Discover the Mont Blanc massif and a little of its history
It is the highest massif in Europe, it is mainly located in France on the northern slope, the southeastern slope in Italy and the western part is in Switzerland. Its area is 400 square km, we can divide the massif into different area:
- the domes of Miage with the Aiguille des Glaciers and Tré la Tête for the southern end;
- the central part with Mont Blanc and the Piliers du Brouillard, du Freney and the Grand Pilier d'Angle which ends the Integral Ridge of Peuterey;
- further north, the famous Mer de Glace currently flows from the summit of Mont du Tacul to Montenvers, in 1820 the glacier descended to the village of Les Bois. The Aiguilles de Chamonix overlook it with the Aiguille du Midi and its cable car;
- then we arrive on the Dent du Géant and the famous Arête de Rochefort which leads to the Grandes Jorasses. It is one of the most famous North Face of the Alps, with a wall 1200 meters high;
- further north, Mont Dolent is one of the last great summits of the massif, it acts as a border point for the countries which share the Mont Blanc massif, Alpinists climb between France, Italy and Switzerland;
- the northern end of the massif is located in Switzerland to the east with the Saleina glacier, the Aiguilles Dorées and the Trient plateau;
- in France, to the west, the Argentière basin is surrounded by the Aiguille Verte (4121 m), the Droites (4000 m), the Courtes, the Aiguille du Chardonnet and the Aiguille d'Argentière with the Glacier of the Tour. It is the starting point of the famous Chamonix - Zermatt, which is one of the most beautiful ski tours in the Alps!
The Arve valley is located below the summit on the French side in Haute Savoie, then the southern end of the massif is in Savoie in the valley of the Glaciers.
In Italy, the Val Veny then the Val Ferret make up the south face of Mont Blanc with a valley of nearly 40 kilometers between the Col de la Seigne and the Grand Col Ferret.
The Italian side or "L'Envers du Mont Blanc" is the most impressive face of the massif, with all the most difficult access routes to Mont Blanc. The Pilier du Brouillard with the Pilier du Frêney and the Integrale de Peuterey form the three most difficult routes to reach the summit.
The fastest ascent of Mont Blanc round trip from Chamonix
All these routes are carried out in several days, but the fastest ascent of Mont Blanc round trip from Chamonix is held by Kilian Jornet in 4 hours 57 minutes and 40 seconds, he achieved this record on Thursday July 11, 2013, the climb was made in 3h30 with 3773 of positive vertical meters!
Many dramas and great mountaineering days have taken place here!
The famous Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) takes place at the end of August and thousands of Trailers come to run on the path of the Tour du Mont Blanc: the Frenchman François d'Haene holds the record in 19:01:54 during the 2017 edition.
The summit of Mont Blanc
Its highest point, the Mont Blanc, is at 4809 meters, at the moment in history books, it was listed for a long time at 4807 m then 4810 m and recently the Snow Dome would have lost one meter.
The summit of Mont Blanc is a dome of snow and ice that makes many mountaineers dream. On the French maps we can see that the summit is completely in France, but on the Italian maps the summit belongs to Italy and France like all the other border summits of the Massif.
It was during the Armistice of the Second World War that the border line changed, for 99% of people it is the top of Europe but on paper there is sometimes a small difference!
In general, you have to equip yourself with mountaineering equipment to reach the top, but sometimes in summer, thanks to a heat wave, the best paragliders manage to land at the top!
The first Ascents of Mont Blanc
Jacques Balmat was the first man to set the feet on Mont Blanc on August 8, 1786 with the Savoyard Doctor Michel Gabriel Paccard. The two had left the day before and had bivouacked at the junction of the Glacier des Bossons and Taconnaz: these two adventurers had rudimentary equipment. Along the descent Paccard was blinded by the snow reflection, he will descend thanks to the help of Balmat!
The first Woman to have climbed Mont Blanc on July 14, 1808 (the year could also be 1809 or 1811?) is called Marie Paradis. She would have been taken by her Guide Friends at the time, who wanted to do Mont Blanc for fun, this ascent remains unknown because of the Modesty of the young Woman.
Jacques Balmat has apparently been part of the Adventure with Pierre Payot, according to the story of Alexandre Dumas, they would have helped Marie Paradis to reach the top: laughing he would have told her that she would have for her Dot all the countries that "she could see". She became a heroine in the valley and prepared good meals for people returning from Mont Blanc!
Later, the ascent of Henriette d'Angeville will have more media coverage, but thirty years later!
Since always the Alpinists continue to climb the summit by all possible and imaginable routes and since the 2000s the paragliders also come to graze the summit and sometimes they land at the top thanks to a heat wave!
Mont Blanc, protected since October 1, 2020 by a prefectural decree following a promise of Emmanuel Macron
The summit is now protected and some rules apply to Mountaineers who climb it. It is now forbidden to bivouac on the Mont Blanc normal route, but the other routes are not affected. Paragliders are again authorised to reach the summit, in accordance with the local rules on visual flight.
Many would like strong actions from Europe and powerful countries to limit global warming, which threatens the world's glaciers, that actually are the world's main reservoirs of drinking water: the IPCC forecasts could unfortunately become true with the disappearance of glaciers below 3,500 meters altitude in 2050! It is our common problem!