East face of Mont Blanc massif. The statue in the foreground is the summit madonna of Tour Ronde. Credit: Ari Paulin,  Shot in Chamonix, Haute Savoie, France.(c) Ari Paulin, licensed under: Copyrighted.
East face of Mont Blanc massif. The statue in the foreground is the summit madonna of Tour Ronde. Credit: Ari Paulin, Shot in Chamonix, Haute Savoie, France.(c) Ari Paulin, licensed under: Copyrighted.

General Information

Home of alpinism, Mont Blanc Massif offers the alpinist a superb choice of top quality routes on rock, snow and ice and of all grades of difficulty. Several of the classic routes have their firm place in the history of mountaineering. Besides Mont Blanc at 4807m there are thirteen other mountains and many more tops which reach the magic 4000m. There are several trains and telepheriques that make approaches to many mountains short and effortless. Considering this, the quality and diversity of routes, and the fact that the range is compact, it is no wonder, that overcrowding can be a problem in some areas. However, it is also possible to climb routes in relative solitude, if climbers are prepared to climb in less popular (and often also less accessible) areas.

  • Aiguilles Rouges Aiguilles Rouges Located to the other side of Chamonix valley. It is very easily accessible with Brevent (Chamonix) and Flegere - Index (Le Praz) ski lifts which makes many multi-pitch rock climbs into comfortable day trips from Chamonix. Should there be need for accommodation, Lac Blanc hut is well situated, less than an hours hike from Index lift station. Furthermore, the area has splendid panorama towards Argentiere glacier, especially Aiguille Chardonnet, Les Drus and Aiguille Verte are well visible. There are also hiking paths, especially Lac Blanc and Lac Noir are popular. Because of its lower height (2400-2800m) and quick access, area is well suitable for taking advantage of short periods of good weather. The area has a number of multi-pitch rock climbs, usually between 150m and 400m in length. Some of the routes are bolted. Most of the popular climbs are located in the eastern part of the group. Most popular route of the area is probably the normal route of Aiguille l'Index (AD, IV). It can be very crowded though. Longer and much quieter alternatives are Chapelle de la Gliere South Ridge (D, IV+), Aiguille Perseverance South Ridge (AD, IV+) and Voie des Dalles on Aiguille Pouce (TD-, VI-).
  • North of Mont Dolent
    • Chardonnet - Pointe de Bron Chain towards north from Aiguille du Chardonnet. Separates the northernmost part of the Mont Blanc area to Le Tour (west) and Plateau du Trient (east) glaciers.
    • Petite Fourche - Aiguilles Dorees - Le Portalet Chain running east from Petite Fourche separating Plateau du Trient in north and Glacier de Saleina in South. Best known climbing objectives are Aiguilles Dorees and Le Portalet.
    • Bec de Lachat - Aiguille Chardonnet Chain leading from Argentière to Aiguille Chardonnet, on the north border of Argentière glacier separting it from the Le Tour glaciers. Forms the NW ridge of Aiguille du Chardonnet.
    • Argentiére - Dolent Continuation of Bec de Lachat - Aiguille Chardonnet chain on the north bank on Argentière glacier, separating it from Plateau du Trient.
    • Aiguille de la Neuve - Clochers de Planereuse Chain running to the east of Argentière - Triolet chain.
    • Grande Darrey - Petites des Essettes
  • Mont Dolent - Col des Hirondelles
    • Dolent - Triolet Located at the head of Argentére glacier separating it from Mont Dolent glacier. There are several (winter) ice routes, many of the most famous ones not finishing on any summit.
    • Mont Dolent - Monte Grepillon
    • Grand Montets - Aiguille Triolet Long ridge located to the south of Argentière glacier, separating it from Talèfre glacier. Central part of the ridge consists of impressive wall of north faces of Aiguille Verte, Les Droites and Les Courtes. South side from glacier de Charpoua and glacier de Talefre is far less intimidating.
    • Les Drus Short chain branching off the Grand Montets - Aiguille Triolet chain close to its end, not far away from Argentière city. Lies between Glacier du Nant Blanc (NW) and Glacier de la Charpoua (E). There are several classic climbs, especially on the West face of Petit Dru and on the north face of Les Drus. However, some of the classic routes have been destroyed by rock fall.
    • Aiguille Moine - Aiguille Verte Short chain branching off the Grand Montets - Aiguille Triolet ridge between Glacier de la Charpoua (west) and Talèfre Glacier (east). Most important climb on the ridge is Moine Ridge of Aiguille Verte.
    • Aiguille Triolet - Rouges de Triolet
    • Aiguille Triolet - Grandes Jorasses Chain running south from Aiguille Triolet, separating glaciers flowing towards Chamonix valley from Val Ferret and Val Veny.
    • Talèfre - Pierre á Berge Chain running towards west (Aiguille Moine from Aiguille Taléfre. Separates Glacier du Talefre (N) and Glacier du Leschauz (S).
    • Aiguille de Leschaux - Monte Gruetta
  • Col des Hirondelles - Col du Geant
    • Grandes Jorasses - Dent du Géant Contains famous peaks Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille Rochefort and Dent du Geant. Traverse of the whole chain is a major two-day outing.
    • Mont Mallet - Capucin du Tacul Ridge running towards north from Mont Mallet, separating Glacier du Geant (W) and Glacier de Leschaux (E).
  • Chamonix Aiguilles
    • Groupe Charmoz - Grepon Northernmost group in Chamonix Aiguilles, located next to to Aiguille de Blaitière.
    • Groupe de Blaitière Located to the north of Groupe du Plan.
    • Groupe du Plan Located between Groupe de Blaitière and Aiguille du Midi. Aiguille du Plan North Face has prominent hanging glacier which makes it easy to recognize from Chamonix town.
    • Aiguille du Midi Furthest to the South, located somewhat isolated from the rest of Chamonix Aiguilles. Separated from Aiguille du Plan by wide Col du Plan.
  • Mont Blanc Massif
    • Mont Blanc du Tacul - Mont Blanc
    • Satellites of Mont Blanc du Tacul Several sharp pinnacled located on the Geant glacier, in front of the East Face of Mont Blanc du Tacul. Access either from Torino hut or from Col du Midi. Number of classic rock climbs, especially difficult climbs on Grand Capucin are famous.
      • Tour Ronde
      • Peuterey Ridge Classic ridge running south from the summit of Mont Blanc via Mont Blanc du Courmayeur, Grand Pilier d'Angle, Col de de Peuterey, Aiguille Blanche, Breche Nord des Dames Anglaises, Pointe Gugliermina and Aiguille Noire. Separates Brenva and Freney faces. Classic Peuterey Integral is difficult and very committing multi-day endeavour. Dames Anglaises variation is shorter and less difficult, still both challenging and committing enough for most tastes. There are bivouac huts close to Breche Nord des Dames Anglaises and Col de Peuterey.
      • Dome du Gouter - Aiguille de Bionassay
  • Tré la tête SW part of Mont Blanc range, located to the SW of Mont Blanc Massif.

