"Climbing Mont-Blanc is easy"
That's wrong !!
The ascent of Mont-Blanc may not involve acrobatic climbing techniques, but it's a long climb at high altitude. Mont-Blanc is not just a walk : there is no easy path to reach the top. Going up snow slopes or across crevassed glaciers in crampons, climbing narrow ridges or towers of broken rock doesn't look like a walk !!
The ascent of Mont-Blanc requires technical, physical and mental preparation.
Mont-Blanc official altitude - 2011 september 11 th : 4810,20 meters
Classic routes summary
♦ Mont Blanc “Ordinary route” : the Goûter route
- 1stday : + 1428 m from Nid d’Aigle to refuge du Goûter - 5 to 6 hours
- 2ndday : + 1015 m from refuge du Goûter to summit / - 2438 m from MB summit to Nid d’Aigle : 10 to 12 hours.
Technically , it’s the easiest route, but the objective dangers are masked by the apparent “ease” of the route : risks of stone falls on Goûter couloir, Bosses ridge quite airy, steep in places and sometimes icy.
♦ The Three Monts route : the traverse from top of Aiguille du Midi
- 1stday : - 200 m /+ 45 m from top of Aiguille du Midi to refuge des Cosmiques - 50 minutes
- 2ndday : + 1425 m from refuge des Cosmiques to summit / - 1425 from summit to Cosmiques refuge and + 370 m from Cosmiques refuge to Aiguille du Midi cable car - 13/14 hours.
From Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi cable car permits a quick access to Cosmiques refuge but there is a lot of height gain the second day : 1425 m from the col du Midi to the summit.
This route is both physically much more demanding than the Goûter route ( all the ascent is above 4000 m) and technically more difficult : Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit bergshrunds, steep slopes sometimes icy below Mont Maudit and at Mur de la Côte. Ojective dangers such as risk of seracs falls and avalanches in Tacul and Maudit areas are real.
♦ The historic route : The Grands Mulets route
1 st day : + 825 m from Plan de l’Aiguille to Grands Mulets refuge - 4 hours
2ndday : + 1699 m from Grands Mulets refuge to summit / - 2500 m from MB summit to Plan de l’Aiguille - 6 to 8 hours for the ascent / 3 hours for the descent (with skis) - 6 hours on foot.
From Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi cable car takes you to the mid station Plan de l’Aiguille.
This route is now used much less frequently in summer and it’s used as a descent route (chaotic glaciar, important risk of seracs falls during the traverse of the Jonction and the Petit Plateau). This route is frequented especially in the spring by skiers with the alternative on Dôme du Goûter north face to avoid the Plateaux’ exposed areas.
♦ The Italian ordinary route : the Pope route
- 1stday : + 1371 m from Combal parking (val Veny ) to refuge Gonella - 5 hours
- 2ndday : + 1739 m from Gonella refuge to summit / - 3111 m from summit to Combal parking - 13/14 hours
This itinerary on the Italian side is one of the wildest corners of Mont-Blanc and it is the less frequently. The route is long, both in terms of height gain and distance ( no cable to the access to Gonella refuge). Technically it is no harder than the Goûter route but the glaciar may be quite chaotic.
You can find detailled descriptions of those 4 routes and Miage Bionnassay traverse in several topos. It’s possible to reach top of Mont-Blanc on other long and technical routes on south and east side of Mont-Blanc.
Download the booklet "Climbing Mont-Blanc is best left left to experience mountaineers" in pdf format.