Summit Mont Blanc 4.810m
“The ascent of any route begins, in dreams at least, the autumn before.
Our minds ring, involuntarily, with the alluring names of mountains, aiguilles, faces and ridges.
Is it the name itself that is so tempting, or the picture we have of the mountain itself,
or does the appeal come from our feeling for the actual process of climbing?
All of us have our reasons, innumerable, personal and complex. From many points of view, a climb is a challenge we must meet...
Self-discovery and discovery of the mountains, the two go together.”
Gaston Rébuffat, The Mont Blanc Massif - The Hundred Finest Routes
What a better way to describe the process of scaling an alpine goal than Gaston Rebuffat’s own words. Just visualising an ascent, from the foothills of the extraordinary Mont Blanc Range to the top of a stunning peak at sunrise is thrilling. Stepping into this world requires courage, training, and a good companion.
The summit of Mt. Blanc is accessible from over 100 routes and thousands of people attempt the ascent each summer.
The five classic routes to the roof of Europe are:
The Normal Route goes through the Nid d'Aigle, Tête Rousse Hut, Arête des Bosses and the Goûter Hut 3.817m, on the first day. In the early hours of the second day, we set off to Mont Blanc. Ideally, we arrive at the summit in the blue dawn light.
The Trois Monts Route is convenient as we take the lift to Aiguille du Midi 3.842m from Chamonix gaining height easily. We spend the night on the Cosmiques Hut 3.613m, enjoying the endless vista towards the Vallée Blanche. We set off early in the next day towards Mont Blanc du Tacul 4.248m, Mont Maudit 4.465m to reach Mont Blanc 4.810m at dawn.
The Grands Mulets Route is mostly familiar among skiers these days, but this was the original route that crystal hunter Jacques Balmat and Doctor Marie-Gabriel Paccard followed in 1786 to first conquer Mont Blanc. Nowadays, we either take the cable car up to Plan de l'Aiguille and walk to La Jonction or walk along the Glacier des Bossons. From there we pass by the Grand Mulets Hut 3.051m, the Petit and Grand Plateau on our way to Mont Blanc.
The Gonella/Pope Route got its name from Pius XI, crowned Cardinal in 1921. One year before, after summiting Mont Blanc, he descended following a route on the south-west face. In this adventurous undertaking in height gain and distance, we climb to the Gonella Hut 3.072m, crossing moraines and crevasses at the Miage Glacier, reach the Piton des Italiens 4.002m and continue on an enduring traverse to the summit.
The Traversée Royale is exactly what the name suggests, a royal north-east traverse from the Contamines Valley to the Aiguille de Bionnassay(4.052m) up to the summit of Mt. Blanc. We will spend the night on the Conscrits Refuge 2.600m and the Durier Refuge 3.369m, depending on conditions. Marie Paradis, the first woman to climb Mont Blanc, followed the technical and committing Miage-Bionnassay Route in 1808 together with Jacques Balmat, his two sons, and Victor and Michel Tairraz.