/ Mont Blanc - Different Tac

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Alistair - on 15 Sep 2016
Ok so I have posted a few messages here on Mont blanc, apologies if Im starting to grind on people a bit, however fore warned is for armed and all that.

I really like the idea of climbing the mountain on my own terms - i.e. self sufficient. Is there any way whatsoever that I can avoid using mountain huts (yes even this is relying on other resources in my mind). My ideal would be to spend 2-3 nights on the mountain if possible.

Taking into account all the extra risks and associated logistics involved, are there physical/legal reasons I have to use a hut.
Alpenglow - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:

Bivvy outside the Gouter Hut, or if doing it from the Aiguille du Midi side either bivvy at the lift station or in the small hut below the Cosmiques hut.
Alistair - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Alpenglow:
That sounds great if your "passing through" or planning on spending just the odd night, but what about using it as some form of base camp scenario.

I was hoping to be able to get above the lifts, then do some rotations "Climb high sleep low" over a period of 2-3 days, sleeping at the same place.

Is this feasible

Also you mention bivvy as apposed to Camp - from what I can find and hear it sounds a s though camping is as trict no no anywhere on the mountain
Post edited at 12:50
Pids - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:
> I really like the idea of climbing the mountain on my own terms - i.e. self sufficient.

Err, you could always, you know, carry a tent with you - it has been done before that way


http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=32865

Just take the tent down in the morning and carry it with you, leaving it up for days at a time (especially in summer) is frowned upon
Post edited at 15:07
Misha - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:
Camping is generally tolerated away from the huts. There are often tents below the Cosmiques. Bivvying isn't too bad if the weather is nice and there's no wind. If you're looking at going on your own steam without using the lifts, that's a massive slog up...
alasdair19 on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:

if I wanted a purist experience on mont blanc I would definitely climb it from the Italian side. If as many as 2 % of the climbers summiting are from that side I'd be surprised.

there was a thread recently about the normal . route from Italy I'm sure some of the posters there could tell you about bivvy options. there are some lovely bivvy huts on the Italian side too for acclimatising.
Rob Exile Ward on 15 Sep 2016
Ian reply to Alistair:

Er no, this is not a big deal whatever you may think. when we did it we never considered using a hut; day 1 to the Gouter but bivvi nearby, (there were plenty of scrapes in the snow to provide a bit of shelter, though it was a bit cold); then up at midnight, first on top, and back down to Les Houches the same day. Avoiding the cable car and TMB would add a few hours, so you could take 3 days if you wanted, I suppose.
OwenM - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to alasdair19:

> if I wanted a purist experience on mont blanc I would definitely climb it from the Italian side.


I'd second that.

MG - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:

> I was hoping to be able to get above the lifts, then do some rotations "Climb high sleep low" over a period of 2-3 days, sleeping at the same place.

I'm sure this is possible but why not head somewhere else first and do more than one peak?

> Also you mention bivvy as apposed to Camp - from what I can find and hear it sounds a s though camping is as trict no no anywhere on the mountain

Pretty much, for good reasons.

Alistair - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Misha:

Ye long haul with a full pack.
Alistair - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to alasdair19:

I guess that would be more expensive to get to?
Misha - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:
Not really, there's a coach from Cham to Courmayeur which is 15 and then a bus up the valley from where you walk in which is a couple of Euros. However all the routes on the Italian side are bigger and wilder and generally require more experience (though the normal Italian route is presumably not too hard, don't know).
Simon4 - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Misha:
> though the normal Italian route is presumably not too hard, don't know

Even the normal route on the Italian side is bigger, more remote, requires a lot more walk-in and there is some objective danger in reaching the hut.

It is also a LOT longer than the Gouter route, and has the considerable disadvantage of sharing the last third of it with that route, so joins the procession of the damned at that point.
Post edited at 11:51
Mark Haward - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:

You could walk from the valley and bivvy near the Tete Rousse hut. It is perfectly possible to summit from Tete Rousse if you are well acclimatised and fit. Otherwise, early morning start ( to reduce stonefall risk ) from there to Gouter hut area and bivvy. Next day leave bivvy kit and summit, return for bivvy gear.
There is plenty of snow for water near both huts.
Alistair - on 16 Sep 2016
At the risk of extending this and taking it off topic........

