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Mont Blanc (4810 m)
Selection of 8 Routes - Alps, France

Aiguille du Midi, Mt Blanc du Tacul, Mt Maudit, Mt Blanc, Dome et Aiguille du Gouter (Wikimedia, GNU 1.2).
Aiguille du Midi, Mt Blanc du Tacul, Mt Maudit, Mt Blanc, Dome et Aiguille du Gouter (Wikimedia, GNU 1.2)

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). Mont Blanc 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:


► 1) 8 routes to Mont Blanc: 2) Central Pillar of Frêney

3) Grand Capucin, Bonatti Route

4) Other Peaks in the Massif:
  • Aiguille Verte, Couturier Couloir
  • Aiguille Verte, Whymper Couloir
  • Aiguille de Blaitière, Spencer Couloir
  • Aiguille du Plan, Midi-Plan traverse
  • Grandes Jorasses
  • Dent du Géant
  • Aiguille de Rochefort, Ridge
  • Aiguille d'Argentiere, Y Couloir
  • Les Courtes, Northeast Face

The Alps and the Mont Blanc Massif (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech).
The Alps and the Mont Blanc Massif (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Mont Blanc 4810 m (15,570 ft), Central Pillar of Frêney (Solo)

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)
Central Pillar of Frêney seen from the Innominata (© P. Gatta)

Mont Blanc 4810 m (15,570 ft), Peuterey Ridge (Solo)

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)
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 (south side). 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 (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille Blanche of Peuterey, Grand Pilier d'Angle Mont Blanc de Courmayeur, Mont Blanc
Brenva glacier (© P. Gatta)

Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, Dames Anglaises, Aiguille Blanche, Grand Pilier d'Angle (© P. Gatta)
Aiguilles Noire, Dames Anglaises, Aiguille Blanche, Pilier d'Angle (© P. Gatta)

Summit rdige below the Mont Blanc de Courmayeur (© P. Gatta)
Summit rdige below the Mont Blanc de Courmayeur (© P. Gatta)

Aiguille Blanche, Col de Peuterey, Grand Pilier d'Angle (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille Blanche, Col de Peuterey, Grand Pilier d'Angle (© P. Gatta)

Aiguille Blanche seen from the Grand Pilier d'Angle (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille Blanche seen from the Grand Pilier d'Angle (© P. Gatta)

Mont Blanc 4810 m (15,570 ft), Red Sentinel (Solo)

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 in winter (© P. Gatta)
South side of Mont Blanc in winter (© P. Gatta)

Mont Blanc and Mont Maudit (© P. Gatta)
Mont Blanc and Mont Maudit (© P. Gatta)

Col Moore and Brenva spur seen from Peuterey (© P. Gatta) Col Moore and Brenva spur seen from Peuterey (© P. Gatta)

Mont Blanc 4810 m (15,570 ft), Brenva Spur (Solo)

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.

Mont Blanc and Eperon Spur (© P. Gatta)
Mont Blanc and Eperon Spur (© P. Gatta)

Mont Maudit, Combe Maudite, Mont Blanc du Tacul (© P. Gatta)
Mont Maudit, Combe Maudite, Mont Blanc du Tacul (© P. Gatta)

Photo taken from the Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)
Photo taken from the Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)

Seracs at the top of the Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)
Seracs at the top of the Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)

Pilier Gervasutti, Mont Blanc du Tacul (© P. Gatta)
Pilier Gervasutti, Mont Blanc du Tacul (© P. Gatta)

Climbing the Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)
Climbing the Brenva Spur (© P. Gatta)

Mont Blanc 4810m (15,570ft), The 3 Mont Blancs

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 (3613 m). 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.

Mont Blanc seen from the top Aiguille Verte (© P. Gatta)
Mont Blanc seen from the top Aiguille Verte (© P. Gatta)

Tacul and col Maudit (© P. Gatta)
Tacul and col Maudit (© P. Gatta)

Brenva Col and Maudit (© P. Gatta)
Brenva Col and Maudit (© P. Gatta)

North face of Mount Maudit (© P. Gatta)
North face of Mount Maudit (© P. Gatta)

Mont Blanc 4810 m (15,570 ft), Bosses Ridge (normal route)

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 (Le Fayet). 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.

Mont Blanc, Bosses ridge (© P. Gatta)
Mont Blanc, Bosses ridge (© P. Gatta)

Serac under Dome of Gouter (© P. Gatta)
Serac under Dome of Gouter (© P. Gatta)

Sunset from Tête Rousse hut (© P. Gatta)
Sunset from Tête Rousse hut (© P. Gatta)

View from Tête Rousse hut in winter (© P. Gatta)
View from Tête Rousse hut in winter (© P. Gatta)

Sunset on Aiguille du Gouter in winter (© P. Gatta)
Sunset on Aiguille du Gouter in winter (© P. Gatta)

Aiguille du Gouter (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille du Gouter (© P. Gatta)

Aiguille de Bionnassay (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille de Bionnassay (© P. Gatta)

Mont Blanc 4810m (15,570ft), Les Aiguilles Grises

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)
Mont Blanc seen from Tre La Tete (© P. Gatta)

Mont Blanc 4810 m (15,570 ft), Les Grands Mulets

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 (3051 m).

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)
Refuge Vallot (© P. Gatta)

Tacul, Maudit, Mont Blanc, Dome and Aiguille du Gouter (© P. Gatta)
Tacul, Maudit, Mont Blanc, Dome and Aiguille du Gouter (© P. Gatta)

Foehn on Mont Blanc (© P. Gatta)
Foehn on Mont Blanc (© P. Gatta)

Serac in Bossons glacier (© P. Gatta)
Serac in Bossons glacier (© P. Gatta)


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