Last time round having climbed Mt Blanc using the de Tacul and Mont Maudit route I descended via the Grand Mulet and across the Boissons Glacier to the midi station. Attraction was greater rate of descent, better protection from crap weather, a bit of solitude from the crowds and actually finishing in Chamonix. but these advantages are offset by the crevasse risk which after recent heat wave conditions in France are playing on my mind. What is the Gouter route like on the descent and tackling the Grand Couloir during the afternoon when it is raining stones?
Check in at the guide's office / OHM who will give you bang up to date information. The Grand Mulet can be a fast descent and is really beautiful but in recent years has become more problematic earlier in the season because of collapsed snow bridges and serac risk. The Gouter descent also tends to be dry earlier in the season, personally I have never found it a problem to descend. Just before the Grand Couloir perhaps pause to gather your energy in a safe spot, watch the couloir for stonefall and try to cross when nobody else is on it. Then you can cross smartly to the next safe zone.
Despite appearances, les 3 Monts back to the Midi is always quicker than either les Grands Mulets or the Gouter and usually safer. It's hard to tell yourself this though as you trudge back up to the Midi
Make sure you get up to date info before descending via Grands Mulets - can get very sketchy in the icefall there in summer and there is serac exposure (there were some minor collapses already earlier in the season) although Maudit is also exposed. Having said that, I did see that the north ridge route has been tracked in the past week or two, so there have obviously been some people up there recently. I would check in with the high mountain office first though. For what it's worth, you can descend the trois monts route pretty quickly although the crux pitch on Maudit can present a traffic jam.
We’ve just descended via the Gouter route and I thought it was fine, crossing the Grand couloir was fine but obviously this can vary hour by hour day by day etc. We crossed it at 11.30am and it was ok.
Its a bit of a grind after summiting but we were on the top at 6.30am and caught the 13.35 nid Agle train down.
> We’ve just descended via the Gouter route and I thought it was fine, crossing the Grand couloir was fine but obviously this can vary hour by hour day by day etc. We crossed it at 11.30am and it was ok.
> Its a bit of a grind after summiting but we were on the top at 6.30am and caught the 13.35 nid Agle train down.
Almost exactly what I did last year - depart Tete Roussse at 2am, sunrise at Valot hut, summit 7am, Couloir 11ish, Nid d'Aigle for the half one train.
The couloir is Russian Roulette, although with good odds. If there is a rockfall whe you cross, you won't be able to do much. I'd aim to be across by late morning.
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