Logistics

  • 40 km from Martigny, 86 km from Geneva, 59 km from Aosta
  • Air: Nearest international airport in in Geneva (Switzerland). There is Swss train connection (pricey) from Geneva airport to Chamonicx. For those on budget, it is cheaper (but slower) to get to Chamonix from Geneva by taking French train connection. Unfortunately this involves at first getting to the other side on Geneva to station Eau Vives (tram and city bus). Furthermore, there are at least one train changes as well. Milano in Italy is the other flight possibility, but it further away and the connections are not as good. For bigger group minivan-taxi may not be too much more expensive than train.
  • Train: Train connection from Geneva airport via Martigny and Vallorcine to St. Gervais. There are stations in Montroc (Le Tour), Chamonix, Les Houches and St. Gervais.. The Saint Gervais to Vallorcine line connects to the high-speed TGV line in Annecy (in peak season the TGV runs directly to Saint Gervais) +33-(0)450 53 1298; +33-(0)8 36 35 35 35
  • Bus: Mont-Blanc Bus: Regular bus service covering all of the Chamonix valley +33-(0)450 53 0555 Daily services to Annecy, Geneva, Grenoble, Courmayeur, Aosta and Turin, as well as to all the principal towns in the Mont-Blanc region +33-(0)450 53 0115
  • Car: Chamonix is a mere 16 km from Switzerland, passing by the 'Col des Montets'. Mont Blanc tunnel from Chamonix to Italy (Courmayeur), fare one way FF 95, two way FF 120. Many of the climbs and lifts are within within walking distance from Chamonix city, thus it is entirely feasible not to have a car at disposal after reaching Chamonix. Furthermore, there is regular bus service in Chamonix valley which makes it easy to get to Les Houches, Argentière or Le Tour.
  • Misc. It is possible to get from Chamonix to la Palud (close to Courmayer also using lifts: first from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi, then from Aiguille du Midi to Pointe Helbronner (Torino hut) and finally from Pointe Helbronner to La Palud.

Accommodation

The valleys of Mont Blanc area are popular among the tourist both during the summer and during the winter. Hence there are number of accommodation options ranging from hotels to chalets and camping. Especially Chamonix has plenty of boarding options for climbers. However, since it's so extremely popular, during the high season (August), it may stilll be difficult to find vacant accommodation without prior reservation.

In the mountains there are several huts. Some of them are big, warden and offer full three course meals and beer, on the other hand there are also several tiny bivouac shelters with no luxuries. Most, if not all, of the huts have blankets though, so it's possible to get by without bringing your sleeping bag. Price range of the warden huts varies somewhat, generally alpine club owned huts are far cheaper than private huts (especially Cosmiques hut is pricey). Furthermore, huts owned by alpine clubs grant significant discount if you are a member of UIAA sanctioned climbing organization. Most popular huts can be very crowded during high season, so it's pretty much mandatory to book in advance. Camping during daytime is officially not allowed. That being said, there are sizable tent camps especially in Vallee Blanche during high season.

