- Date Hiked: September 9, 2011
- Miles Hiked: 14.0
- Elevation Gain: 6,000'
- Hiking Partner(s): Brian Kooeinga,
Scott Momburg, and Kevin
Continued from Mont Blanc du Tacul.
Video Trip Report
We spent Wednesday evening and Thursday morning licking our wounds and
watching the clouds surround Mont Blanc. Weather conditions did not
appear any better than what we had just experienced and there was
clearly a sense of uncertainty within our group. Brian encouraged us to
stay positive and suggested we head back up the mountain for one more
shot before the trip was over. We reluctantly loaded our packs one more
time, rode the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi, and hiked over to the
Cosmiques Hut for one more night. The wind was strong throughout dinner
and our hopes of climbing Mont Blanc remained low.
We got up at 1:30 am and stepped out on the hutís viewing deck. Strong
winds had continued during the night and Mont Blancís door seemed to be
closing on us. Once again, Brian remained optimistic and said that we
should at least give it an hour before giving up. A guide in the hut
reassured us that the weather would break and winds would die down
within the hour. Several parties had left between 1:30 and 2:30 am as
we waited to make our final decision. The four of us finally geared up
and started across the glacier toward Mont Blanc at 3:05 am.
The wind was not as strong as two days ago, and we made quick work of
the headwall up Mont Blanc du Tacul. Due to the several parties ahead
of us putting in a boot-pack and breaking trail, we made very good time
to the Col Maudit and were quickly closing in on several rope teams. We
were now farther than we had made it on Wednesday and continued to make
reasonable time up the steep north face of Mont Maudit. I was able to
negotiate through other rope teams and effectively pass groups that were
slowing in the steeper section of the route. We finally reached the
crux of the route just below the Col du Mont Maudit at sunrise.
Everyone got chilled as progress slowed and we had to wait for several
parties go through the steep ice and snow. The crux is approximately
150í to 200í of 50 degree snow and ice that has a fixed line.
We topped out on the Col du Mont Maudit at 14,255í and now had a clear
view of Mont Blanc. We had to descend slightly again to the Col de la
Brenva before the final 1,600í push to the summit of Mont Blanc. Brian,
Scott, Kevin, and I shifted into four-wheel drive low and simply grinded
out the remaining climb to the summit of Mont Blanc. It took us 5 hours
and 40 minutes to climb the highest peak in the Alps. We spent 15
minutes on the summit applying sunscreen, taking photos, and
congratulating each other on a successful climb.
The wind had all but subsided, the sun was shining brightly, and we
accomplished our goal. We were in good spirits, but knew that there was
plenty of work left to get back down the mountain. We descended quickly
and found ourselves at the top of the crux. Although ascending the
moderately steep snow/ice pitch proved relatively easy, down-climbing
the same section proved to be more difficult. We simply all took our
time and effectively used our crampons and sole mountain ice axe to
safely reach the base of pitch. With all significant difficulties
behind us, we continued to make good time down the mountain and even
witnessed a helicopter rescue.
We crossed back below Mont Blanc du Tacul and made our final ascent of
the snow arete to the climberís tunnel and cable car station. Our
roundtrip time from the Cosmiques Hut to the Aiguille du Midi 11 hours
and 40 minutes. I guess our ascent time was about the same as our
descent because you have to climb approximately 1,000í to get back to
the gondola on the way out. We rode the lift down to our rental car,
slammed all our gear in the back, and quickly proceeded to make our way
to Grindelwald, Switzerland. Although we didnít have an opportunity to
try and climb the Eiger due to poor weather days, we still wanted to
take a look at the mountain before leaving the country and ending our
trip. We checked into the hostel in Grindelwald, took pictures of the
famed mountain, and then proceeded downtown for a hearty dinner. The
following morning, we drove back to Zurich and quickly found ourselves
on a plane back to the United States.
- Preparing for a final trip into the Alps.
- Brain heading down the plank.
- Hiking back down to the glacier and the
- The views never get old.
- Mont Blanc du Tacul, Mont Maudit, and Mont Blanc.
- The same photo as above with the Three Monts
Traverse route crudely drawn in.
- We climbed much of the ascent in the dark. This was our first
photo just before the crux below Col du Mont
Maudit. We were adding a layer and trying to stay warm waiting for the
parties in front of us.
- James with Mont Blanc within our reach.
- Mont Blanc from near the Co du Mont Maudit
just before we drop down to the Col de la Brenva.
- Brian and Scott taking in the Alps sunrise.
- Kevin capturing the moment.
- James ready to push on.
- Looking back down the route from the flanks of
- Awesome views.
- I plan to go back for more of this.
- Scott's summit photo.
- Brian's summit photo.
- Kevin's summit photo.
- James' summit photo.
- Group summit photo.
- Summit Panorama
- Eat, Drink, Sunscreen
- Heading back down.
- Scott leading the pack to the top of the crux.
- Back below the Col du Mont Maudit.
- The headwall leading to the Col du Mont Maudit
and the crux of the route.
- Another photo of the headwall.
- Helicopter rescue in progress. . .
. . . and it wasn't for Kevin!
- Mont Maudit
- Kevin Self Photo
- Brian and James Self Photo
- The Cosmiques Hut and the cable car station.
- Scott and Brian on the hike out.
- Kevin just above on of the major crevasses we had
- Don't fall in.
- Kevin and James negotiating the terrain.
- The Alps are cool.
- Kevin and another crevasse.
- Hiking back across the glacier one more time.
- Brian heading back up to the lift.
- Scott, Kevin, and James going up one more time
to the gondola ride.
- A sequence of Kevin finishing off the climb.
- A sequence of James and Scott finishing off the climb.
- Packing up and calling an end to the trip.
- Brian, Scott, James, and Kevin
- Our ultimate goal for the European vacation was to climb the Matterhorn,
Mont Blanc, and the Eiger. Due to the
weather days we experienced, we never had a chance to attempt the
Eiger, but two out of three ain't bad. We
did drive to Grindelwald to at least take a look at the Eiger.