/ NEW ARTICLE: How to Climb Mont Blanc - The Two Easiest Routes

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UKC Articles - on 04 Oct 2013
Me just below the summit in moody weather, 2 kb

In this Mont Blanc destination article, Chamonix resident and UKC Gear Reviewer Charlie Boscoe takes us through the two easiest routes up western Europe's highest peak.

With advice on gear, fitness and route choice, this is a must read article for anyone attempting to climb Mont Blanc.



Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=5784
puppythedog on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Nice article
galpinos - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Charlie, that looks suspiciously like a Rovers emblem your shorts.......
Charlie Boscoe - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to galpinos: Afraid so! Your team is your team, no matter how bad things get :(
pneame on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: excellent and comprehensive. With great pictures
Sankey - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Just what Chamonix needs, more virtual advice about how to climb Mont Blanc featuring someone wearing shorts on a glacier...

Babika - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Good factual article.
I hope it inspires and gives confidence to more people to do it unguided.

<ducks to avoid missiles>
Jon Bracey - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

4810m Charlie!!!!
galpinos - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

I'm in the same boat. :(
Robert Durran - on 05 Oct 2013
In reply to Sankey:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) Just what Chamonix needs, more virtual advice about how to climb Mont Blanc featuring someone wearing shorts on a glacier...

why?



Robert Durran - on 05 Oct 2013
In reply to Babika:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
>
> I hope it inspires and gives confidence to more people to do it unguided.
>
> <ducks to avoid missiles>

why?

Sankey - on 05 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> why?

Well, the shorts thing just seems a bit daft and unnecessary. I know the picture is taken near a path on a warm day, but in the context of the article, it seems to present a certain brits abroad: look we're doing Mont blanc AND wearing shorts attitude. People freeze to death within a mile of that spot.

As for the whole article, I don't see a need for it, Mont blanc by those routes is overpopular as it is, and I don't see why ukc should encourage keen hillwalkers to try it. Also suggesting you can pick up the skills to ascend it in a few days before hand is optimistic. The reality up there is there lots of poorly acclimatised climbers lacking basic crampon skills, and far more commited than they realise. I read a good article about a guide trying to turnaround a stumbling climber on mb recently, that would be a good companion piece to this.
ledifer on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Sankey:

well I thought it was very good.
I'm not about to print it off and use that as my route guide attempting it in flip flops with only a flask of tea and a Mars bar. But I found it inspiring that such a high and famous mountain could possibly be within the grasp of your average cragging / hillwalking punter.

Give it a few years and a few more trips to snowdonia and Scotland, and hopefully I'll be ready to give it a go.



angry pirate - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
Thanks for a well written and inspiring article.
Ben Sharp - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Sankey: Articles like this always get the same tired response, "don't give people information on how to do dangerous things because they might get hurt". I thought it made it perfectly clear that MB is a serious objective and throughout the article it mentioned the need for the correct knowledge and skills, acclimatization and fitness without ramming it down your throat.

There's nothing more tiring than reading a preachy article where every second sentence is a disclaimer about how risky something is and how prepared you need to be. The article made the risks and preparation clear and it read like it was intended for an intelligent audience who were capable of understanding plain English without having it repeated over and over again.

And as for the shorts thing, get a grip, "daft and unnecessary"...what? I think you're reading far too much into someone's choice of clothing. I'm not sure what the "look we're doing MB AND wearing shorts attitude is" but have you considered the possibility that the motivation was comfort instead of making some sort of statement? The article made it clear that warm clothing was necessary (including a kit list), there's nothing unsafe about wearing shorts to stay cool and having warm clothes in the bag. Yes the Brits do have a "look" abroad which isn't always the most fashionable but it's hardly a safety issue and it sounds like you're just having a pointless rant.

Accidents and deaths happen in the mountains for various reasons, withholding accurate information from people to deter them from trying something challenging is probably the most ludicrous solution. I have no idea why it's such a standard response and it always comes across as elitist and contradictory. Complaining about people being unprepared and then complaining at "virtual advice" on how to prepare!
Sankey - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: fair enough Ben, is just my view, you are welcome to disagree...
GeoffRadcliffe - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: Very well put.
Charlie Boscoe - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Thanks for the largely positive feedback everyone, much appreciated.

One small point - is it just me or does it grate slightly when the UKC complainers lack the courage to post under a real name? I rarely comment on articles (they are provided free of charge so I'd have to feel pretty strongly to complain!) but if I did, I wouldn't say anything that I wouldn't be willing to say to someone's face. The fact that pseudonyms are so common suggests that others might not share this ethic...

Thanks again for those who were complimentary, almost all of whom use their real name :)
Charlie Boscoe - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Oh yeah, and you were right about 4810 Jon. According to Wikipedia it is now 4810 but I failed to check this and just went with the Francois Damilano book. My bad!
Cuthbert on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

It's a good article but shorts are a poor choice. A friend and I were walking on the Glacier d' Argentiere in 1997. He had shorts on, I didn't. He fell into a crevasse and in the process dislocated his shoulder. He was hanging free and unable to rescue himself and I was nearly pulled in too but managed to get an anchor in the snow.

He was very close to death when he was pulled out due to wearing shorts and other poor clothing choices. It's cold in a crevasse.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba:
> It's cold in a crevasse.

It can also be unbearably hot on a glacier......
Mountaineering is full of these little decisions.

