/ Mt Blanc with child
I've taken my daughters up Alpine Peaks at fairly young ages. 8 years old ascending the Index, 10 years old on the Aig Tour and Petite Verte, 16 years old on the Tour Ronde.
I've done Mont Blanc myself, but would not take a child under 16 up there.
Mont Blanc is a long slog. Still, if the weather is ideal and acclimatization runs well I may take my daughter up teh Gouter route this August. However, she will be 14 by then and it will be her fourth 4k summit.
Don´t forget, if it is only you and your daughter you are effectively soloing but with added responsibility. If it has to be a 4k peak, why not Gran Paradiso? I did this with my daughter in 2010, and it is one of the few 4k summits I feel confident soloing with a child.
Aged 9 my daughter did the Austrian side of Zugspitze plus a few hiking 3k peaks in Austria and Italy. Probably more appropriate than MB for most children.
That aside, I once met an ultra-fit 10 year old girl at the Margharita hut who had easily beat our ascent time (not carrying a pack and in a group of six including her guide dad).
If you're worried by the altitude side of it, I guess one of the most informed people is Dr J-P Herry at ENSA. You might try contacting him - nothing to lose. I'll email you an address.
Don't do it on a slow news day or you'll be in danger of getting lynched!
Did the route from the Cosmiques hut. Scared the wits out of me! The objective dangers are huge. The comment above about soloing it is very apt. Where's your backup if things go a bit south?
There's more to the Alps than Mt Blanc. I'm not sure if this will be very enjoyable (or doable) for a nine year old with only a week up high.
I take at least two weeks for the white lady.
Good luck kid!
Then you can decide whether the risks are acceptable.
I wouldn't take mine at that age. Plenty of other challenges at the relevant level in my view, but its up to you to make the right decision for you.
I've seen this discussed on a French forum and the medical opinion was said to be bit negative for young children, some even mentioned a risk of brain damage, but as on all forums opinions differed. I would advise getting a qualified opinion.
On the practical level have you done anything nearing this length of climb at any altitude to see how he gets on - at this age he can't really make an informed judgement... It's a big name peak but most people do it for the tick more than anything else, it'll still be there when he's older.
Maybe you could phone the Chamonix guides office and ask them if they will take you both up the climb? If they refuse I'm sure you could get them to explain why and maybe point you towards a medical specialist? If they accept and give you the price it would at least give you the information that it wasn't crazy, you wouldn't be engaged to take a guide and giving advice is part of their job :-)
> Then you can decide whether the risks are acceptable.
> I wouldn't take mine at that age.
The point about Mont Blanc is there are known objective dangers on all routes and people are killed every season by them. There are plenty of other routes in the Alps that do not have the same level of objective danger.
Exactly! Due to lower body mass children are much more sensitive to cold and exposure when things turn bad.
This is why I would only ever consider taking my daughter up the Gouter route in PERFECT weather, although she clearly has shown on other, safer mountains that she has sufficient climbing skills and stamina.
I know no reputable guide who would bring a 10 uear old client on Mt. Blanc, and even lower 4000 wpild require some serious thought about acclimatization and training. MB is a near 5000m with substantially objective danger and strenuous if maybe non technical normal routes. And to be honest, I don't see how a 10 years old child could possibly enjoy that slog!
If you wamt to introduce your child to MB, the best choice is to climb Petit Mont Blanc, a 3400m non technical climb in a majestic but safe setting on the Italian side. It"s a very wild place but has very little objective danger, and a final snow ridge and a bit of scrambling overlooking the Miage face of Mt. Blanc. Strongly suggested!!
Thanks for the recommendation, that´s sounds like something I might try with my 10y old son!
Some years ago I did a traverse of the Weissmies in ideal weather with a friend and his son aged 12. He was a capable lad who had done quite a bit of rock climbing, and Scottish winter climbing and walking. The Weissmies - which though a 4000-er, is 80 metres lower than Mt Blanc - worked out fine, but I would not have wanted to be with anyone younger or on a harder route at this altitude. You should be much, much less ambitious. Apart from anything else, you risk putting her off for good. Have you though about via ferrata?
> Thanks for the recommendation, that´s sounds like something I might try with my 10y old son!
1) Avoid climbing it during summet weekends, so you'll have the summit and in particular the bivy hut below (Bivacco Rainetto - Giovane Montagna) all for yoi. During weekends there may be some local traffic
2) Plan to climb it on twp days, the first to go to the bivy hut (3 hours) and the second for the wummit (another 90 minutes). Make sure to wake up soon enough to watch the sunrise!
3) Bring water and make sure to wear helmets during the walk in. There's normally wildlife near the bivy, gorgeous to see, but they it provoke small but dangerous rockfall
Mad as a box of frogs to take a nipper of that age straight up.
