Mont Blanc – The Italian Way

I have just had an excellent week with Mel, Michelle, Tom, Andy and

Our week began with an ascent of the Bishorn (4153m) from the Tracuit Hut in perfect conditions. We then completed two via ferratas (Nax and Evolene) on Tuesday as a semi rest day before our next planned route!

On Wednesday we made the significant approach to the Refuge Gonella before traversing Mont Blanc (via the Pope Route and the Gouter Route) on Thursday and overnighting at the Refuge Gouter. Today we descended at 5am from the hut to the valley.

A few notes on conditions:

  • The glacier on the approach to the Rifugio Gonella is not as dry as normal. A rope is advised.
  • The glacier above the Rifugio Gonella has significant serac danger.
  • There are only a couple of icy sections around the Piton des Italiens.
  • There has been stonefall in the Grand Couloir. It is best to cross this early.

Summit of the Bishorn.

The final ridge to Mont Blanc.

Mont Blanc

Congratulations to Amanda and Trevor who summited Mont Blanc yesterday. We climbed the mountain via the Refuge du Gouter and the Refuge de Tete Rousse.

Amanda and Trevor with the summit behind.

The Grand Couloir was quiet during our ascent (between 2.15am and 4.15am) and our descent (between 5.00am and 7.00am). I did hear activity during the afternoon and evening. The conditions above the Gouter Hut were excellent.

The Mont Blanc Massif

Barry and I have been based from Saint Gervais les Bains the last three days. On Wednesday we climbed a seven pitch route at the excellent La Duchere near Les Contamines before travelling to the Rifugio Torino to overnight.

The view from the end of the Arete des Cosmiques.

Yesterday, we climbed Les Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m). We also tried to access Le Petit Flambeau traverse and the Aiguille de Toule but both were in terrible condition. Therefore, we dropped down to the Val Ferret and went multi pitch climbing at Mochet.

Today, we climbed the classic Arete des Cosmigues in good conditions.

Mont Blanc from the summit of Les Aiguilles Marbrees.

Col Sup. du Tour and the Aiguilles Marbrees

On Wednesday Danny and I walked into the Refuge Albert Premier. There is unusually large amounts of snow for this time of year and an ice axe is essential.

Thursdays weather forecast was for sunny spells from 7am onwards following 30 centimetres of snow the night before. Therefore despite the poor visibility and snowfall we left the hut at 7am and climbed to the Col Sup. du Tour (3289m). We had hoped to continue to the Aiguille du Tour but on reaching Switzerland the weather worsened with high winds as well as snowfall and poor visibility. Therefore we returned from to the hut having had an adventure but not pushing things too far!. The weather did eventually improve at 12.30pm.

Today we left Saint Gervais early and drove through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and after using the lift system climbed the Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m) before the weather once more closed in.

There are more photos on the facebook page.


The Dent du Geant and Aiguilles Marbrees this morning.

Danny returning from the Aiguilles Marbrees.

Danny returning from the Aiguilles Marbrees.

Ski Touring from La Rosiere

Today, Iain, Steve and I had a good afternoons touring from the La Rosiere lift system. We climbed Pointe 2670m from the Fort Telepherique and were rewarded by a blank canvas for our ski descent.

Iain on the summit with Mont Blanc behind.

Iain on the summit with Mont Blanc behind.

Chasing the Sun with George and Paul

The weather was a little mixed last week in the Alps. However, by being flexible in our plans, George, Paul and I had a brilliant week climbing amazing mountains away from the crowds.

We began our week by visting the Vanoise. This is one of my favourite alpine regions as it is far from the crowds and very unspoilt once away from the ski lifts on the edge of the region. From thr Refuge Col de la Vanoise we completed the brilliant traverse of Mont Pelve (3261m). Details of this AD- route can be found on the website camptocamp.

As we completed the route late season, ice screws were required to climb over the bergshrund and a 60 metre rope was required for the abseils (unlike the 50 metres suggested by camptocamp).

The next day after returning to Saint Gervais les Bains we completed Aiguille de Toule (3538m) from the Punta Helbronner which is located on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif. The conditions were very Scottish e.g. whiteout and deep fresh snow. Needless to say, we did not see any other climbers!

For the last three days of our trip we travelled to Les Ecrins. This is another of my favourite areas in the Alps and it was great to return here to finish the last part of my alpine season.