Chamonix valley
  • Téte Rousse Hut3167CAF 60 beds (reservation) open winter room warden from 12.6.-1.10. (pref)0450582497 (pref)0450939591
    Connections:
    • from Nid d'Aigle
    • to Refuge du Goûter
  • Refuge du Goûter (Goûter Hut)3817CAF 108 beds (reservation) open winter room with 20 places, warden from 2.6.-1.10. (pref)0450544093 (pref)0450532752
    Connections:
    • from Nid d'Aigle
    • from Refuge du Goûter
  • Refuge des Grands Mulets3051CAF, 70 beds, open winter room with 14 places (reservation) (pref)0450531698 (pref)0450472700 (pref)0450472482
  • Vallot Hut4362(emergencies only) open room with 12 places
  • Refuge des Cosmiques3616Bureau des Guides, 140 Beds (reserve, very expensive). Winter room (key at Bureau des Hautes Montagnes), warden from 15.2.-15.10. (pref)+33450544016 (pref)+33450530088
    Connections:
    • from Chamonix with Aiguille du Midi telepherique, PA-0,-0,75h, Moran pp 270
    • from Torino hut accross vallee Blanche, F+, 350m, 2,5-3h, Moran pp. 270
  • Refuge du Couvercle2687CAF Paris (pref)0450531694 (pref)0450472399 (pref)0450531603
    Connections:
    • from Montenvers, F+, 840m, 3-4h, Moran #317
  • Refuge du Lac Blanc2532Loacted close to lac Blanc in Aiguilles Rouges.
  • Connections:
    • from Montenvers, 3h, AV vol 2, H3
    • from Chamonix with Aiguille du Midi telepherique, F, 2h, AC vol 2, H2
  • Connections:
    • from Montenvers, 2,5h, AC vol 2, H4
    • from Chamonix with Aiguille du Midi telepherique, AC vol 2, H3
  • Bivouac de la Fourche (Alberico and Borgna bivouac)3730Located on the ridge joining Tour Ronde and Mont Maudit. usually accessed from Cirque Maudit (glacier du Geant). Most frequented climb form here is Kuffner Arete.
    Connections:
    • from Torino hut, AD, 460, 3-4h, Moran pp 271
    • from Chamonix with Aiguille du Midi telepherique, AD, 530m, 3,5-5h, Moran pp 271
  • Bivacco Ghiglione (Bivouac du Trident)3685Close to Col du Trident. Does not exist any more
  • Refugio Argentière2771Large hut, used to access classic north faces of Aiguille Verte, Les Droites, Les Courtes and Aiguille du triolet. (pref)+33450531692
    Connections:
    • from Grands Montets, F, 300m, 1,5-2h from Grands Montets, Moran pp 318
  • Refuge Charpoua2841
    Connections:
    • from Montenvers, F+, 1050m, 3-3,5h, Moran pp 316, AC vol 2 #48
  • Connections:
    • from Montenvers, F, 630m, 2,5-3,5h, Moran pp 314
  • bivacco Canzio3825
    Connections:
    • from Lescaux hut, AD, 1475m, 4,5-5,5h, Moran pp 314
    • from Boccalette hut, D, 1020m, 4,5-5,5h, Moran pp 315
  • Refugio Plan de l'Aiguille2207SCP, 60 beds, open winter room with 20 beds, warden from 15.6.-30.9. +33-(0)45 053 5560. Located very close to middle station Plan de l'Aiguille on Aiguille du Midi telepherique. Access to NF routes of Aiguille du Midi.
    Connections:
    • from Telepherique middle station along Aiguille du Midi telepherique, 10 min
  • Refugio Albert 1 (refugio Albert 1er, refugio Albert 1°)2706 (pref)+33450540620 (cell)+33450541336
    Connections:
    • from Le Tour with Col de Balme lift, 1,5h, AC vol 2, H12
    • from Charamillon middle station of Col de Balme lift, 1,75h, AC vol 2, H13
    • from Le Tour, 2h, AC vol 2, H14
Val Veny
  • bivacco Canzio3825
    Connections:
    • from Lescaux hut, AD, 1475m, 4,5-5,5h, Moran pp 314
    • from Boccalette hut, D, 1020m, 4,5-5,5h, Moran pp 315
  • Rifugio Gonella3071CAI 42 beds, open winter room with 25 places warden from 1.7.-15.9. (pref)+390165885101 (pref)+390165841704
    Connections:
    • from Cantine de la Visaille, F, 1400m, 5-5,5h, Moran pp 274
  • Capanna Quintino Sella3363
    Connections:
    • from Pian Lognan via lago Combal and Miage glacier (AD-, 7-9h)
    • from Cantine de la Visaille, AD-, 1750m, 6,5-7,5h, Moran pp 274
    • from Rifugio Gonella, PD+, 400m, 2,5-3h, Moran pp 275
  • Rifugio Boccalette-Piolti2804Grandes Jorasses Hut hut:016589970; warden:015252204
    Connections:
    • from Planpincieux, W2, 1240m, 3,5-4,5h, Moran 314
    • to bivacco Canzio, D
  • Rifugio Torino3371Large hut with easy access using lifts either from Chamonix over Aiguille du Midi or from Courmayer. Access to several popular climbs (Rochefort Ridge, Kuffner Arete, Tour Ronde). (pref)+393402270121 (cell)+393356184758
    Connections:
    • from Aiguille du Midi with Funivie Monte Bianco lift to Pointe Helbronner
    • from Aiguille du Midi by foot over Glacier du Geant, PD-, 350m, 2,5-3h, Moran pp 271
    • from Refuge des Cosmiques by foot over Glacier du Geant, F+, 350m, 2-2,5h, Moran pp 271
    • from Courmayeur with Funivie Monte Bianco lift to Pointe Helbronner
  • Rifugio Monzino2561Rifugio Gamba (hut: 165809553; warden:0165842887) Societé della Guide Alpine, 104 beds, open winter room with 8 places, warden from 15.6.-25.9.
    Connections:
    • from Val Veny, W2, 980m, 2,5-3h, Moran pp 272
    • to bivacco Eccles via Punta Innominata, AD-, 1300m, 6-7h
  • Bivacco Borelli Lorenzo2325before Rifugio Noire de Peuterey) CAAI, always open, 20 places, sometimes warden (0)11/546031
  • Bivacco Eccles (Bivacco Lampugnani)3860open room with 9 places
    Connections:
    • from Rifugio Monzino via Punta Innominata, AD-, 1300m, 6-7h
    • from Rifugio Monzino via Brouillard glacier, PD+, 1280m, 4-5,5h, Moran pp 272
  • Bivouac de la Brenva3200
  • Bivacco Dames Anglaises (Bivacco Craveri)3818
    Connections:
    • from Monzino hut, AD+, 1000m, 4-7h, 50, II/III, Moran pp 273
Val Ferret
  • Cabane d'Orny2826
  • Bivouac de la maye (Bivouac du Dolent)2667
  • Envers-des-Dorees bivouac2983
  • Cabane du Trient3170
Montjoie
  • Hotel Tré-la-Tête1970
  • Conscrits2602
    Connections:
    • from Les Contamines Montjoie, F, 1460m, 4-5h, Moran pp 275
  • Refugio Durier3358
    Connections:
    • from Plan Glacier hut, PD, 800m, 2,5-3,5h, Moran pp 276

