Mont Blanc (4810 m)
Selection of 8 Routes - Alps, France
Panorama of Mont Blanc du Tacul, Mont Maudit, Mont Blanc (in the clouds), Dome du Gouter in winter (© A. Gatta)
The Mont Blanc Massif
is a mountain range in the Alps.
The Massif is located in France (Chamonix, Haute-Savoie), Italy (Courmayeur, Aosta Valley), and Switzerland (Valais).
is the highest peak in the Massif with an elevation of 4810 m (15,774 feet).
Philippe presents a selection of routes that he has climbed in the Massif.
Those routes are showed in the following pages:
Fantastic and committed route.
Walter Bonatti, Andrea Oggioni, Pierre Mazeau, Roberto Gallieni, Robert Guillaume, Pierre Kohlman and Antoine Vieille tried to make the first ascent in July 1961 which ended in tragic way with the death of 4 of them. The first successful ascent was made by C. Bonington, I. Glough, J. Duglosz and D. Whillans, 27-29 August 1961, and R. Desmaison, P. Julien, I. Piussi, Y. Pollet-Villard 28-29 August 1961.
Full story of Philippe's solo ascent of Central Pillar of Frêney
Central Pillar of Frêney seen from the Innominata (© P. Gatta)
The Peuterey ridge
is a amazing route located in the Italian side of Mont Blanc
First ascent: M. Herzog, G Rebuffat and L. Terray, August 1944.
There are several options with different starts.
The longest which is called the "Integral of Peuterey
" starts in the Val Veny and consists in climbing the Aiguille Noire
, the Dames Anglaises, Aiguille Blanche
, the Pilier d'Angle
to the Mont Blanc of Courmayeur
and then till Mont Blanc
It is also possible to start from the Fourche hut
and climb either the Aiguille of Peuterey
or the Col of Peuterey
(which Philippe did in solo).
Grade: D / 3 / IV. 60° max. Integrale: TD+ / 3 / 5c / VI
Peuterey ridge, Mont Blanc (© P. Gatta)
Day 1: start either from Aiguille du Midi
or the Pointe Helbronner
(faster). Join the Fourche hut
The tiny hut is located in the cirque Maudit, at the col de la Fourche.
Day 2: abseil from the hut to the Brenva glacier
. Cross the glacier toward col Moore
Be careful to the crevasses and ice falls, especially coming from the couloir Gussfeld
It takes around 45 minutes to reach the col Moore
depending on the snow condition.
From the col Moore
, go down on the other side of the Brenva glacier
toward the Grand Pilier d'Angle
The descent requires a few abseils and climb down in a roten rocks or snow. One has to cross several large rimayes.
All this part is dangerous with many serac falls.
Cross till the bottom of the Aiguille Blanche's
face, be careful to the rock falls coming from the Pilier d'Angle
Pass the large rimayes and climb either the face or the Col to the right.
Pass the seracs by the right.
Join and follow the ridge to the top of the Aiguille Blanche
, pass its summit and abseil to the Col of Peuterey
From the Col, join the bottom of the Pilier d'Angle
Climb either the Eccles couloir
if it’s in good condition, or climb the ‘easy” rocks and snow of the Pilier d’Angle.
On top of the Pilier, follow the ridge to the Mont Blanc de Courmayeur
, then the Col Major
and ultimately the Mont Blanc
The following photos show the ridge seen from various places.
Aiguille Blanche of Peuterey, Grand Pilier
d'Angle Mont Blanc de Courmayeur, Mont Blanc
Brenva glacier (© P. Gatta)
Aiguilles Noire, Dames Anglaises, Aiguille Blanche, Pilier d'Angle (© P. Gatta)
The ridge from the top of Grand Pilier d'Angle to Mont Blanc de Courmayeur (© P. Gatta)
Mont Maudit and Kuffner ridge (© P. Gatta)
The Red Sentinel
is another great route of the Italian side of Mont Blanc
First ascent: T. G. Brown and F. S. Smythe, September 1927.
Like the Major
and Brenva Spur
, the route starts from the Fourche hut
Join the col Moore
(see above), then pass left side of the col and follow the climb to the left.
Go toward the red Sentinel
(red tower of Granit easy to spot).
Go to left and climb the long slope. There are a few options on the top to pass the serac.
The route is quite exposed to serac falls.
Grade: D+ / 60° max / rock III
South side of Mont Blanc (© P. Gatta)
The Brenva Spur
might be the "easiest" route of the Italian side of Mont Blanc
First ascent: GS. Mathews, F. and H. Walker, AW. Moore, J. and M. Anderegg, July 1865.
Like the Red Sentinel
and the Major
, it starts from the Fourche hut
There are several options in the bottom and the top of the route.
In the bottom, join either the col Moore
(see above), then pass on the left and climb the steps of rock or snow.
