Thursday, July 21, 2016

Crossing the Mont Blanc Massif

Executive summary by darmansjah

MONT BLANC is the highest mountain in the Alps and the European Union. It rises 4,810 m (15,781 ft) above sea level and is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence. It is also sometimes known as La Dame blanche (French for "the White Lady") or Il Bianco (Italian for "the White One").

The mountain lies in a range called the Graian Alps, between the regions of Aosta Valley, Italy, and Haute-Savoie, France. The location of the summit is on the watershed line between the valleys of Ferret and Veny in Italy and the valleys of Montjoie Valley and Arve Valley in France. The Mont Blanc massif is popular for mountaineering, hiking, skiing, and snowboarding.

Mont Blanc seen from the Rébuffat platform on Aiguille du Midi

The three towns and their communes which surround Mont Blanc are Courmayeur in Aosta Valley, Italy, and both Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Chamonix in Haute-Savoie, France — the latter being the site of the first Winter Olympics. A cable car ascends and crosses the mountain range from Courmayeur to Chamonix, through the Col du Géant. Begun in 1957 and completed in 1965, the 11.6 km (7¼ mi) Mont Blanc Tunnel runs beneath the mountain between these two countries and is one of the major trans-Alpine transport routes.

A panoramic view of Mont Blanc after the first snow of the 2013/2014 winter, taken from Mont Blanc Refuge, west of Courmayeur

Climbing Routes

Blanc Massif averages nearly 100 fatalities a year with published estimate of 6,000-8,000 alpinist fatalities in total. (The High Mountains of the Alps, Dumler, 1994). There are several classic climbing routes to the summit of Mont Blanc:

mont blanc summit

The most popular route is the Voie Des Cristalliers, also known as the Voie Royale. Starting from Saint-Gervais-les-Bains the Tramway du Mont-Blanc (TMB) is taken to get to the Nid d'Aigle. The ascent then begins in the direction of the Refuge de Tête Rousse and then through the Goûter Corridor,[18] considered dangerous because of frequent rock-falls, leading to Goûter cabin for night shelter. The next day the route leads to the Dôme du Goûter, the Vallot cabin and L'arrête des Bosses.

La Voie des 3 Monts is also known as La Traversée. Starting from Chamonix, the Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi is taken towards the Col du Midi. The Cosmiques cabin is used to spend the night. The next day the ascent continues through Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit.

The historic itinerary through the Grand Mulets, which is most frequently traversed in winter by ski or in summer to descend to Chamonix.

The normal Italian itinerary is also known as La route des Aiguilles Grises. After crossing the Miage Glacier, the night is spent at the Gonella refuge. The next day proceeds through the Col des Aiguilles Grises and then the Dôme du Goûter, concluding at L'arête des Bosses.

A panoramic view of Mont Blanc glacier

The Miage — Bionnassay — Mont Blanc crossing is usually done in three days. The route begins from Contamines-Montjoie, with the night spent in the Conscrits cabin. The following day, the Dômes de Miages is crossed and the night spent at the Durier cabin. The third day proceeds through l'Aiguille de Bionnassay and then the Dôme du Goûter.

From the summit of Mont Blanc on a clear day, the Jura, the Vosges, the Black Forest and the Massif Central mountain ranges can be seen, as well as the principal summits of the Alps.

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