MT BLANC (4,810) 2011

More photos here: Climbing Mt Blanc (4807m) Aug 18, 2011

I had a fantastic week on Mt Blanc! The photo below is from the summit on Mt Blanc which we reached around midday on 18th of August.

(Ian, Al, Yury and me on the summit of Mt Blanc)

It was cloudy on the summit – we could not see much… However, the views days before and the morning on the way to the summit were stunning (some photos  below). I could not believe I wasn’t here before!!

It took us about 6 hrs to reach the top and 4 hrs to get back. Our starting point was Refuge des Cosmiques via three mountains – Mt Blanc du Tacul, col Maudit, Mont Maudit to the summit of Mt Blanc 4807m.

Climbing Mt Blanc is not as simple as you may think. I could never have done it without a guide — too dangerous. There were some steep parts where we had to fix ropes in order to climb up or down.

There were some narrow ridges where we had to walk without being able to hold on to anything, just trusting your climbing mate and the guide attached to you by rope in case you slip. Guide -client ratio is usually 1 to 2 on the summit day. On a normal training day – 1 to 4.

I would highly recommend Mountain Tracks (http://mountaintracks.co.uk) — a UK company for guided climbs of Mt Blanc. They are highly professional and have awesome guides!

Anyway, reaching the summit is a nice reward at the end of a long walk, hard climb, cold, wind, etc. Also, if the weather is bad, you may not reach it. Safety is above everything.

I am extremely happy I was able to go all way up. However, the process of climbing and being high in the mountains is equally important and rewarding to me. No summit can replace friendships we made, laughs, stories, situations we live together. I am thankful to Olly, our guide, for bringing this group together! And to all my group members – Yuri, Al, Ian, Chris, Sean, Dean and Stan — you are awesome!!

I can’t wait to see you all next year on Matterhorn!!!:)

Going to Mt Blanc  (Aug 21, 2011)

Tomorrow I will be off to Chamonix for a week training and climb on Mt. Blanc . I am hoping this course/ climb will permit me to better prepare for my upcoming expedition to Cho Oyu which is starting end August.

My itinerary will be something like this below:

Overview:

Most commonly we climb the Normal Route via Gouter Hut. On occasions we climb the three Monts route via the Cosmique Hut.
On the Gouter route the main difficulties involves steep rock scrambling (at times on crampons) to get to the Gouter Hut and then the last two hours of the climb require accurate crampon work along the icy summit ridge. The spectacular scenery and final exposed summit ridge makes this the finest snow route in the Alps.

To climb Mont Blanc, previous mountaineering experience is not essential. Nevertheless, training and altitude acclimatisation is required for climbing and descending its glaciers, ice slopes and airy ridges. The program is divided into two halves. The first three days are dedicated to training and acclimatisation, the later three days to climb the peak itself.

Sample Itinerary/ Photo of points:

Day 1
Arrive in Chamonix. Meet the guides to discuss the week’s plan and to check equipment. Stay overnight in Chamonix.
Day 2
Climb to the Refuge Albert Premiere (2,706m). The afternoon is spent learning ice axe and crampon techniques on the glacier. Sometimes instead of the Albert Premiere, we use the Orny refuge.
Day 3
After an early start we ascend the Petite Fourche (3,520m). The climb begins by a glacier trek and finishes on a spectacular granite ridge. On a clear day it is possible to see the Matterhorn in the distance. We then trek over the Swiss border and overnight at the Trient Hut.
Day 4
Leaving the hut at around 5am we make an ascent of the Aiguille du Tour (3544m) Weather permiting we witness a perfect sunrise. Again, it’s mostly walking on snow with a rocky scramble to a sharp summit. After the ascent we descend to the valley and stay overnight in Chamonix.
Day 5
After a relaxing morning preparing kit and making last minute purchases, we take the Bellevue cable car to the Col du Voza and the rack and pinion railway to the Nid d’Aigle. From there we reach the Tete Rousse hut in 2 hours of easy walking.
Day 6
From a 4.00 am start, the attempt on the summit via the Gouter refuge and the Bosses ridge. We should reach the summit in 7-10 hours. Descend the same route all the way back to the Tete Rousse hut.
Day 7
Descend to Chamonix to celebrate a successful trip. Last night is spent in Chamonix.
Day 8
Depart.

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