Charlie Boscoe - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba: Good point but given that the only "glacier" encountered that day is a flat 100m ridge, equipped with a handrail, I was willing to risk it.
JohnnyW - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

We walked over the wee glacier at the Tete Rousse and on up to the new Gouter this year, and all of us wore shorts. It was roasting! We did get some looks, but as you say Charlie, we were willing to risk it there.

I wouldn't on a more serious glacial situation, as I'm sure you wouldn't.

I also have short sleeves in similar situations.

You makes yer choices.......
Sankey - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Charlie Boscoe: My real name is super easy to find from my profile, I am Steve Ebbens, live in Sheffield, 38, Libra etc! hi!

There is no attempt at smoke and mirrors, I just like my profile name and can't be bothered to change it when making a point that may prompt debate.

Charlie Boscoe - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Sankey: Thanks Steve, I appreciate that.
Sankey - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Charlie Boscoe: No worries! I will admit the first reply was very glib, so apologies for that (sent after Friday lunch in the pub!). But as you can see from the second, I did have some reasons for it.

I think if you write a destination guide to say Ceuse, it is clear that the article does not claim to tell you how to go sport climbing, or encourage people to do so directly. If you write a pure instructional article then what you write will be subject to extreme scrutiny, but then again, you are not stipulating where, or at what level the technical skills will be used.

However for ones like this I am a bit uncomfortable with the mixing of these two streams, saying you need these skills to achieve a given goal, as it leaves very little wriggle room. Don't get me wrong though, it is a well written article, and obviously you are well qualified to deliver it, just makes me personally uneasy.
Charlie Boscoe - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Sankey: I can see where you're coming from here but for me it's good to quantify the skill level required. I think anyone who has (quoting the article) "well practised ice axe skills" and can move in any direction on 30 - 35 degree snow and front point 45 degrees is pretty competent. Although the mountain is serious, the reality is that you don't need to be highly technically competent, more glacier-savvy, which I emphasised.

Obviously impossible to measure but I reckon that most people who come unstuck on MB wouldn't have the skill level I describe, or at least wouldn't have the glacier travel skills, so if anything I think it might encourage people to learn a bit more before attempting it.

I could be wrong though!
Wild Isle - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Great article but a minor comment about the gear list. You mention a helmet is advisable as there is some rockfall hazard. I thought the BMC debunked the helmets for rockfall myth a few years ago. Far more people get head injuries more from falling than from rockfall. If you're writing guide descriptions for climbing in an environment like the alps the advice should be to wear a helmet period. (For your legal protection as well as the climbers.)
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Wild Isle:
> I thought the BMC debunked the helmets for rockfall myth a few years ago.

That's daft. Surely you are mistaken.
pec on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: I note the article says that the 3 Monts route is considered more objectively dangerous. I'm not saying it isn't, I don't know but I'd be interested to know if there are any stats comparing accidents on each.
I've always avoided the Gouter on account of the number of horror stories I've heard about the rockfall. My understanding is that people are killed there on a fairly regular basis. The 3 Monts does have a few serac fall/avalanche accidents which get a lot of publicity because of the number killed in one go but they don't happen very often.
I've prefered to take my chances on a route which has a serac fall once every few years rather than one which has daily rockfall on a pretty big scale.
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to pec:
> I've always avoided the Gouter on account of the number of horror stories I've heard about the rockfall. My understanding is that people are killed there on a fairly regular basis. The 3 Monts does have a few serac fall/avalanche accidents which get a lot of publicity because of the number killed in one go but they don't happen very often.

I'm not sure either is actually particularly dangerous by alpine standards. It's just that the routes are so busy that when something does go, there's likely to be someone in the way. Is the risk for an individual capable of moving quickly in the danger zone really that bad?
Enty - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:
> (In reply to galpinos) Afraid so! Your team is your team, no matter how bad things get :(

Keep the faith Bro ;-)

E
pec on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to pec)

> I'm not sure either is actually particularly dangerous by alpine standards. It's just that the routes are so busy that when something does go, there's likely to be someone in the way. Is the risk for an individual capable of moving quickly in the danger zone really that bad? >

I've never considered the 3 Monts area as unreasonably dangerous, 1 big avalanche every few years perhaps? Unfortunately, as you say, there's probably going to be someone under it when it does though.
The Grand Couloir however seems to be raked by significant stonefall for a large part of most days. I can't think of many areas I've ever been where that is so, certainly not that I knew would be like that before I got there!
A "Grand Couloir Rockfall" search on youtube makes for sobering viewing should anyone be contemplating that route.

Luca Signorelli - on 09 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Hi Charlie, nice article and some sound advice here. However, I think you should add

1) something specific on weather and mountain conditions. Weather is, with altitude and lack of fitness, the great killer on MB. I would probably mention also there's an weather forecast / mountain conditions service available in Chamonix. I know this should be a no brainer, but you've no idea how many people go climbing / hiking on MB completely ignoring weather or condition advice.

2) something on how to call rescue. Again, in theory this should be only an extreme measure , but in practice, in the last few years the number of daily rescues on the normal routes of MB has skyrocketed.

Luca Signorelli - on 09 Oct 2013
In reply to pec:

> I've never considered the 3 Monts area as unreasonably dangerous, 1 big avalanche every few years perhaps? Unfortunately, as you say, there's probably going to be someone under it when it does though.

The problem is that in the last few years there's been fatalities on the 3MB because of avalanches or serac fall almost every seasons. And some of these have happened in pristine conditions and at very prudent hour.

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