Unless already done, a bunch of the UK tallest should be climbed then moving onto 2000, 2500, 3000 etc in stages.
My reply above had a bad case of mispelling! Here we go again:
1) Avoid climbing it during summer weekends, so you'll have the summit and in particular the bivy hut below (Bivacco Rainetto - Giovane Montagna) all for you. During weekends there may be some local traffic
2) Plan to climb it on two days, the first to go to the bivy hut (3 hours) and the second for the summit (another 90 minutes). Make sure to wake up soon enough to watch the sunrise!
3) Bring water and make sure to wear helmets during the walk in. There's normally wildlife near the bivy, gorgeous to see, but it may provoke small but dangerous rockfall
Hi Luca, thanks for the advice!
Last time I was in the area we were staying at a campground in Valsavaranche (the nice, lower one, not the one up at the parking lot in Pont).
Might go there again, but how do the camp sites near Courmayeur compare? I am looking for something clean and quiet.
Two days would be the plan, anyway. I love being on summits at sunrise!
"La Sorgente" in Val Veny is excellent. Very nice position below the Aiguille Noire, very good staff and facilities, very clean and well run. The owner is a young local guide (Matteo) who speaks four languages and is very helpful with people who wnt to climb in the area
It's now becoming a popular spot for climbing groups so you're likely to find fellow Brits there (but it's not a chaotic or cramped place)
See this photo - we had fun...make it fun
> See this photo - we had fun...make it fun
Toula is another good option, but is a bit more technical than Petit MB. Good second step, however
I was not the OP asking about taking a nine year old child up MB. Instead, I argued against it.
However, I admitted that under perfect conditions I would consider taking my 14 year old daughter, who has already gathered plenty of experience (for her age) on mountains in the 3k to lower 4k range. Of course the weather would have to be perfect, I wouldn´t do it alone, there would have to be other, experienced adult climbers, etc...
There is no way I would take my son (who will be 10 in summer) onto anything remotely as big and objectively dangerous. Petite MB looks like a good outing for my son, and would give me a glimpse at conditions on the Miage side. I have been dreaming about the Tournette spur since quite a while....
Why the rush? He's only nine; MB isn't going anywhere.
If he is really keen to do it, get him to prove his keenness, ability and robustness by bagging lower (and safer) alpine peaks over the next few years.
And slogging up MB is no fun, so you'd probably put him off Alpinism for life.
Take note of the experienced posters on here!
You'll definitely have a chance to take a look on that - here's the view from the summit of PMB
> Why the rush? He's only nine; MB isn't going anywhere.
> If he is really keen to do it, get him to prove his keenness, ability and robustness by bagging lower (and safer) alpine peaks over the next few years.
The keenness comes from him. Not me. The other thought in his head is to do Kilimanjaro.
Keenness does not equal the reality of actually doing it, especially for a kid.
(My boys are keen to be be Luke Skywalker at the moment....)
Like I said, MB isn't going anywhere. Ambitions can last a lifetime and don't need immediate fulfilling. In fact they may even be sweeter with some waiting...."I've been waiting to do this since I was Nine!"
I also think it could be pretty unfair to put the additional responsibility of having a child along on the other members of the party, especially if they are fulling their own ambitions on MB. What if the conditions are good and the keenness suddenly wanes half way up - how is the group going to deal with it? Would it be right for them to continue and let you descend with a child?
All valid points.
But please remember, I am being responsible, by asking the question to those that know much more than me. That is the whole point of asking a question to find out the answer and then act on it. Why would I ask the question in the first place unless I wanted answers from more experienced people and planned to listen? The other reason I asked was because Theo asked be to, and he has read the responses. This has helped him form his own views, rather than me just saying, No!
At the time of asking all I knew from the web was that it has been climbed by kids of that age, but had no idea how common this was (it now seems not to be, unless you are French).
PS. If we were to do it, and this now seems very, very, unlikely, the rest of the team (except me) would all have done MB many, many times. Nor would it be his first 4000m peak as he would have had to show to me he was happy on some of the much easier just 4000'ers.
There are many great adventures to be had in the Alps. Perhaps Mont Blanc even for a competent 8 year old is a bit much. It will still be there in a few years time.
> The keenness comes from him. Not me. The other thought in his head is to do Kilimanjaro.
I am pretty sure there is an age limit on Kilimanjaro, and for the cost and the effort, its well worth waiting until he is much older!
Thanks Chris. Cool list.
I thought Dôme de Neige des Ecrins was about the easiest 4000 going, but it doesn't even make their lowest cat. for difficulty. Helen thought Ben Nevis last week was harder.
Although not so technical Kilimanjaro is alot Higher, I felt ill from altitude.
Research Altitude and children
The petite Mont Blanc was suggested and indeed I would second it as a possibility. It still requires good acclimatisng (a friend of mine had to go gone after getting headaches, his first few days in the area) but is objectively safe and satisfying. There could be a short scramble on the summit over some choss.
