How and What to Pack for Climb Mont Blanc

December 20, 2019

Before my adventure travel to climb Mont Blanc, I read multiple guides and spoke with many IFMGA guides on how and what to pack for Mont Blanc. The problem is that the majority of guides will not take into consideration your budget and gear you own already. I have tried to adapt and use everything I had to achieve the best outcome and not to spend a small fortune.

The Best Kit To Pack

Online shops and stationery shops i.e. Absolute-snow offer tons of various gear and can offer the best kit to pack for climb Mont Blanc adventure. Problem is that not all kit will suit your individual needs and preferences. Each one of us will have own experiences and each piece of kit may be different. Depending on your plans and budget you can decide on what to pack. How to pack is another task.

The first question I would suggest to answer is to how and if you will use your kit in the future. In case it is one-off and you need to but it only to climb Mont Blanc I will explain why not to invest too much money in it. Potentially you can hire the majority of the kit you may need. There are multiple shops that offer B1, B2, B3 boots, crampons, rucksack and technical climbing kit for hire. That way you can save loads of money and your savings spend either on clothes, which you will use on any adventure travel, or nibbles/drinks during your trip.
You will not need the best kit on the market, but the best kit you can afford or currently own. The best kit to pack is the kit you have tested and you are familiar with. Remember that you will have to know how to use the gear you have!

Don’t spend the money on a kit you will potentially use only once or has been designed for something else, but looks cool. Imagine that you want to but a car. You have to test it before you buy it. Test your kit first if you have a chance and decide based on your individual experience. However if you will use it only once, don’t buy it. Hire it. Guides usually can provide technical kit for a reasonable price, and it will be a good kit because they are using it or used it before. Maybe excluding boots and backpack. In Chamonix, there are plenty of shops that can hire the majority of good quality kit. Save your money on a kit you will use once and spend it on technical clothing that will keep you warm and dry!

What to pack for climb Mont Blanc

What to pack for Mont Blanc? As I have already mentioned above, definitely all kit that you already own and you know how to use it. But how can you possibly know what to pack, if you have not done it before? Please see the list shown below.

Note that I am writing about Climb Mont Blanc, not ski touring kit list or traverse Mont Blanc kit list.

My personal Climb Mont Blanc packing kit list How and what to pack for Mont Blanc

The Technical Kit you MUST have:

  • B2 boots – insulated and rigid boot that will provide sufficient support for your ankles and will keep your feet warm. Also, B2 boots are compatible with B2 boot crampons
  • Crampons – this is another essential part of your technical kit that will allow you to walk on glaciated terrain and they have to fit B2 boots, hence boot crampons either C2 or strap on
  • Ice axe – aluminium CLIMBING ice axe. Steel ice axe or ice climbing ice axe will be also ok, but slightly overkill
  • Harness – lightweight climbing harness. Has to fit your size and be comfortable

  • Carabineer – any CLIMBING carabineer with a screw gate will do

  • Helmet – lightweight CLIMBING helmet

  • Rucksack/backpack – 30L to 40 L will be sufficient, but must have ice axe straps or any other straps that will allow you to strap an ice axe, helmet and crampons when needed. I use Osprey Kode 32L and it was just enough

  • Head torch – good, reliable and tested head torch. Olight is my choice but may be too heavy for others. The reason I have included head torch here is that you must have it to climb Mont Blanc. You will start the day early, still at dark, hence it is an essential piece of kit!

Clothing:

  • Waterproof and windproof Gore-Tex jacket – personally I use Berghaus Extreme collection, water and windproof jacket. This is part of the kit I would not save money on

  • Insulated jacket – an insulated jacket is crucial to keep you warm but has to be highly breathable as well. Synthetic jackets are lightweight and will keep you warm even when they are wet and they also pack small. Again my choice is Berghaus Reversa jacket

  • Mid-layer – the more layers the better! Fleece or technical mid-layer will increase the versatility of your clothing and allow to keep you comfortable in every weather and temperature conditions

  • Top Base-layer – personally I prefer highly breathable, moisture-wicking base layers. Ideally made out of merino wool

  • Waterproof and windproof trousers – this again can be Gore-Tex too keep you dry. My legs are usually warm and I do not need to have insulated trousers

  • Longjohns, bottom base layer – this is my choice. I would rather have shell Gore-tex trousers and longjohns rather than insulated trousers because my legs are often warm

