Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mont Blanc Winter ascent

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in western Europe at 4810m. It is surrounded on all sides by vast glaciers that reach out to the valleys below. The mountain and the massif that shields its gleaming white dome is the most important mountain upland in the history of Alpinism. It captured the imagination of the worlds best climbers and to date holds the greatest concentration of alpine routes in the world.

Every year people are attracted to the peak that is Mont Blanc, not because of its aesthetic shape, but its height. Hunderds make the pilgrimage to the summit, in some cases waiting in queue to reach the top. For me this detracts from the mountain experience. To climb Mont Blanc in winter would be a worthy challenge. So the plan was put together to get a strong group of lads that where realistic and ambitous. The team would consist of Alex,Lucas,Tomek and myself. Three Polish and one Irishman. Great combination!

We would carry all supplies up the mountain, in all our backpacks combined would weigh about 120kgs. One could call the trip a mini expedition of sorts. The plan was to camp our way to the top in around four to five days. We climbed the Gouter ridge route, which is by far the most popular way of ascent in the summer. We did it in four and half with three days coming down. The weather was perfect for the whole trip and we had blue skies and starry nights. Due to such conditions the temperature plummeted to well below -30 once above the Gouter hut. Climbing in such temperatures proved challenging. Simple tasks like using zips and buttons became ordeals not to mention going to the toilet!

Each morning started with several teas and museli. This was followed by heating ones boots and socks. The final night was spent in the Vallot hut where the temperature dropped to -37.

The summit day consisted of climbing the Bosses ridge. On one side France the other Italy.Two very proud nations sharing a very noble massif. The summit views were amazing, one could see from the Bernese Oberland to the Ecrins Massif almost the full span of the northern Alps!

The trip was a success because it was well planned and we had a good solid team. The weather was on our side from the start. Good humour was our main form of communication and we always carried the idea that the summit would be a bonus rather then fact!

Go on the boys!

1 comment:

  1. hi,
    may you please let me know exactly the spots where you camped on the way up and on the way down, are some of the lifts open and helping to cut some of the road before Tete Rousse?