Climbing info

General

Chamonix has all sorts of climbing:

  • Classic mountaineering on high peaks. Beside Mont Blanc itself, classics include Midi-Plan-traverse, Bionassay and Rochefort Aretes, Aiguille d'Argentière, Aiguille du Chardonnet, Grandes Jorasses, Tour Ronde and Aiguille Verte.
  • Technical mountaineering. The area has huge concentration of big routes, often on mixed ground, called Grandes Courses by the French.There's huge number of classic routes, such as Frendo Spur, Brenva Face, Innominata and Peterey Ridges, Kuffner Arete, North faces of Les Courtes and Les Droites, Nant Blanc Face, Grandes Jorasses North face... The list goes on and on.
  • Alpine rock climbing on granite walls. There is also plenty of alpine sport climbing. The most populars areas/peaks for rock climbs are Chamonix Aiguilles, Aiguilles Rouges, satellites of Mont Blanc du Tacul (especially Grand Capucin), Les Drus and Freney Face.
  • Some of the most famous seasonal water ice routes are found in the steep faces of Mont Blanc area. Especially couloirs of Mont Blanc du Tacul, Southern faces of Mont Blanc, Les Droites and Aiguille du Chardonnet have number of steep (water) ice routes.
  • During the winter the area is mecca for ski mountaineers, extreme skiers and waterfall ice climbers. Especially Argentière glacier has plenty of high quality cascades for ice enthusiasts.
  • For bad weather windows, Chamonix valley has also crags for sport climbing. Some routes on Aiguilles Rouges can also comfortably be climbed in a day due to fast lift access.

Several grading systems are used depending on the type of climbing:

Alpine climbs
International French adjectival system is used to grade alpine climbs. Sometimes traditional grade is completed with commitment grade expressed in Roman numbers.
Rock
For alpine rock routes traditionally UIAA grade has been used whereas non-alpine climbs use French rock grade. However, in the recent years French rock grade has been increasingly adopted to alpine routes as well, especially for alpine sports climbs. Standard aid climbing grade is used when appropriate.
Ice & mixed
For moderate and middle grade climbs, most common way is to express the steepness either as maximum or average angle of the slope. For the difficult routes, WI grading is used, usually as two-part variation (including commitment grade). For mixed stuff, some modern routes sometimes use M grades for mixed sections, which certainly tells a lot more about the actual demands met by a climber rather than more commonly used normal rock grade. British guidebooks sometimes use Scottish winter grade.

