ALPINISM

The Mt. Blanc. The culminary point of the western Alps at 4810 meters (15, 385 ft.) (and growing!); the mythic summit around which the history of the valley developed. First climbed ten years after American independence (1786) by Jaques Balmat and Michel Paccard, the storied summit remains a fair challenge for the aspiring alpinist of today.

There are two main routes- The Voie Normale climbs from the Gouter hut and follows the Arete des Bosses before summiting. Les Trois Mt. Blancs leaves from the Cosmiques hut and traverses the Mt. Blanc du Tacul, the Mt. Maudit, and finally summits the Mt. Blanc. This route is possible as a traverse, descending by the Voie Normale. While possible in two days by a fit and experienced party, I recommend a week of training and acclimitizing to maximize your chances of success and to assure the security of the group. While seen by some as a simple, straightforward outing, the success rate on the Mt. Blanc hovers around 50 percent each year. (a bit higher for guided parties, no joke!) Success in mountaineering is never guaranteed, but at least we can put the odds in our favorů

The many summits surrounding the Mt. Blanc serve as the perfect introduction to snow and glacier travel, as well as acclimatization for an eventual summit attempt. The Aiguille du Tour, the petit Aiguille Verte, the Pointe Isabella, the Mt. Blanc du Tacul, and the Tour Ronde all are examples of fine ascensions in the immediate area. It's also true that from the summit of the Mt. Blanc it's impossible to see the Mt. Blanc itself, and the panorama is certainly magnificent from several points in the range.

There exist many possibilities for all levels, including glacial hikes and hut trips in the many alpine valleys, by foot, or on snowshoes.