Ranked 11th in the world, Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco in Italian) is the highest peak in Western Europe at over 15780 ft. or 4810m. The mountain lies between Haute-Savoie Departement in France and the Aosta Valley region in Italy. The notable towns near Mont Blanc in these two regions are Chamonix in France and Courmayeur in Italy. Both countries claim the peak as lying within their boundaries. The Mont Blanc tunnel (completed in 1965) connecting the two countries of France and Italy, runs under the mountain. It is 7 and a quarter mile long (or 11.6 km).
The road tunnel under Mont-Blanc is 11.61 Km long.
The Mont Blanc massif is a very popular tourist spot and also one of the best areas in the world for snow sports, mountaineering and hiking. The first winter Olympics was held in Chamonix. Mont Blanc was first climbed/ascended by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel Paccard on 8th August 1786. However today numerous tourists mountaineers visit and ascend the mountain. It is estimated that annually over 20000 people come to ascend the mount. Amongst experienced mountaineers it is considered fairly easy ascent but it is a long ascent and poses the danger of rock slides (apart from the high altitude – naturally!)
The most popular viewing area for tourists is the Auiguille du Midi. It can be reached by taking the cable car from Chamonix.
The views of the Mont-Blanc range and adjoining areas are breathtaking.
Its pristine and incredible.
We were told that up until few years back these were also covered with snow. But now its almost barren. Global warming? Maybe!
Some Classic climbing routes on Mont Blanc include –
• The Voie Royale (a.k.a the Voie de Cristalliers). One can start the ascent from Nid d’Aigle towards Tete Rousse cabin, through Gouter Corridor to Gouter Cabin shelter for the night. The second day the route leads to the Dome du Gouter, Vallot cabin to L’Arrete des Bosses. One can take the TMB (Tramway du Mont-Blanc) to Nid d’Aigle from Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.
• La route des Aiguilles Grises also known as the Normal Italian Itinerary. One gets to traverse the Miage glacier. Night is spent at Gonella cabin. Next day the route takes you through Col des Aiguilles Grises, the Dome du Gouter, ending at L’Arrete des Bosses.
• La Voie des 3 Monts (La Traversee). This route starts from Col du Midi. One can take the Teleferique de l’Aiguille du Midi from Chamonix to reach here. The night is spent at Cosmiques cabin. The next day Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit are covered.
• Miage-Bionnassay-Mont Blanc crossing. Starts from Contamines-Montjoie and ends at the Dome du Gouter. This is a three day ascend. First night is at Conscrits cabin and the second night at Durier cabin.