Mont Blanc

Expedition to the Mont Blanc (the Birthplace of Alpinism)

This is a must of all mountain enthusiasts: to climb the tallest Peak in the Alps, where the noble sport of alpinism was born in the late XVIII century.

We owe the invention of alpinism to Bénédict de Saussure, who, in 1760, offered a reward to whoever was able to find a route to the summit of the Mont Blanc. During the following 26 years, several expeditions failed, until, finally, on August 8th 1786, Michel Paccard and Jacques Balmat reached the top of Monte Bianco. Saussure himself will stand on top of Mont Blanc only a year later.

Mont Blanc (4,808 m.) is located between France and Italy. The normal route is relatively simple, although rather long, so we need to be in great physical form and also take a couple of days to acclimatize before going for the summit. This route is known as Le Goûter.

  • Plastic Double boots (or equivalent)
  • Trail running shoes
  • Sock Liners
  • Wool or synthetic thick mountaineering socks
  • Gaiters
  • Lightweight underwear, tops and bottom
  • Expedition weight underwear, tops and bottom
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Insulating layers, i.e. fleece vest and fleece jacket
  • Fleece pants or wind proof climbing pants
  • Pants windproof, waterproof and breathable (preferably Gore Tex)
  • Gore Tex parka
  • Balaclava
  • Sun Hat
  • Mountaineering gloves
  • Glacier Glasses or sunglasses with side shields
  • Storm Goggles
  • Clothes for wearing off the mountain (4 days)
  • Plastic Double boots (or equivalent)
  • Trail running shoes
  • Sock Liners
  • Wool or synthetic thick mountaineering socks
  • Gaiters
  • Lightweight underwear, tops and bottom
  • Expedition weight underwear, tops and bottom
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Insulating layers, i.e. fleece vest and fleece jacket
  • Fleece pants or wind proof climbing pants
  • Pants windproof, waterproof and breathable (preferably Gore Tex)
  • Gore Tex parka
  • Balaclava
  • Sun Hat
  • Mountaineering gloves
  • Glacier Glasses or sunglasses with side shields
  • Storm Goggles
  • Clothes for wearing off the mountain (4 days)
  • Mountaineering Ice Axe
  • Crampons
  • Trekking Poles
  • Head lamp and replacement batteries
  • Sunscreen and Lip balm (SPF 30 as a minimum)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Reading material, and/or small portable chess set
  • Camera and extra battery
  • Backpack (8¡50 litres minimum)
  • Duffel bags (with locks)
  • 2 One-litter wide mouth water bottles-VERY IMPORTANT! Make sure to bring bottles for our hikes above base camp)
  • toothbrush/toothpaste and toiletries, including hand sanitizer
  • sleeping bag rated –5º C or lower
  •  

Itinerary

We fly to Geneve (Switzerland), and drive to the beautiful valley of Chamonix, in France. We set our tents in a downtown camping site, where alpinists from all over the world meet. The ambiance of comradeship is great, and lots of useful information gets exchange, as climbing parties come and go all the time. Chamonix is also the starting point for many other classical routes of the Alps, such as the Grandes Jorasses, Dent de Géant, etc. The view is awesome: a steep wall covered with trees rises in front of us for one thousand meters. Higher up, the impressive mountain range of the Alpes, awaits us, surrounded by occasional clouds. Chamonix itself is charming, a global community where you’ll hear French, British English, Italian, Spanish in every corner or table; you’ll run into Japonese, Americans and Slavs from all over Europe.

We eat for breakfast the typical “tartines” (baguette with butter) and a café-au-lait, drive to Les Houches, and take a cable car to Bellevue. There we hop on the Tramway du Mont Blanc, which takes us to the “Eagle’s Nest”, at about 1,900 meters. We then march for three hours and reach Tête Rousse, a comfortable alpine hut, at 3,200 m. The sights at sundown are spectacular.

The following day, we traverse the Grand Coloir, also known as the “Bowling Alley”, and climb to the next hut, Le Goûter (4,000 meters). The last section is technical, and we will secure ourselves to the fixed copper lines that accompany us during the last 300 meters.

Summit day! We rise around 2am, rope up, and begin several miles of ascent through the glacier in the darkness. Sunrise will catch us while we traverse the long and narrow arête de Les Bosses, with no less that 600 meters. At the end, the roof of Europe! With one foot in Italy and the other in France, we take our traditional summit picture.

Two hours later we reach Le Goûter, have a warm meal and tea, In less than four hours we take the train to Saint Gervais. That night, we enjoy a celebration dinner in Chamonix. Mission accomplished!

Flight back, or leisure strolls in Chamonix

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