What constitutes a "bivvy", the concept of no tent is a new one to me - new in the sense I have never tried it before. Is ti a case of piling on the layers, and bedding down in a sleeping bag in a polythene survival bag or is there a bit more to it than that?
streapadair - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon4:

> the procession of the damned

"So many, I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet . . ."


Misha - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:
There is - sleeping mat! You might not need a bivvy bag if the weather is nice but it's a good idea to use one, especially if you're on snow rather than rock. It's won't be polythene though, more like goretex or similar.
GrahamD - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:

Make a snow wall to shelter from the wind and a bivvy in good weather with a good bag is pretty warm. For summit day you can stash your bivvy gear if you are coming down the same way.
Bob Aitken - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:

I suggest it would be well worth your while to get hold of Will McLewin's 'In Monte Viso's Horizon' where he gives lots of good, enthusiastic, realistic, practical advice on high alpine bivvying from his vast experience in climbing all the 4000m peaks. Great yarns and fantastic alpine photos too.
James Gilbert on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Alistair:

When you say self-sufficient, do you also mean that you're thinking of doing MB solo? If so, I don't think the Italian normal route is to be recommended...
Simon4 - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to streapadair:

Never try to climb it in April - it is the cruelest month!
Simon4 - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Bob Aitken:
> Will McLewin - Great yarns and fantastic alpine photos too.

Very true - mad as a box of frogs as well, a true British eccentric.
Post edited at 14:27
kenr - on 17 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon4:
> Never try to climb it in April

. . . "different tac" . . .
I climbed "le vrai Mont Blanc" in mid-April about five years ago. Started in the center of Chamonix walking on the streets. Hiked up to the tunnel entrance. Put skis on a little higher. No problem crossing the Jonction (big snowpack that season covered the crevasses well, there and higher -- why I felt it was OK to solo). Saw a light as I passed below the Refuge Grands Mulets.

Kicked my own steps on the upper section of the North ridge of the Dome du Gouter (because the other parties who had started from the hut were going _up_ the Gd Mu glacier (underneath me and the poised seracs). Left my skis at Col du Dome (because surface was icy higher). Feeling pretty tired above there. Two thoughts on reaching the Mont Blanc summit: (1) View not so different from other high peaks in France; (2) So glad that I made it, so I'll never have to do it again.

No mechanical lifts or trains. Carried all my own food and water.

No bivy or tent, because no sleeping.

. . (another party of two from Austria + Switz did the same thing on the same night).

Yes it's long, so . . .
I just slogged along average +250 vertical meters per hour for about fifteen hours. Started before midnight at the valley floor in Chamonix. Reached the summit before two o'clock afternoon.

In previous days, I had spent some time acclimatizing - (otherwise I'm no good above elevation 2500 meters). Wished my acclimatization had been better, since I really felt tired on the Bosses ridge. Since then I've worked out better methods.

Ken
Post edited at 09:48
Simon4 - on 18 Sep 2016
In reply to kenr:
I wasn't really suggesting you shouldn't climb it (or ski it) in April.

A continuation of the "Wasteland" theme, the first line of which is :

"April is the cruelest month"

While Strepadair's quote is from later on in the first section.

So to think that it should not be skied in April (well done, BTW),

"That is not what I meant at all"

(Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock).

Just a slightly laboured and arcane joke.
Post edited at 16:15
Simon4 - on 18 Sep 2016
In reply to kenr:

"In the Alps the women come and go,
Speaking of seracs and glacier flow"
ads.ukclimbing.com
Simon4 - on 18 Sep 2016
In reply to kenr:

BTW, as the lawyers say, for the avoidance of doubt, that sounds seriously impressive and hardcore.

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