Scientific volunteering with CREA Mont Blanc (Haute-Savoie)

Duration : 6 days

France, Northern Alps

Level : experienced (5h walking / day, positive elevation from 200 to 800m)

from 442 € / p. from 6 to 8 persons

Infos & Booking


Go for six days around Mont Blanc to contribute to science and learn more about alpine flora and fauna. Follow a researcher and share the daily life of the CREA Mont-Blanc team on its permanent monitoring sites.

One mission: participatory science. You will collect field observations according to the protocols established by our scientists to supplement the data available to the research. You will also be involved in the processing and analysis of these data to discover or deepen the scientific process.

During this stay, you will participate in our flora and fauna monitoring on our permanent study sites. You will not follow a single species but a wide variety of species that make up this exceptional massif.

We will take the time to observe nature in small groups. What we expect from you: rigor and enthusiasm, a commitment to participate in as many observations as possible.

Discover the mountain differently, the eyes sharpened by the practical experience and by rich exchanges with the researchers and hiking guides.

This scientific adventure takes place at altitude. You will spend at least two nights in a hut. The life of scientist is also having breakfast facing Mont Blanc.

The research project:

We study phenology, ie the main seasonal events of the fauna and flora, the evolution of the distribution of species in the massif and the relationships between species, in connection with climatic parameters such as temperature or snow removal.

Your observations will be added to the Atlas du Mont-Blanc, a large cross-border program initiated by CREA Mont-Blanc with Swiss, French and Italian researchers. Your contribution will make a real difference to better understand the adaptation to climate change of mountain ecosystems.

Here is an anthology of protocols and research activities to which you may be invited to participate as needed:

  • Monitoring the reproduction of the black tit (Periparusater) in areas equipped with nesting boxes.
  • Monitoring the yellow-billed clover (Pyrrhocoraxgraculus), banded and monitored for 30 years by CREA Mont-Blanc.
  • Measurement of vegetation green index ("productivity"), crucial when chamois and other ungulates give birth.
  • Analysis of vegetation cover in specific squares.
  • Landscape photo analysis.
  • Creation of new protocols and data visualization modes.


D1: Discovery of mountain research.
See you at 8.30 am at the Observatoire du Mont-Blanc.
Hiking in altitude to discover the climate change issues on mountain landscapes and the work of researchers at the Atlas of Mont Blanc. Discovery of protocols and research questions of the week.
Free dinner (not included).
800m of positive elevation, 5h of walking, night at chosen base camp.

D2: First observations, hike to Loriaz.
Meeting with the CREA Mont-Blanc team at the Observatory for a coffee. Presentation of our association and researchers.
Climb to the Loriaz alp, one of the main study sites of CREA Mont-Blanc at 2000 m altitude. Along the way, first observations and research protocols.
800m E+, 5h walk, night and dinner at the Loriaz refuge where the scientist(s) meet us(s).

D3: Immersion in Loriaz.
Early departure for a day of observations with the researcher(s).
Data analysis at the end of the afternoon and evening, discussion with the researcher (s).
Between 200 and 800m of E+ according to the protocols and the group, night and dinner at the refuge of Loriaz.

D4: Return to base camp.
Early departure for a protocol of listening to birds with the researcher(s).
Back to Chamonix in the morning.
Free afternoon.
See you at 6pm at the Observatory for a convivial cocktail reception with the CREA team.
800m E-, night at chosen base camp.

D5: New explorations.
Day hike in another sector of the massif for new surveys.
Free dinner (not included).
800m E+/- according to the group, night at chosen base camp.

D6: Scientific assessment.
Appointment at 10am at the observatory to finalize data entry.
Debate and scientific report in the afternoon with researcher(s).
The stay will end with a starter at the observatory around 4pm.

The program is highly dependent on the scientific needs of the time, the weather, and the physical condition of the group. The program and sites tracked may therefore vary without notice.

The team:
Depending on their availability, you will have the opportunity to meet several members of our team:

  • Irene Alvarez, hiking guide.
    Also responsible for the programs at CREA Mont-Blanc, I will share with you the life of the association and the challenges of human adaptation to climate change in the mountains.
  • Sandrine Goulmy, hiking guide.
    Naturalist, she will inspire you to take a new look at the mountain as she sees it and lives it every day. She regularly collaborates with CREA Mont-Blanc for field monitoring.
  • Anne Delestrade, researcher.
    Doctor in ecology, she founded the CREA Mont-Blanc in 1996. She studied the social intelligence of the yellow-billed chough for 30 years and is at the origin of the Atlas of Mont Blanc.
  • Christophe Randin, researcher.
    Doctor in Ecology attached to the University of Lausanne. He is curator of the Botanical Gardens of the Canton of Vaud and above all an enthusiast of alpine plants and their biogeography.
  • Marjorie Bison, researcher.
    Doctor in ecology, she is specialized in the diet of chamois, deer and other ungulates. She will take you as much on the ground as in the discovery of the analysis of scientific data.
  • Cédric Dentant, researcher.
    Botanist in the Ecrins National Park, he helps the CREA Mont-Blanc to implement vegetation monitoring as part of an Alpine-wide CNRS project in which you will participate.