Seasons and weather

Summer season between July and September, with late August being probably the most crowded. Conditions vary a great deal between summers, valleys are often very hot and it may be quite warm high up in the mountains as well. Make no mistake though, people freeze to death on the slopes of Mont Blanc area every summer. Most popular routes usually have good paths which make route finding much easier that it would be otherwise. That being said, it is very much possible to get plenty of new snow during the summer, so don't count on there being a path through crevasse labyrinths on the glaciers.

For ice routes spring usually has better conditions (April-June). Later in the year some ice routes are still possible but harder due to blank ice and may be unjustifiably dangerous, some routes are just out of nick in the summer season.. Winter conditions are usually at best between January and February for ice fall climbing.

Rescue

Mountain rescue in Chamonix area is probably the best in the world. French rescue is top notch and it's free, Italian and Swiss rescue can cost quite a bit unless you have insurance that covers mountain climbing including evacuation costs. Needless to say, insurance provided by alpine clubs comes highly recommended.

Alpine distress signal:
6 x within a minute with regular intervals, give some sort of visual or acoustic signal. Then pause for a minute and repeat the signal until you get an answer. To answer: 3 x within a minute - one minute pause.
Telephone:
  • France +33
  • Italy +39
  • Switzerland +41

References

  • Griffin, Lindsay: Mont Blanc Massif Selected Climbs - Vol 1, 3rd edition. Isbn: 0-900523-57-3. Alpine Club, 1990.
  • Griffin, Lindsay: Mont Blanc Massif Selected Climbs - Vol 2, 3rd edition. Isbn: 0-900523-58-1. Alpine Club, 1990.
  • Eberlein, Hartmut: Mont- Blanc- Gruppe - Gebietsführer für Bergsteiger und Kletterer., 9. Auflage edition. Isbn: 3-7633-2414-3. Bergverlag Rudolf Rother, 2000.
  • Laroche, Jean-Louis & Lelong, Florence: Die Gipfel des Montblanc - Die schönsten Routen in allen Schwierigkeitsgraden. Isbn: 3-405-15693-9. BLV Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1999.
  • Damilano, Francois: Snow, Ice And Mixed - Vol 1. Isbn: 9782952188128. JM Editions, 2005.
  • Biner, Hermann: Hochtouren im Wallis - vom Trient zum Nufenrnpass, 2. Auflage edition. Isbn: 3-859022-160-5. SAC-Verlag, 1996.
  • Laroche, Jean-Louis & Lelong, Florence: The Mont Blanc Range - Classic Snow, Ice and Mixed Climbs. Isbn: 9781898573722. Baton Wicks Publications, 2007.
  • Laroche, Jean-Louis & Lelong, Florence: The Mont Blanc Range - Classic Snow, Ice and Mixed Climbs. Isbn: 9781898573722. Baton Wicks Publications, 2007.
  • Damilano, Francois & Perroux, Godefroy: Cascades Autour Du Mont Blanc - Vol 2. Isbn: 9782950986825. JM Editions, 2006.
  • Pusch, Wolfgang; Schmitt, Edwin; Senf, Thomas & Waeber, Michael: Hochtouren Westalpen - Band 1 - 86 Fels- und Eistouren zwischen Tödi und Grand Combin. Isbn: 9783763330287. Bergverlag Rudolf Rother, 2007.

Valleys

Chamonix valley

Chamonix valley, located to the NW of Mont Blanc, is the home of alpinism. Today, it still is the mecca of climbing. There are huge number of classic routes and crowds of climbers, ranging from those doing once in a lifetime ascent on Mont Blanc to those poshing the envelope on the extremely difficult routes on rock, ice and mixed ground.

There are several towns and villages in the valley, the most important being St. Gervais, Les Houches, Chamonix, Les Praz, Les Tines, Argentière and Le Tour. Chamonix is by far the most important for climbers. Climbs of Aiguilles Rouges and north side of the Chamonix Aiguilles are started directly from Chamonix valley (still using ski lifts and possibly Montenvers train to ease the approach). Other areas are reached from numerous glaciers of the area.

There are several lifts and trams from different villages in Chamonix valley that makes access to some of the climbing areas fast and comfortable.

Aiguilles Rouges

Aiguilles Rouges Located to the other side of Chamonix valley. It is very easily accessible with Brevent (Chamonix) and Flegere - Index (Le Praz) ski lifts which makes many multi-pitch rock climbs into comfortable day trips from Chamonix. Should there be need for accommodation, Lac Blanc hut is well situated, less than an hours hike from Index lift station..

Because of its lower height (2400-2800m) and quick access, area is well suitable for taking advantage of short periods of good weather. The area has a number of multi-pitch rock climbs, usually between 150 and 400 in length. Some of the routes are bolted. Most of the popular climbs are located in the eastern part of the group.

Most popular route of the area is probably the normal route of Aiguille l'Index (AD, IV). It can be very crowded though. Longer and much quieter alternatives are Chapelle de la Gliere South Ridge (D, IV+), Aiguille Perseverance South Ridge (AD, IV+) and Voie des Dalles on Aiguille Pouce (TD-, VI-). Furthermore, the area has splendid panorama towards Argentiere glacier, especially Aiguille Chardonnet, Les Drus and Aiguille Verte are well visible. There are also hiking paths, especially Lac Blanc and Lac Noir are popular.