Or, climb the step Gussfeld couloir
which is exposed to the seracs.
Either way, follow the ridge till the upper seracs. There are 3 options to climb the seracs: 1) avoid them by the left, 2) go straight up with a few short and vertical climbs, 3) avoid the seracs by the right, easier but more exposed.
Join and follow the route of the 3 Monts Blancs
Grade: D / 3 / IV. 60° max.
Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)
Upper section of the Brenva Spur in 2013 (© P. Gatta)
Photo taken from the Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)
Climbing the Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)
The 3 Mont Blancs
can be done either back and forth from the Cosmiques hut
, or as a traverse on the way down.
It can be skied early in the season.
First ascent: R. W. Head, J. Grange, A. Orset and J-M. Perrod, August 1863.
From the Aiguille du Midi
, go down toward the Col du Midi
and reach the Cosmiques hut
From the hut, cross the col du Midi
and climb up the North face Mont Blanc du Tacul
(several rimayes and crevasses).
Just before the top of Tacul (4075 m) go straight to the col Maudit
Climb up the slopes of Mont Maudit
going right to join the Col Maudit
The rimaye can be difficult to pass.
From there, go to the col de la Brenva
and follow by the mur de la Côte to the top of Mont Blanc
Grade: PD+ / III.
Aiguille du Midi, Mont Blanc du Tacaul, Mont Maudit, Mont Blanc, Dome and Aiguille du Gouter (© P. Gatta)
Full moon on Mont Blanc and the lights of Chamonix (© P. Gatta)
Brenva Col and Maudit (© P. Gatta)
North face of Mount Maudit (© P. Gatta)
The Bosses Ridge
is one of the most popular routes to Mont Blanc
First ascent: JM. Couttet and F. Cuidet, September 1784.
It can be accessed by the Houches
in the Chamonix
valley or from Saint Gervais
Either way, one have to go to the Nid d'Aigle
From the Nid d'Aigle
, follow the trail to the Tête Rousse hut
(3167 m, ~2 h).
From the hut, go up and join the left side of the Grand Couloir, cross it, then join and follow the Spur up to the Gouter hut
(3820 m, 2-3 h from Tête Rousse).
It is best to climb very early in the morning and be careful to the rock falls and avalanches.
From the hut, reach and follow the ridge.
Climb toward the Dôme du Gouter
that you avoid by the left.
Go down to the Col Gouter
It is almost impossible to find your way there in case of bad weather.
From the col, go toward the Vallot hut
Follow the ridge above, pass the Bosses. The ridge becomes narrower and steeper.
Climb two steeper sections up to the top of Mont Blanc
Grade: PD- / III.
Aiguille du Gouter and its hut (© P. Gatta)
Sunset from Tête Rousse hut (© P. Gatta)
View from Tête Rousse hut in winter (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille de Bionnassay (© P. Gatta)
The route of Aiguilles Grises
is the normal route of the Italian side (western).
First ascent: J. and L. Bonin, A. Ratti, J. Gadin and A. Proment, August 1890.
It is a long route which crosses very crevassed sections.
The second day from the Gonella hut
to the summit is long.
This route can be an option to climb down from the Mont Blanc
after an ascent of another route of this side.
From the Combal lake
, follow the trail which goes up along the glacier of Miage
Leave the glacier close to a Spur coming down from the Aiguilles Grises
, and follow a trail to the right.
Follow it to the Gonella hut
(3071 m, 4-5 h).
From the hut, climb the glacier du Dome
avoiding as much as possible the huge and numerous crevasses.
Join the ridge to the col Aiguilles Grises
Follow the snowy ridge till the Piton des Italiens
Follow toward the Dôme du Goûter
, avoid the summit by the right.
Then follow the normal route of the Bosses till the top.
Grade: PD+ / IV.
Mont Blanc seen from Tre La Tete (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille Noire of Peuterey (© P. Gatta)
Glacier du Miage (© P. Gatta)
The Grands Mulets
route is mainly done in skiing.
First ascent (up to the Col du Dome): Jacques Balmat, Joseph Carrier, Francois Paccard and Jean-Michel Tournier, June 8th 1786.
It is a long route on the way up, especially the second day because of the elevation gain.
The glacier des Bossons
can be very crevassed and the upper part if exposed to ice falls.
Take the Aiguille du Midi
cable car till the Plan de l'Aiguille
Cross the glacier des Pèlerins
then go up on the Bossons glacier
Cross to the right and go to the Jonction avoiding the numerous seracs and crevasses.
Join the Grands Mulets hut
From the hut, join the right side of the glacier and climb up either by Petit Plateau
and the Grand Plateau
, or by the Dôme du Gouter
which is less exposed.
Then follow toward Vallot hut
and from there to the Bosses route.
Grade: PD- / III.
Refuge Vallot (© P. Gatta)
Foehn on Mont Blanc (© P. Gatta)