  • A warm hat

  • Pair of gloves for climbing

  • Pair of warm, thick gloves or mitts

  • Buff or balaclava

  • Hiking/trekking socks

  • Quick-drying underwear

  • Running shoes – use them every time when there is no need for B2 boots. You will thank me later

Miscellaneous:

  • Sunglasses – not any sunglasses but at least the lens category 3, which will protect you from snow blindness. I used Melon Optics and there perform great on snow (red mirrored lenses with polarised fitters)

  • Suncream – do not forget this very important piece of kit! The higher you will get, the more UV sun your skin will absorb. Do not burn your skin and use UV50 suncream. Moreover, snow reflects the sunlight so it will burn you quicker

  • Lip balm – ideally with UV filter. Remember to protect your skin

  • sleeping bag liner – silk, light, thin liner which is now complimentary in a lot of mountain huts. Plus this piece of kit will increase your sleep quality and is hygienic

  • Mobile phone/ camera – in case of emergency or to take pictures. Yes, you will take hundreds of pictures and selfies!

  • Power bank – small power bank just in case to keep you going. Most of the huts have electricity and you can charge your devices for free. Note – the higher you will go, the fewer chances of having running water, electricity and other conveniences

  • Noise-cancelling earphones/earplugs – good night sleep is essential to recover each day

  • Book/Kindle – anything that will help you relax in a mountain hut

  • Slippers – huts are usually good with providing slippers/crocks, but make sure that you wear socks. Hygiene first!

  • Water bottle/water bladder – whatever works for you. I prefer a reusable water bottle (Protect Out Winters and limit the plastic waste!). The less moving parts the better

  • Snacks/nibbles/energy bars – your favourite snacks to boost morale and get some energy boost

  • Hiking poles – some love them, some hate them. I have them with me on every adventure

Hygiene and first aid kit

  • Small first aid kit – STRONG painkillers, plasters, blister plasters, tweezers and other bits and bobs for your personal use just in case

  • BLISTER PLASTERS – never enough! Especially if you are planning to hire boots. Compeed brand has a wide range and also they sell Anti-Blister stick – highly recommended (thanks Mom!)

  • Small toiletry kit & biodegradable wet wipes – this is something you have to sort out on your own. Highly likely you will take a toothbrush, small toothpaste. The rest is a matter of preference. I always pack wet wipes (biodegradable are a must – highly recommend Ace Wipes Travel Buddy!), antibacterial gel and a mirror. I almost forgot – toilet paper or tissues!

  • Small quick-drying towel

How to Pack for Mont Blanc Climbing Adventure

Pack light and small. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger your pack is, the more stuff you will take. I often hike in Dartmoor or Lake District using Berghaus Ridgewalk 65L rucksack. This is way too much for a two-day trip. For shorter trips, adventure weekends or snowboarding I use Osprey Kode 32L.

Osprey Kode 32L Osprey Kode 32L

It has a rear-loading system, not the top one which is ideal for me to see all I have with me without a need to unpack everything. I also like all the straps, nets, additional waist pockets and adjustment systems. The combination that allows me to use the pack on the go and packing my kit the way I like. I wouldn’t take it for winter or autumn camping weekend, but for an adventure weekend or Mont Blanc climb is great.

I always pack the heaviest piece of my kit at the bottom of my pack and the lightest at the top. Keeping the weight low and close to your back will help to keep balance and distribute the load properly on your back. First aid kit, biodegradable wet wipes, water and snacks I always keep handy. Either in a jacket’s pocket or external pockets of a backpack. That way If I need to clean my hands, if I feel peckish or have to hydrate, everything is easily accessible. Moreover, my shell Gore-Tex jacket is either under a helmet or in the same place as helmet so I can quickly put it on.

The best practice is to pack your backpack and head out for hiking. This way you will test the weight of the pack, weight distribution and the rucksack on its own. If it feels uncomfortable or you are losing balance now and then maybe you should make some adjustments.

I hope that above guide on how and what to pack on Climb Mont Blanc will help you pack for your trip.

The last but not least is that you will stay in a hotel in the valley anyway so you can bring all the kit you have in another rucksack or bag and leave it in a hotel’s storage room if needed. This way you can change the kit you carry each time you are in a hotel.

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