  • Aiguilles Rouges

Gouter glacier

North side of the Mont Blanc massif is the least interesting. That being said, it provides the easiest ascent of Mont Blanc and this thus the most popular. The most common route takes bus from Chamonix to Les Houches from where lift leads to Bellevue, where it is possible to hop on the tram heading to Nid d' Aigle. From there path leads to Tete Rousse hut and higher up to Gouter hut. Unfortunately there are not many other climbs from this side than Gouter route on Mont Blanc. That being said, climbing the North face of Aiguille de Bionassay from Tete Rousse hut, then following Bionassay Ridge and finally Bosses Grat (the upper part of Gouter route) to Mont Blanc makes much more varied alternative to Gouter ridge (also significantly more difficult and the summit day is much longer though).

Bossons glacier

Grands Mulets route on Mont Blanc is the other popular route on this side on Mont Blanc Massif. It ascend Bossong glacier that is well visible to Chamonix city.

Glacier des Pelerins, Glacier de Blaitiere & Glacier des Nantillons

Although Chamonix Aiguilles have no peaks rising above 4000m, it is one of the most popular climbing areas around Chamonix. There are number of reasons for that. First, the peaks are wild and well visible to Chamonix. The area is also easily accessible.

Chamonix Aiguilles is best known for rock climbs on fine granite of Dent du Requin, Aiguilles Charmoz, Aiguille Peigne, Aiguille Blaitiere and Aiguille de Pelerins. North side of the group has a number of difficult ice and mixed routes, eg. ultra classic Frendo Spur (Aiguille du Midi, D, 1100m), prominent north face of Aiguille Plan and modern test pieces on Aiguille Pelerins.

The climbs on the norther side are started directly from main Chamonix valley. That being said, it is feasible to take lift to Plan de l'Aiguille station (along Aiguille du Midi telepherique) to ease the approach. Northernmost part may also be accessed from Montenvers station.

Subsidiary chain runs towards NW from Aiguille du Plan with Aiguille des Pelerins and Aiguille du Peigne. Most climbs on this chain are started from Glacier de Blaitiere. Northermost climbs in the area are started from Glacier des Nantillons.

  • Aiguille du Midi3842mNorth face
  • Chamonix AiguillesGroupe du Plan
  • Chamonix AiguillesGroupe de Blaitière
  • Chamonix AiguillesGroupe Charmoz - Grepon

Col du Midi

Taking telepherique from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi gives very fast approach to Col du Midi. Cosmiques hut (3613m) is the most convenient base. Although forbidden, during high season there's a village of tents in Cold du Midi, as it is the starting point for very popular Three Mont Blanc route. Other classics in from Col du Midi are Cosmiques Arete on Aiguille du Midi, Midi-Plan Traverse ans ice and mixed routes in the North face Triangle of Mont Blanc du Tacul, especially Chere Couloir. A bit further away, East Face of Mont Blanc du Tacul has host of classic difficult routes, mostly on mixed ground (eg. Gervasutti Pillar, Supercouloir). During the spring there are also several seasonal ice classics, eg. Albinoni-Gabarrou.

Aiguille du Midi is the starting point of moderate classic Midi-Plan traverse. Also starting from Aiguille du Midi, complete traverse of Chamonix Aiguilles is challenging two-day climb (~TD).

Vallee Blanche

Enormous Vallee Blanche descends from Col du Midi towards Montenvers. Refugio du Requin and Refugio Envers (2523m) provide accommodation here. Most obvious climbing objective from Vallee Blanche is south side of Chamonix Aiguilles group. Most convenient access is either to take telepherique to Aiguille du Midi and walk from there down the Vallee Blanche or to take train to Montenvers and walk from there up the Vallee Blanche.

Vallee Blanche is also used to access Talefre and Leschaux glaciers.

  • Chamonix AiguillesGroupe du Plan
  • Chamonix AiguillesGroupe Charmoz - Grepon
  • Chamonix AiguillesGroupe de Blaitière

Glacier du Geant

Due to its altitude, easy access with telepherique and availability of comparatively short itineraries, Glacier du Geant is well suited for acclimatization. That, however, is not to say that it wouldn't be well worth a trip for the routes alone.

Glacier du Geant. Access either by foot from Col du Midi across the glacier or taking lift from Aiguille du Midi (Chamonix) or La Palud. Most important base is Torino Hut located very close to Pointe Helbronner lift station. Most frequented climbs from this glacier are SE Ridge (PD) and North face (AD+/D-) routes on Tour Ronde, Den't Du Geant (AD-) and Rochefort Ridge (AD-).

Also several Grandes courses located on the East face of Mont Maudit and Brenva Face of Mont Blanc can be approached from Glacier du Geant. They usually require bivouac either in Bivouac de la Fource (3679m) or in Col du Trident (3720m), both of which are located on the ridge joining Tour Ronde and Mont Maudit. Access to the bivouacs is from Cirque de Maudit. Brenva Face has several routes with Brenva Spur and Route Major being the most famous. Grand Pilier d'Angle on the left side of Brenva Face has several routes in TD-ED range.

