The view of the huge Mont Blanc massif against a background of sky blue is striking in its power and splendor. Its steep snow-covered slopes are respected by climbers, skiers and tourists alike.
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe, located on the border of France and Italy. Its height is 4,810 meters (15,781 feet). The mountain is one of the most popular tourist attractions and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
The history of expeditions to Mont Blanc is a chronicle of glorious victories, bitter defeats, and self-love struggles.
The highest mountain in the Alps
The Mont Blanc route – and climbing as a leisure sport – was pioneered by two English gentlemen, Richard Pocock (an explorer in Egypt and Turkey) and William Wyndham (a professional soldier). In 1741, despite earnest warnings from locals who called Mont Blanc “cursed mountains”, they climbed one of the peaks of the massif – Montenvier (1913 m). Nineteen years later, a young man from Geneva, a scientist in the second generation, Horace Benedict de Sossure set out on their way. Seeing the highest peak of Mont Blanc from the already conquered Montenvier, the twenty-year-old explorer was thirsty for scientific discoveries, but, considering the ascent of Mont Blanc an impossible mission for himself, set a large cash reward to whoever would explore the way to the top. For 26 years he paid regular visits to Chamonix, but all organised expeditions were at best unsuccessful, at worst deadly. And now, finally, it happened! On August 8, 1786 two local explorers – Michel-Gabriel Paccard, a physician, and Jacques Balma, a mountain guide and crystal maker, reached the coveted height of 4,810m, nearly going blind in the snowy white. Their compatriots in Chamonix watched the ascent through telescopes.
A year later, Sossure, together with Balma and the entire caravan of porters who carried his equipment and scientific instruments, repeated the ascent. Mont Blanc was proclaimed the highest peak in Europe, Sossiur the pioneer, and Pacquart the near-fraudster. A monument was erected to Sossus and Balme in Chamonix, and it was not until a century and a half later that justice was done: in 1932 a monument also appeared there to Dr. Michel Paccard.
The roof of Europe
At the hour when the first rays of the sun touch Mont Blanc, also called “the roof of Europe”, the eternal snows shine like stardust. Mont Blanc is a unique relief composition, which looks absolutely unreal. Fantastic figures of rocks, frozen snow and ice are not only bizarre, but also dangerous. And this does not stop, but on the contrary, attracts fans of risk. The surroundings in the form of wooded hills and valleys make the peak even more majestic and alluring.
Most visitors to these places are fans of skiing and mountain hiking. On a classical route laid out in the XVIII century. in our time on Mont Blanc climbers and climbers up to 20,000 tourists and climbers a year. The route is considered technically not very difficult for physically prepared person, who passed acclimatization. However, lack of experience and the necessary equipment can lead to injuries. In high season, especially in summer – over Mont Blanc there are up to 12 flights a day by rescue helicopters, rendering help to those who need it.
There are mountain trails that will allow hikers to reach the glacier boundary – one of the most popular leads from the Chamonix Valley to the Chalet de Pyramids (1,895 meters above sea level). Some sections of the road can be overcome by elevators and cable cars, enjoying stunning alpine views with forests, mountain lakes and picturesque glaciers. The snow at the summit of the Mont Blanc massif lies all year round.
- The states where the array is located: France, Italy, Switzerland.
- Valleys: Chamonix, Glacier, Aosta, Mongeois, Ferré.
- Glaciers: Mer de Glace, Bosson, Arzhantier, Brenwa, and others.
- Cities: Chamonix-Monblanc (Chamonix), Courmayeur.
- Length of the massif: 30 km.
- Width: from 12 to 15 km
- The highest peaks: Mont Blanc (4810 m), Mont Blanc de Courmayeur (4748 m), Mont Maudie (4465 m).
- The length of the Mont Blanc tunnel between Courmayeur and Chamonix: 11.6 km.
Climate and weather
- Alpine climate: snowy winters and cold summers.
- Average temperature at an altitude of 1000 meters: -2.5°C in January and +19°C in July.
- The ski resorts of Chamonix-Mont Blanc, Courmayeur.
- Glaciers and peaks: the Mer de Glas (Ice Sea), the Gran Balkon Sud ridge (the Big Southern Balcony), the Aiguille du Midi spur.
- The Saint Bernard breeding kennel at the Great Saint Bernard Pass.
- The Alpine Museum.
- Parks and reserves of the Chamonix valley (Merle, Epoine Rouge).
- The Tunnel of Mont Blanc.
- Jacques Balma, one of the first conquerors of Mont Blanc, was granted the right by the King of Sardinia to add the title “nicknamed Mont Blanc” to his name.
- The list of items that accompanied De Sossure to the summit on August 1, 1787 included, among others, an umbrella, tent, folding bed, mattress, blankets, two jackets, three jackets, three vests, six shirts, ceremonial white clothing, travel clothes, boots, socks, three pairs of shoes – with long, short and regular noses, as well as house shoes.
- The first woman to conquer Mont Blanc (July 14, 1808) was the Frenchwoman Marie Paradis. The last hundred meters to the top she was dragged through the snow by male guides, just to finish the publicity stunt, promising an influx of tourists.
- In 1886 an expedition led by the future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt reached the summit.
- The first Winter Olympics were organized in Chamonix in 1924.