|Mont Blanc Traverse|
The Traverse of Mont Blanc via Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit is the more scenic of the two "normal routes" on the peak, and also the more physically and technically demanding. With a total vertical gain of 1193 meters (3900 feet) over two peaks before the summit, and a descent of almost 2500 meters (nearly 8000 feet) via the Goûter Ridge to the Nid d'Aigle railway station, it is a long and strenuous summit day. The climbing is on heavily glaciated snow and ice slopes with several long sections at a continuous angle of 30-35 degrees, and sections of steeper traversing on ice up to 40 degrees. The approach, by contrast, is an easy one via cable car to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi, followed by a short hike on a snow arête and glacier to the Cosmiques hut at 11,860 feet.
As with any route on Mont Blanc, we strongly recommend spending a few day acclimating on other routes, sleeping at high huts before attempting the summit. Because this route is climbed rom the Cosmiques hut, this makes a logical base for acclimatization and preparation climbs. The Midi-Plan Traverse, the Arête des Cosmiques, the Contamine-Grisolle route on Mont Blanc du Tacul or the Tour Ronde are all good acclimatization routes.
Most parties on the Traverse leave the hut at about 2 am, after a 1 am wake up time. The route first climbs over the shoulder of Mont Blanc du Tacul. Most of this is done in the dark and normally it takes about 2 hours to reach the shoulder of the Tacul. From here we descend a bit into the Col Maudit, then a big climb up to the shoulder of Mont Maudit. Here the terrain steepens and normally there are two pitches of steeper ice at the very end. Sunrise usually happens somewhere on this section.
After the we cross the shoulder of Maudit we have a bit of steep traversing to reach the Col de la Brenva. And then more steep climbing, before the rather endless final sloes to the summit. Descent is either back the way we came, or more typically, down the Goûter route to the Nid d'Aigle (Eagle's Nest).
|Climbing on Mont Maudit|
This route is quite high for its entire way, as well as quite exposed to the weather. We will need good conditions and weather before attempting it. It is also a long route, usually taking about 6 to 7 hour up, followed by a long descent. It is significantly harder than the Goûter route. Also, there is some steep climbing and traversing, so climbers must skilled in cramponing.
Climbers planning the Traverse of Mont Blanc need to be in very good aerobic condition. They also need to have skill with crampons, and for this some significant previous training is necessary. We can achieve this training in the days preceding the ascent.
|The shoulder of Mont Maudit|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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