Mont Blanc - it’s July but it is not summer
Posted by Julie Dickson 9th July 2012
Well the weather reports in Mont Blanc were not good so we were unable to attempt a summit let alone get past 13,000 feet (Mont Blanc is at about 15000, Kilimanjaro at about 19500). Severe thunderstorms rolled in with 50-60 mph winds and a drop of about 30-40 inches of snow. This posed a few problems. First even if weather improved there was still 40 inches of fresh snow which a) could hide crevasses and b) increased chances of avalanches due to higher temperatures when the weather cleared. Also, you didn't want to be the first group/person cutting a fresh trail after a snow drop like that!
Finally, even if you're were to get to the summit in good conditions well you'd still have to get back down in gale force winds, and "rapid descent" is not recommended when you're in snow and ice at altitude. Mountain patrols usually can do this but even they weren't able to get up the mountain until Saturday. We were meant to attempt on Friday when the storm was at its worst.
Otherwise the last couple of days were spent just getting used to the equipment and altitude. We took 2 ski lifts to the start of a trail where we hiked to the auberge Albert 1er. The next day we climbed up a very steep glacier and crossed over the ridge into Switzerland. Then we hiked down to the next auberge Trient. Wednesday we had an early start where we walked across an ice/snow field and then climbed across a crevasse and up a steep slope (45-50 degree incline) using every inch of steel from our crampons and ice axes to get to the ridge. From there we scrambled up some rocks (ropes and belaying required) to the top of the ridge at 3500m (11500-11600ft). That was fun!
As Friday was out we spent the day having fun in Chamonix rock climbing and then yesterday drove to Italy to climb to the southern side of the Vallee Blanche and climb up the Aiguille de Toule (12000 feet) again with all equipment required (helmet, harness, rope, ice axe and crampons:
When we got to the top, the view of Mont Blanc should have been visible from the top of the mountain in the picture below. By the way there's a 1000 ft drop on either side of me when this picture was taken Saturday
About the author
Julie Dickson travelled to the Alps planning to climb Mont Blanc in July 2012. However the best laid plans…
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