Ascent of Mont Blanc on 1949-09-01

Climber: Frederick Johnson

Others in Party:Murray Brush
Josef Biner (Zermatt guide)
Andre ___ (Chamonix guide)
Date:Thursday, September 1, 1949
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Tram
Peak:Mont Blanc
    Elevation:15781 ft / 4810 m

Ascent Trip Report

Climbing Mont Blanc, the “Roof of the Alps,” was the culmination of a monthlong visit to Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland and Pennine Alps, highlighted by climbs of a dozen 4000-m peaks. Murray, Josef, and I took the train from Zermatt to Chamonix on August 27. We hoped to start for Mont Blanc the next day, but unsettled weather dictated otherwise. However, we were active at the lower elevations climbing on the Clochetons, and on the 30th we had a fine day traversing the Petits Charmoz (2867m) between Col d’Etala (2786m) and Col de la Buche (2785m), followed by the short climbs of the Aiguille de l’M (2844m) and its SW summit, Pointe Albert (2816m). On the 31st, despite “iffy” weather, we started for Mont Blanc, accompanied by Chamonix guide Andre ____. From Les Houches below Chamonix, we took the telepherique to Bellevue (1790m), then the tram to the Nid d’Aigle (2386m) before starting the hike up to the popular Tete Rousse Hut (3187m). After lunch here we continued up through Le Grand Couloir (3270m)--prone to rockfall--to the Goûter Hut(3817m)for the overnight.

A strong, cold wind was blowing when we left the Goûter Hut at 5:30AM. The sun rose encouragingly, though in a cloudy sky, as we approached the Dôme de Goûter (4340m), but soon disappeared in cloud. We descended to the Col du Dôme (4240m), then resumed the upward climb to the untidy,small Refuge Vallot (4362m). Placed here primarily for emergencies, this metal survival box has been a life-saver many times in bad weather. We huddled inside in freezing temperature to break from the wind and enjoy a hot drink. From the Vallot Hut to the summit we were in virtual white-out conditions. Without our guide Andre we couldn’t possibly have found the way despite the faint tracks. We proceeded up to the summit ridge over the two humps of the Grande Bosse (4513m) and the Petite Bosse (4547m), then along a sharp snow ridge past the rocks of La Tournette (4677m). In another 100 meters or so, Andre announced we were at the top–9:15AM–we would never have known it, socked in as we were. There was nothing to entice us to stand around in the wind and fog on our lofty summit ; so we were soon trudging downhill to the Grand Mulets Hut (3051m), where we relaxed and enjoyed a leisurely lunch before going over to Le Glacier telepherique station for the quick ride down to the
more mundane life of Chamoniz.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:12546 ft / 3824 m
    Total Elevation Loss:12402 ft / 3780 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Hut Camp
    Weather:Cold, Very Windy, Whiteout/Fog
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:12546 ft / 3824 m
    Route:Dome du Gouter
    Start Trailhead:Les Houches  3235 ft / 986 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:12402 ft / 3780 m
    Route:Grands Mulets
    End Trailhead:Chamonix  3379 ft / 1029 m

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