Follow link to the view
P.s. I would not recommend continuing up l'Aiguille de Tré la Tête
> The petite Mont Blanc was suggested and indeed I would second it as a possibility. It still requires good acclimating (a friend of mine had to go gone after getting headaches, his first few days in the area) but is objectively safe and satisfying. There could be a short scramble on the summit over some choss.
If one stays in the area, a couple of hikes to easy places like Mt. Fortin (2700m) or the Estelette Bivy Hut (2900m) will be enough for a satisfying acclimatization for Petit Mont Blanc.
> P.s. I would not recommend continuing up l'Aiguille de Tré la Tête
Definitely not recommended with a child!
I couldn't find anything in English that was very conclusive nor relevant to the particular problem concerned so I tried in French, finding first a thread very similar to this one then an article that seemed more useful:
Basically the conclusions at the bottom say:
• Below 1500 meters: no special precautions.
• 1 500-2 500 meters: little or no risk of MAM, but modification of respiratory capacity and performance. Standard precautions for young children against the cold, sun and pressure.
• From 2 500 to 3 500 meters: vulnerability to oxygen depletion and risk of first MAM, with only a third of the level of oxygen from sea level ​​to 3000 meters. Gradual acclimatization necessary to 300 meters per day between two nights for children, full night on site recommended for children under 10 years.
• 3 500 to 4 500 meters: the high mountain area of risk, MAM. Suitable only for adolescents over 12 years acclimated.
• 4 500-5 500 meters : MAM omnipresent risk. Only suitable for adolescents over 15 years and well prepared who followed a rigorous protocol for acclimatization.
• Beyond 5500 meters: high danger zone where life is not permanent. Not suitable for children or adolescents.
The rest of the article translates quite readably with google toolbar. So they would put the limit at years old for Mont Blanc. Obviously it's only a suggestion and younger children have got to the top of Mont Blanc, on the other hand we only hear about those who succeed :-)
However, in both cases the ground was basically non glaciated so the technical aspects of our routes were not relevant ie no crevasses etc. for them to fall into or for them to be faced with the problem of an adult ahead or behind who falls in a slot.
Does your child want to climb MB or just have a go at a big snowy mountain?
A figure got lost in the wash: Last para should contain.
"So they would put the limit at 15 years old for Mont Blanc."
The other factor to consider in relation to the under 15s is time spent at altitude. It (usually or 'always'?) takes more than 12 hours, usually up to 24hrs for the effects of altitude to accumulate and for altitude sickness (or worse) to develop.
Hence hundreds of people don't get ill on Aig du Midi in the cafe, or an 11 year old on Pete Mt Blanc is (likely to be) OK because the hut is lowish and the peak is 3.5k approx. Mt Blanc needs an overnight stop at high altitude, which gives time for problems to develop.
I seem to remember quite large numbers of tourists flaked out all over the place, not to mention the occasional priviledged one that gets put in a special cable car, with added oxygen to get them down.
Thanks Bruce, very helpful.
He wants to do MB. However, he isn't going to get the chance unless he is willing to do other smaller snowy things first.
I have to say that some years ago I did seven 4000ers, including Lyskam E and Dufourspitz from the Signalkuppe, with a 13 year old boy. He was by far one of the steadiest people I've balanced along narrow snow ridges with. The following year we did two more 4000ers and then managed to get to the Solvay on the Hornli before too much snow turned us back. Of course weighing as little as he did might have been a problem on a crevassed glacier, but in fact there was another adult on the other end of the rope. I think, as with adults, not all 13 year olds are the same... and then there's a world of difference between a 13 year old and a 9 year old.
Any attempt to climb up even a slight slope would reduce most of them to paroxisms of breathlessness.
I've often encountered head spinning and a sickening feeling in the stomach at the Aiguille de Midi teleferique... but that was when the told me the price :-)
Has he done Ben Nevis ?
Many young kids can climb hard grades but it's the length of time do do these routes that will be the problem.
Yes, in winter, unfortunately in shit conditions so he didn't get any views, but only via the Tourist Path.
He has been VF'ing since he was 4. Done several 800ft rock routes. Many 3-day treks in the Alps with a tent. Camped in the snow in the UK often. Climbs F6a indoors. Done various 1000m assents in the Alps to huts, then short walks or scrambles to summits.
This month he is planning on a 26mile one day walk across Dartmoor, which should with luck put him off the Mont Blanc idea completely.
Your second day "summit day" is going to be around 14hrs long. Is your 9 year old capable of a 14hr plus day ? You will find lots of hiking around the Midi half way station, or head down to the Mer de Glace. As for young children climbing Mont Blanc , I have never seen any above 13000ft.
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