On the East side of Mont Maudit the most famous is mixed Kuffner Arete, the ridge joining Tour Ronde and Mont Maudit. There are also n umber of mostly difficult rock routes on the impressive pinnacles rising in front of the east Face of Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit. Most famous of these lower peaks is Grand Capucin.

Glacier Nant Blanc

Glacier de Charpoua

Glacier de Talèfre

Access to Glacier de Talèfre is from Montenvers across Mer de Glace. Hut base for the climbs in this area is Couvercle hut. From Talèfre glacier, climbs on the north side of Moine Verte chain, south side of Verte - Triolet chain and south side of Triolet - Aiguille de Talèfre and north side of Talèfre - Pierre á Berge are accessible. Best known climbs from Glacier de Talèfre include Les Drus, south sides of Aiguille Verte through Whymper Couloir (AD+/D-), Les Courtes and Les Droites (AD+). Aiguille Moine (South Face III PD, South Ridge ~D). Aiguille Triolet, Pointe Isabelle.

Glacier de Leschaux

Access to Glacier de Leschaux is from Montenvers across Mer de Glace. Most convenient hut for the climbs in the area is Leschauux hut. Some climbs are also possible from Couvercle hut located in the nearby Glacier de Talèfre. Glacier de Leschaux gives access to one of the most impressive faces in the whole Alps, the North face of Grandes Jorasses. Also classic Hirondelles Ridge on Grandes Jorasses starts from Leschaux hut. Mont Mallet and Calotte de Rochefort is easier objective. For climbers in look for rock climbs, Aiguille Pierre Joseph (3361m), Aiguille Talèfre (3730m) and rocky spires of Les Periades are the best objectives.

  • Grandes Jorasses - Dent du Géant
  • Les Periades

Argentière glacier

Argentière glacier is very convenient place to be for snow and ice climbs, as it provides access to number of classic routes. Acces to valley itself starts with lift from Argentière village to Grands Montets and hike from there to Argentière hut. Moderate classics from Argentiere glacier include Petite Aiguille Verte, Aiguille d'Argentière and NE Flank of Les Courtes. More difficult classics are Couturier Couloir of Aiguille Verte (D) and Austrian Route on the North Face of Les Courtes. For those seeking extremely difficult routes, North faces of Les Courtes and Les Droites are suitable playing grounds. There is also lots of water ice climbing during the winter.

  • Bec de Lachat - Aiguille Chardonnet
  • Argentiére - Dolent
  • Dolent - Triolet
  • Grand Montets - Aiguille Triolet

Glacier du Tour

Glacier du Tour is accessed from Le Tour with Col de Balme lift. The most important base on this glacier is Albert 1 Hut. It is possible to cross over to Plateau du Trient via Col du Tour.

The showcase climb from this hut is Forbes Arete on Aiguille du Chardonnet (AD). There are also several more difficult classic ice routes on Aiguille du Chardonnet (in D-TD). Easier objectives include Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche and Aiguille du Tour.

  • Aiguille Chardonnet

Val Ferret

Val Ferret, located in Switzerland, is least crowded of the Mont Blanc valleys. It is located to the NE of Mont Blanc Area. Main convenient center of the valley is Champex with smaller villages Praz de Fort and La Fouly higher up the valley.

It is possible to get to Val Ferret by taking train from martigny to Orsieres. From there there's bus conne´ction to La Fouly and Ferret.

Mont Dolent Glacier

Mont Dolent glacier is accessed from La Fouly. (La Maye du Dolent bivouac). Gallet Ridge of Mont Dolent (III AD).

Glacier de Saleina

Glacier de Saleina is accessed from Praz de Fort. Main base for climbing activity from the glacier is Cabane de Saleina. Also Envers-des-Dorees bivouac is located in the valley. It is possible to cross to Argentière glacier via col du Chardonnet or via Fenetre de Saleina to Plateau du Trient.

Dominating peaks are Aiguille du Chardonnet and Aiguille d'Argentière. North side climbs of Aiguille d'Argentiere are fairly popular but Aiguille du Chardonnet is mainly climbed from Glacier du Tour side. Other climbing objectives include Tour Noir, Grande Lui, north side of Aiguilles Dorees, le Portalet and Grande Fourche.

  • Aiguille Aiguille d'ArgentièreNorth face
  • Aiguilles DoréesNorth side

Plateau du Trient

Plateau du Trient is is the northernmost part of Mont Blanc area, located to the NE of Glacier du Tour and NE of Glacier de Saleina. It is accessed from Champex by taking a lift to station Grands Plans (2188m). Bases on the glacier are Cabane d'Orny and Cabane du Trient.

