The highest peak in the Alps and the highest in Europe west of the Caucasus peaks in Russia, Mont-Blanc (4,808 m or 15,774 ft) is far from being easy to ascent, especially in bad weather conditions.
This week, two Germans learned this the hard way.
On 23 September 2019, the two mountaineers left Les Houches to try to climb Mont-Blanc, but the second day they found themselves exhausted and blocked by bad weather.
Therefore, they took shelter in the Vallot hut. Located below the Bosses Ridge between the Dome du Gouter and the Mont-Blanc summit, at an altitude of 4,362 m (14,311 ft), the Vallot Hut is an emergency shelter and not a base for ascending Mont-Blanc.
On 25 September 2019, the two Germans were rescued by the high mountain gendarmerie platoon (PGHM) of Chamonix.
However, the bad weather made it impossible for the PGHM to use the helicopter, so the two Germans were taken down to Tête Rousse via a caravan. The Tête Rousse hut is located next to the small Tête Rousse glacier, at an altitude of 3,167 m (10,390 ft), and it is normally reached after a multi-hour climb from Nid d'Aigle, the highest stop on the Mont-Blanc Tramway.
View from the summit of Mont Blanc
The best time to go to Mont-Blanc for hiking and mountaineering is generally mid-June to mid-September.
Responsibletravel.com advises against hiking in May, because snow is melting and might cause rocks and boulders to dislocate. When the snow melts, the resulting water leaks into cracks in the rocks. As temperatures drop overnight, this water often refreezes and expands, which can fracture the rock. When the rock starts to heat up in the morning, the water melts and the fractured rocks can splinter and fall down on climbers (The Mountaineers).
After mid-September, it is not recommended to try to ascent Mont-Blanc, as days are getting shorter and the weather becomes more unpredictable. Also, the huts are open only from mid-June until the first or second week of September, the latest.
Remember that as of 2019, it is mandatory to have a reservation at one of the huts if you want to climb Mont-Blanc.
On the most popular route to climb Mont-Blanc (a.k.a. the Goûter Route), you can make a reservation at the Tête Rousse base camp, Goûter Hut or at the Nid d'Aigle hut.