One of the finest ski mountaineering expeditions in the Alps; Mont Blanc by ski is the pinnacle of many skiers’ careers. A busy and crowded place in summer, in Spring the mountain is often quieter and we travel by less used routes. The ‘market’ drives people to attempt this peak in April (the ski touring season is still in full swing and the majority of the lifts are running) but experience has shown us that in fact May into June is the prime period, in terms of weather and safe snow conditions.
Mont Blanc (4810m) is a mountain of superlatives, more so by ski. It is however ‘ski mountaineering’ in every sense of the phrase and you need to be fit, acclimatised and happy ascending 1800 metres, much of it carrying your skis. The rewards are wonderful however and the feeling of putting those first turns in straight down the North Face from the summit is one you won’t forget.
A 6 day programme ensures acclimatisation and we would normally ascend at least one other 4000 metre peak during the week.
- From the top of the Aiguille du Midi we down climb the arete and ski down the Vallee Blanche till under the Pointe Adolphe Rey. From here we re-ascend to the Italian border (col de Toule). After a break here we ski spring snow back down and retrace our line of ascent to overnight at the Cosmiques Refuge.
- A 5am breakfast puts us well ahead of the crowds and we leave shortly afterwards to climb the impressive Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m). Much of this we skin but normally there is a section below the ridge which will need to be bootpacked. Below the summit we make a depot of skis and don boot crampons for the final mixed climb. Night in the valley.
- A further day tour in the Mont Blanc Massif. Night in valley.
- Take the 1st telecabine to the Plan d’Aguille and traverse underneath the North face of the Aigulle du Midi. We use a rope to safeguard the crossing of ‘La Jonction’ (a heavily crevassed area where two glaciers divide) and then skin the final slopes to the Refuge Grands Mulets.
- Our chosen route is the North Ridge of the Dome de Gouter (or ‘Arete Royale’). This is objectively safer than ascending the Grands Mulets route (there is serac exposure here) but is tough. A 1:30 am breakfast is normal and you skin into the night heading for rocks at the base of the arete. After around 500 metres of ascent the angle steepens and you carry your skis on your back, axe in hand and crampons on your boots all the way to around 4000 metres. From here we keep the rope on and skin easily all the way to the Vallot Refuge (4362m). This is an important decsion point; we need to decide whether to carry our skis all the way along the Bosses Ridge and ski from the summit or depot them and return to ski from the Vallot and into the Grand Plateau (past trips have shown us it’s 50% for skiing direct from the summit). Either way it’s a further two hours of hard effort along the thin and exposed Bosses Ridge before gaining Western Europe’s highest point! A break here is well earned but soon enough we’ll be making sure our skis are fitted properly and making the descent of a lifetime. The North Face is serious, steep and both crevassed and exposed in places to seracs; it is however simply fantastic and if conditions are good joy to ski. Some devious routefinding soon has us on easier angled terrain but concentration levels must be maintained as the glacier here can be tortuous and a slip cannot be entertained!
- An important ‘day in hand’ maximises chances of summit success (weather etc).
Normally we will have skied extensively with you before attempting this trip but if you have the requiste experience please do get in touch.
Cost on application.