The group:
To ensure our safety for access to scientific survey sites, you will be guided in the mountains permanently by a hiking guide certified UIMLA (International Union of Mountain Guides Associations), working in the Mont Blanc massif.
Scientists will be with you in the field for at least two days. During your mission, you will have time to share knowledge, anecdotes and moments of wonder in the mountains.

The price includes

You will be a volunteer at CREA Mont-Blanc. In order to participate in scientific missions, you must become a member of the association and pay a donation of 1300€, or 442€ after tax deduction for people living and working in France. This donation will be used to finance, in part, the preparation of stays in addition to European funding. Only the donation-mission, as a donation to an association, is subject to the tax deduction (up to 66% for the IR and 75% for the ISF).

What the CREA Mont-Blanc supports, partly thanks to your donation-mission:

  • Accommodation in a shelter on Monday evening and Tuesday evening.
  • All meals except dinner on Sunday evening and Thursday evening, free time in Chamonix, and breakfast on Monday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning.
  • The ski lifts for high altitude sites requiring it.
  • One or two certified hiking guide(s) for the entire stay.
  • One to four researchers spread over at least two days.

The price does not include

  • The mandatory membership to CREA Mont-Blanc (20€).
  • Accommodation on Sunday evening, Wednesday evening and Thursday evening.
  • Breakfast on Monday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning.
  • Dinner on Sunday evening and Thursday evening.
  • Drinks and personal expenses (souvenirs ...) as well as snacks in the mountains.
  • Transport to and from Chamonix.
  • Your insurance repatriation, civil liability, health and cancellation.
  • Any service not specified in the heading above (night of Saturday evening or Friday night for example).


Sunday evening, Wednesday evening and Thursday evening, accommodation is your responsibility. You are free to choose your base camp. The CREA team is however committed to helping you as best as possible. We will advise you on the different offers in Chamonix and we can make the reservation for you. You will have to pay the deposit yourself if necessary. Several accommodation options are available in the city of Chamonix according to your budget and your requirements. We suggest two:

  • The Arve Hotel. This hotel *** is located two minutes walk from the pedestrian center of Chamonix. On the banks of the river of the same name, the Hotel de l'Arve is a family establishment which guarantees comfort and quality welcome.
    Price night with breakfast in double room: 110 €.
    Price night with breakfast in single room: 90 €.
  • The Gîte du Vieux Grassonnets. One of the oldest buildings in the Chamonix Valley, Vieux Grassonnet is a typical chalet with undeniable charm. It is managed by the CVM association which proposes moderate prices in order to make the mountain accessible to all. The cottage accommodates up to 20 people in free management, housed in rooms or dormitories depending on availability. However it is possible to have breakfast and / or dinner, on request, at the cottage of new Grassonnet located next door.
    Price night without breakfast: 35 €.
    Compulsory annual subscription to the CVM: 2 € / person.

Second and third nights, Loriaz refuge:
The CREA Mont-Blanc offers you to live the unique experience of two nights in a mountain refuge at an altitude of 2000m. The Loriaz refuge offers basic comfort: hot water but no shower, beds in dormitories (16 people) but under a duvet and heated with wood. The sunset on Mont Blanc and a breakfast on the terrace will compensate for the rudimentary comfort. You will share your dormitory with the CREA Mont-Blanc team: a moment of conviviality guaranteed! Another equivalent refuge may be preferred depending on the scientific needs of the moment and the weather.

Dinner on Sunday evening and Thursday evening are free and at your expense in Chamonix. The Loriaz refuge welcomes you for two dinners of Monday and Tuesday. Next-day breakfasts will also be taken at the refuge, facing Mont Blanc.
Wednesday evening, the CREA Mont-Blanc will organize a cocktail party. Time of meeting and exchange, this evening will still allow you to rest early enough.
Breakfast on Monday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning are your responsibility. Think of the overnight stays with breakfast offered by most hosts. Regarding the lunches, they will be provided, throughout the week, by the local partners of CREA Mont-Blanc in the form of picnics. If you have a specific diet, please let us know when you register.

Next departures :

No scheduled departure, but you can contact me to book your dates.

Infos & Booking