Following walking in to the Refuge du Soreiller on Wednesday, we had a late start on Thursday to allow the weather to clear before completing Le Voie du Nain and Aiguille Centrale du Soreiller (3338m). This is an excellent rock peak situated behind the iconic Aiguille Dibona which is rarely visited.

On Saturday to finish off our trip we climed the Voie Boell with the Stoffer variation to the summit of the Aiguille DIbona (3130m). This was a great route on a great summit to end another excellent summer in the Alps.

Many more photos can be seen on the climbnow facebook page.

George and Paul near the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

George and Paul near the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

Mountaineering with Team Lincoln

Paul and I had a great nine days mountaineering in the Monte Rosa Massif, Mont Blanc Massif, Chaine du Bargy and the Valais with Paul, Nick, Mark, Dean and Neil who are all based in the Lincoln area. Thanks also to Kenny Grant who joined us for the last three days. We completed the following;

  • 4th September. Ecole de Glace on Mer de Glace.
  • 5th September. Overnight at Rifugio Mantova following crevasse rescue on the Indren Glacier.
  • 6th September. Pyramid Vincent (4215m), Balmenhorn (4167m) and Corro Nero (4322m).
  • 7th September. Punta Giordani (4046m).
  • 8th September. Crag session at Le fayet followed by approach to the Robert Blanc Hut.
  • 9th September. The brilliant Arete des Lanchettes to the summit of the Domes des Glaciers (3529m).
  • 10th September. Via Ferrata at Pic Jallouvre.
  • 11th September. Ice climbing on the approach to the Moiry Hut.
  • 12th September. The traverse of Pigne de la Le (3396m).

Lots more photos can be seen on the facebook page.

The team on the summit of Dome des Glaciers.

The team on the summit of Dome des Glaciers.

The Duforspitze and L’Index

Following on from our successful trip to the Champoluc valley, John and I have had another successful three days in the mountains.

On Thursday we travelled to Zermatt before completing the approach to the Monte Rosa Hutte where we overnighted. Following the 2am breakfast the next morning we climbed to the top of the Duforspitze (4634m) before returning to Saint Gervais les Bains. The Duforspitze is the highest point in the Monte Rosa Massif and the second highest mountain in Western Europe. The mountain was in good condition.

Yesterday we climbed L’Index (2595m) above Chamonix. This classic rock peak is featured in Gaston Rebuffat’s book, ‘100 Best Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif’.

John on L'Index with Mont Blanc behind.

John on L’Index with Mont Blanc behind.


Mont Blanc Massif and Arolla

Andrew and I have just had a great five days mountaineering in the Mont Blanc Massif and Arolla Valley despite some challenging weather.

On Monday we travelled through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and used the new telepherique to the Punta Helbronner before climbing the Aiguille Marbrees (3535m) and the Aiguille de Toule (3534m). The parking for the new telepherique is in a new location and it is worth allowing a couple of minutes to find it.

With a poor forecast for Tuesday we made the best of the day by visiting the Mer de Glace and practising the key crevasse rescue skills we would need for our planned expedition over the next three days.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday  were spent in the Arolla Valley were we climbed firstly to the Cabane des Vignettes before an ascent of the Pigne d’Arolla (3790m) on Thursday morning.

After our ascent of the Pigne we made the long approach to the Bivouac de l’Aiguillette. This is a brilliant remote hut and provides some great mountains with no other climbers around.

The weather deteriorated on Thursday evening into Friday but we still managed an ascent of the Becque Labie (3463m) before returning to Arolla

There is large quantities of new snow around which made the return to Arolla on Friday hard work. During our expediton period we did not see any other climbers other than at the Vignettes Hut. Therefore, there are no tracks at the moment so good navigation skills are essential.

There are lots more photos on the facebook page.

On the approach to the Bivouac.

On the approach to the Bivouac.

Approaching the Aiguille Marbrees.

Approaching the Aiguille Marbrees.


Two More Days with the Alpine Academy

I have just spent the last two days with the Arc’teryx Alpine Academy in the Mont Blanc Massif. This excellent event is held each June in Chamonix with the aim of providing climbers and mountaineers with skills training.

The weather has been mixed over the last couple of days with further snowfall at altitude. However, we have had two great days out. The first at the Aiguille du Midi and today at the Mer de Glace.