Mont Blanc - The Finest Routes

Mont Blanc - The Finest Routes, 193 kb
This book, a collection of 101 of the finest routes in the Mont Blanc Massif, is a fantastic piece of work. Essentially taking over from the now somewhat out of date book by Gaston Rebuffat - The Mont Blanc Massif: The Hundred Finest Routes, Phillippe Batoux, with his new book, has certainly done justice to the most famous, and arguably finest, climbing region in Europe.

The first thing I did with this book was to check the routes list, and total up how many I have already climbed! A measly 17, well, not too bad I thought. After having a quick look at some of the routes I knew well, I flicked through the book, and as expected came across famous routes that I already had on my wish-list, beautifully photographed, and interestingly described. But, it was the routes I had never heard of that made this book a real gem.

A prime example of such an unsung beauty is Stupenda on the Aiguille du Tacul, what a line! And a face I had previously overlooked. A dribble of ice, looking pencil thin on the topo, and guarded by a granite offwidth that may not have been free climbed, and all short enough to be home in time for tea. Thank you to Batoux for bringing this mini-adventure to my attention!

The snowy step below the Gendarme des Cosmiques., 117 kb
The snowy step below the Gendarme des Cosmiques.
© Philippe Batoux/Vertebrate Publishing

The overall feel of the book is very well polished. The photography in general is fantastic, although there are a few ropey shots scattered amongst the pages here and there, but I understand how gargantuan a task it is to take professional quality photographs in the mountains. What did come across in the book is a slight sense of ego, or elitism. Perhaps it is just a tip of the hat to some of the alps' finer climbers, but it did seem that if you are 'a face' around Chamonix, then your photograph will be captioned with your name, and if you are not, then well, your name is not mentioned.

The topos and descriptions are a nice touch, giving a little extra information on routes that could otherwise seem unobtainably complex. However their isn't enough info to replace a guidebook, and this book shouldn't be thought of in that way.

These minor points do little to detract from the overall brilliance of the publication. For those who want a coffee table book to inspire them for their next trip to the alps, then this is clearly THE book to choose and whilst Rebuffat's tome may be slightly on the old side, it is still worth a look for those who are in the market for alpine inspiration, and both books together make a fine library of alpine adventures, perhaps enough to keep even the most ardent ticker occupied for some time to come.

Mont Blanc - The Finest Routes - Sample Spread, 240 kb
Mont Blanc - The Finest Routes - Sample Spread
© Vertebrate Publishing

The last snow slope before the mixed ground below the Flèche Rousse., 206 kb
The last snow slope before the mixed ground below the Flèche Rousse.
© Philippe Batoux/Vertebrate Publishing

Mont Blanc - The Finest Routes, 193 kb
What Vertebrate Publishing Say:

Now available from Vertebrate Publishing, Mont Blanc – The Finest Routes is a collection of the 100 must-do climbing routes in the Mont Blanc Massif. Modern alpinism is a multi-faceted activity for which the Mont Blanc Massif is the perfect playground. Classic routes to which every mountaineer can aspire are surrounded by the towering rock faces, huge mixed walls, precipitous ice shields, serrated ridges and narrow gullies that define the massif's harder climbs. In order to attain these prestigious summits via the most interesting routes, this book presents a modern selection of 100 must-do climbs, ranging from historic classics to more recent lines, described in order of increasing difficulty. Author and mountain guide Philippe Batoux provides a comprehensive account of each route, outlining its history and atmosphere and giving all the technical information needed to climb it. These written descriptions are complemented by photo diagrams and detailed topos. In addition, every route is illustrated with superbly evocative photos that make best use of the book's large format.

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