It is possible to get the the neighboring glaciers via numbers of cols:

  • to Le Tour glacier either via Col du Tour.
  • to Argentière glacier via Fenetre de Saleina and Col du Chardonnet
  • to Glacier de Saleina via Col des Plines or Fenetre de Saleina

Dominating peak of the area is Aiguille de Chardonnet. Other popular climbing objectives are Aiguille Purtscheller, Aiguille du Tour, Grande Fourche and Le Portalet.

Val Veni

Southern climbs are reached from Val Veni, located in SW side of the group in Italy. The valley is accessed from Aosta valley. The central city of the valley is Courmayeur. Entreves, located just north of Courmayeur is centrally located on Val Veni.

It is easy to get from Val Veny to Chamonix valley by taking Mont Blanc tunnel. In the western part of Val Veni the road end at Lac Combal (~1900m), there is no road connection to Montjoie.

Brenva glacier

Access to Brenva glacier is from Val Vany, to the west of Entreves Val Veni towards Cantine de la Visaille. More common access though, is from Glacier du Geant over Kuffner arete via Col du Trident or Col de la Fource. Bivouac de la Fource, important base for climbs from upper Brenva glacier, is located very close to the latter.

Upper Brenva glacier is starting point for some of the very legendary climbs, namely Brenva Face of Mont Blanc and on its left side, Grand Pilier d'Angle. Most commonly climbed route from here is Brenva Spur (AD+/D), tremendous classic and also the easiest and safest route on Brenva face. Route Major and Sentinelle Rouge (Red Sentinel) are both more difficult and more dangerous. Grand Pilier d'Angle has number of very difficult routes (TD or more) leading to the top of Grand Pilier d'Angle. It is possible to continue over Mont Blanc de Courmayeur to the summit of Blanc from there along Peuterey Ridge (~D). Brenva face and Grand Pilier d'Angle aside, there are not too many routes from Brenva Glacier. It is possible to climb Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey (~D, very serious) or Col du Peuterey to get to the Eccless hut, though.

Freney and Brouillard Glaciers

A bit further up the valley Freney and Brouillard Glaciers with Monzino Hut sitting on the rock island between the glaciers. Higher up, there are bivouac huts on Innominata Ridge and Peuterey Ridge; bivacco Craveri close to Aiguille Blanche and bivouac Eccles in the col between Aiguille Blanche and Mont Blanc. Access to all of the bivouac huts is difficult along classic climbs.

Freney and Brouillard glaciers offer access to classic climbs on Brouillard and Freney faces and Brouillard, Innominata and Peuterey Ridges. All of the routes are long, committing and difficult (D or more).

Miage glacier

At the end of the Val Veny lies Lac de Combal (~1900m). From here it is possible to access Miage glacier, the least crowded side of Mont Blanc. Bases in this glacier valley are Gonella Hut (Italian normal route of Mont Bland) and Quintano Sella bivouac hut (routes on Miage face). Access to both huts has become more tedious during the recent years because of retreat of Miage glacier.

The most frequented route from Miage glacier is Italian normal route of Mont Blanc, Aiguilles Grises. There are two variations to the route, more favourable depends on the crevasse situation on the glacier. While not much more difficult than French normal routes (upper part is the same), Italian ascent is much longer. Beside Aiguilles Grises, the glacier is also used for climbs on the Miage Face, where Tournette Spur is classic middle grade mixed climb. While never highly technical, it is long and much more sustained than the normal routes. There are several other climbs on the face, mostly mixed and between D and TD.

Glacier de la Lex Blanche

Still further at the end of the Val Veni lies Glacier de la Lex Blanche with Petit Mont Blanc bivouac.

Eastern Val Veni

Just to the East of Entreves lies La Palud from where the Mont Blanc tunnel leads to Chamonix. Also cable car to Pointe Helbronner (Torino hut) leads up to Glacier du Geant (and further to Aiguille du Midi and Chamonix). Further up the valley lies village of Planpincieux from where access route leads to Boccalette Hut that serves as the base for southern ascents on Grandes Jorasses, the most popular ascent from the eastern Val Veni (AD, long and fairly serious). Further up the valley lies Glacier de Pre de Bar.

  • Grandes Jorasses - Dent du GéantSouth side

Val Montjoie

Val Montjoie is located to the west of Mont Blanc group.

Glacier de Tré-la-Tête

In the westernmost part of Mont Blanc area lies Tré-la-Tête glacier. Probably the best known climb here Traverse of Dômes de Miage. It is possible to enchain that with Traverse of Aiguille de Bionassay and Mont Blanc to create long multiday trip. To do so, start from Cugnon and overnight either at Hotel Tré-la-Tête or Conscritis Hut (2580m). Then traverse over Bérangère and all five Dômes de Miage to reach Refugio Durier close to Col de Miage (3367m). From there follow South Ridge to Aiguille de Bionassay, then classic Bionassay Ridge (AD) to Dome du Gouter and finally Bosses Grat (Gouter Ridge) to summit of Mont Bland. If necessary it is possible to descend from Dome du Gouter to Gouter Hut and continue from there the next day. To complete the traverse of the chain, follow Three Mont Blanc route to Aiguille du Midi and well deserved beer in Chamonix.