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Photo of Nicolas climbing a small ice wall

The Mont-Blanc course (well, almost...)

··468 words·3 mins
Blog Travel Mountaineering
Nicolas Lorin
Author
Nicolas Lorin

At the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, my sister and I agreed to climb Mont-Blanc the following summer (summer 2018).

To do this, we contacted Roc Ecrins (formerly Roc Odyssée), an organization that organizes mountain holidays. They offered two formulas for the climb:

  • 3 days preparation, two days for the ascent ;
  • 2 days preparation, three days climbing.

The advantage of the latter was that it offered a wider window of opportunity to attempt the summit. So we opted for August 6 to 10.

After a bit of shopping (well, a lot), we headed off the weekend before the course to enjoy the mountains around Les Houches.

From La Côte, we climbed up to Col de Voza and then back down via Vaudagne. This little jaunt through the mountain pastures was already quite a change of scenery for us Parisians. We also climbed to the Aiguillette des Houches, the Pointe de Lapaz and then descended via the Col de Bel Lachat (in the rain, incidentally).

On the morning of August 6, we arrived at the meeting point: the parking lot at Les Houches.

We met our guide (Bruno Mazier) and the other two members of our group. We borrowed the equipment we needed (boots, crampons, ice axe) and then drove to Le Tour, where we took the gondola. After a short walk, we arrived at the Albert 1er refuge.

We took advantage of the afternoon to learn how to walk on the Tour glacier, roped up with crampons, “climb” a small ice wall, etc…

The next day, we climbed up to Tête Blanche. A superb first experience.

We then headed back down into the valley to rest up for the rest of the trip. We knew that the heatwave was making conditions difficult on Mont-Blanc, so we weren’t too surprised when our guide announced that we wouldn’t be able to do it as planned. No guides were climbing Mont-Blanc at the time.

We took advantage of the evening to discover the second guide who would be accompanying us for the rest of the trip. They suggested replacing Mont-Blanc with a trip to the Monte Rosa massif in Italy, which the whole group agreed to do.

On the morning of the 8th, we headed for Italy to Gressonney. We took the lifts and then walked to the Gnifetti refuge. We relaxed in the refuge in preparation for the next day.

Early in the morning (or late at night, as the case may be), we headed for Parrotspitze and on to Ludwigshöhe. So much to remember.

After a well-deserved night’s sleep, we set off again for the Vincent Pyramid and then began our descent.

We then finished off our stay by doing some touristy things: sightseeing, a little via ferrata, a swimming pool…

View from the Via Ferrata
View from the Via Ferrata