Ascent of Mont Blanc on 2019-07-09

Climber: James Stone

Others in Party:Caroline Phillips
Date:Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mont Blanc
    Elevation:15781 ft / 4810 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had been on the Goûter route before so we decided to forego the services of a guide.

To improve the chances of success I booked two nights at the Goûter Refuge so that we would have two summit days. This is not a cheap option and beds are booked up quite far in advance. I was on the FFCAM website the moment bookings opened to the public.

After having undertaken some acclimatisation in the Mer de Glace area I called the Nid d'Aigle refuge to see if they could fit us in. They could. I wanted an early crossing of the Grand Couloir to minimise the risk of stonefall.

The Nid d'Aigle refuge is a lovely refuge. It is quite small but has a good situation and is not far from the terminus of the tramway.

We left the following morning at around 4.30 and were at the Grand Couloir in two hours. It seemed very quiet and the air temperature was below freezing. Before crossing we listened for activity above. Still quiet.

60% of the way across we heard stones crackling their way down. It was somewhat unnerving hearing them whistle by. I was hit by a couple of (fortunately) small stones. No damage done.

There then follows the 600m ascent of the Goûter Arête and we took this slowly being watchful of parties descending and releasing more rocks. We were at the Refuge by 10am.

The forecast looked good enough for the following day tho it proved to be largely wrong! Instead of the partly cloudy sky and gentle winds with gusts to 35kph, we experienced clouds and steady winds of 25kph. However the summit was above the clouds but very cold.

2 hours to the Vallot Shelter and 4.25 hours to the summit (including the stop at the Shelter) from the Goûter leaving at around 3am. 7.25 hour round trip including time at the summit and a further 30 minute stop at the Shelter on the way down. There was a track in the snow most of the way which aided navigation in the cloud.

Descended the following day.

Full blog and pics here:
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3478 ft / 1060 m
    Total Elevation Loss:295 ft / 89 m
    Route Conditions:
Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Headlamp, Ski Poles, Hut Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3281 ft / 1000 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3183 ft / 971 m; Extra: 98 ft / 29m
    Loss on way in:98 ft / 29 m
    Start Trailhead:12598 ft / 3839 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:197 ft / 60 m
    Gain on way out:197 ft / 60 m

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