold weather. Always wear sunscreen, hat and mountaineering sunglasses when necessary. Consult your doctor or travel clinic before travel – they may be able to prescribe antibiotics and antidiarrhoeal medication to take with you, as well as recommending other items such as antihistamines, rehydration salts and medication for altitude sickness which you can take with you.


When possible, go trekking or climbing with the help of an International Mountain Leader (IML) – responsible tourism companies will use one of these super qualified guides on Mont Blanc The emergency number in Europe is 112. In and around the Mont Blanc massif, mountain rescue operations are carried out by the Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute-Montagne (PGHM Chamonix), based in Chamonix. The Office de Haute Montagne in Chamonix is an invaluable source of information on conditions, weather, current risks and issues and generally how to stay safe in the mountains. If you are planning on climbing high up into the snow-covered terrain of Mont Blanc, you will need all the proper equipment as well as training. Such as a probe, a shovel and emergency beacons. Don’t hike immediately after a storm, as this is often when avalanches occur. Always check the avalanche forecast. There can be avalanches even as late as May, so you need to be switched on. There might not be snow where you are walking but, if there is a big melt higher up, it can travel down the valley. Avoid the really steep slopes if you can. Slopes pitched less than 25 degrees are safest, while 30 to 45 degree slopes are most avalanche-prone. If you are walking on glaciers, you need to be wary of ‘seracs’ or pinnacles of ice that develop which can melt and fall when the weather starts to warm up.

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Mont Blanc tips from our travelers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.
We have selected some of the most useful Mont Blanc travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
Bring a sheet bag for sleeping in the huts
- John Hehir
"Make sure you are fit and take a t shirt just in case there are some hot days. Can recommend the natural spa in Toulouse to revive the muscles" - John Knapper on our snowshoeing vacation in Chamonix

Be fit and have the right equipment for 7-hour walks in the snow. Leave your angst behind and be ready to conquer peak after peak in each of the five walks" – Gabriel Decio on our snowshoeing vacation in Chamonix

"If you fly in from outside of Europe, consider arriving a few days earlier, stay in Chamonix area and warm yourself up with some small day-hiking trip. I travelled 24 hours to arrive in the evening before the trek started, and felt tired even before starting walking. Better spare some time to adjust" - Pranitee Swangvudthitham
Be fit and have the right equipment for 7-hour walks in the snow. Leave your angst behind and be ready to conquer peak after peak in each of the five walks.
- Gabriel decio
"Physical fitness is indeed a thing one has to have... the views are so much nicer if you don't need to suffer during the hikes" – Peter Koopmans

"We decided to have two rest days, one in Courmayeur and one in Champex. It was a very good decision. There is lots to do in Courmayeur and Champex is a very charming little town. Although three of us hiked to La Cabane d'Orny on the extra day in Champex, but most were happy to have a bit of a rest, treat their blisters and sore muscles. Unless you belong to the very young, I would recommend some rest in between in order to do the whole tour in comfort." – Elizabeth Kirchhoff on our Mont Blanc self-guided walking vacation
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: ptwo] [Chloe Knott: Exodus Travels] [Gear advice: simonsimages] [Packing tips: Heather Cowper] [Training: E'Lisa Campbell] [Camping: Heather Cowper] [Safety: TRAILSOURCE.COM] [Health and safety: Benjamin Gamblin] [Review introduction: NKBV] [Review 1 - John Hehir: Nicolas Vigier] [Review 2 - Gabriel Decio: Masa Sakano]