This page will be kept in honour of the SP member Rahel Maria Liu, the former owner of this page, died on 25 August 2004 in a freak snowstorm on the Innominata Ridge (Southern side of Monte Bianco) at the age of 34.
Mont Blanc du Tacul is one of Mont Blanc Group main summits, together with Mont Blanc 4810 m, Monte Bianco di Courmayeur 4765 m, Mont Maudit 4465 m, Dôme du Gouter 4304 m, Aiguille de Bionassay 4025 m. The mountain is entirely located on the French side of the massif, between the Aiguille du Midi and the Mont Maudit. The summit is made up of two peaks: the W peak, the highest, from which originates a northward ridge that forms the Northern shoulder 4130 m, and the E peak.
The mountain is positioned on the long succession of peaks starting with the Aiguille du Midi and rising to the main summit of Mont Blanc. Along this ridge it is located the 3 Monts Blanc route (Mont Blanc du Tacul, Mont Maudit and Mont Blanc), the finest route among the Normal ones to summit the Mont Blanc.
Mont Blanc du Tacul is a very complex mountain, full of walls, ridges, gullies, pillars, towers and gendarmes. The stunning Mont Blanc du Tacul overlooks the Valleé Blanche with its Eastern face. This sunny and magnificent East side is a complex, high and large slope showing towers, gullies and spurs interspersed with snow and ice gullies, absolutely fascinating. At its feet are located the so-called "satellites of Mont Blanc du Tacul", beautiful spiers characterized by excellent granite quality and therefore offering several and beautiful rock climbing routes. The Western side of the mountain is instead almost entirely covered by ice with a slope covered by crevasses and seracs. On this ice slope it runs the Normal route to the summit, a 3 hours of climb away from the Refuge des Cosmiques along the glacier on the NW with variety of snow and ice types. From the Aiguille du Midi cable car you can reach the refuge by descending about 300 meters (45 mn). The route is not very long but take care of snow, seracs, and weather conditions.
It can become cold and windy in a very short time. In clouds it's not easy to find the route on the glacier and there are some big crevasses near Col du Midi. The way from col du Midi to the summit is at first a steep glacier walk with difficulty PD+. That is a reasonable difficulty for crevassed route. The second part of the ascent route to the "Epaule" is exposed: long steep snow/ice slope over some big serac cliffs. The last 30 meters to the summit are of ice and rocks and partially exposed over the steep East face. This route can be combined with the ridge ''Arete des Cosmiques '' on the Aiguille du Midi. Difficulty AD with rockclimbing III+.
Mont Blanc du Tacul is one of the most climbed peaks in Chamonix Valley because of its location along the 3 Mount Blanc route and its short access from the Aiguille du Midi cable car. Don't forget the objective dangers of this face (Snow or Seracs avalanches, crevasses, fog), especially when coming back late from long routes (Mt Blanc du Tacul East side, Mont Maudit routes, Mont Blanc 3M route, or Mont Blanc Traverse).
As told Mont Blanc du Tacul is also known in reason of it's steep and rock and ice East face (see routes and links for details). Below is a hint of the best classic routes of the East face:
- Couloir Gervasutti (800hm, 3450m to 4228m, D-, 2-8h, start from Cosmiques hut or Torino hut)
- Pilier Boccalatte (800hm, 3430m to 4248m,TD, 5-7h, start from Cosmiques hut or Torino hut)
- Pilier Gervasutti (800hm, 3400m to 4248m,TD, 7-10h, start from Cosmiques hut or Torino hut)
The first ascent of the peak was probably done by one or more members of the Hudson-Kennedy team in the year 1855, August 8th. Important and fine routes that have made the history of mountain climbing are the Couloir Gervasutti (Renato Chabod and Giusto Gervasutti, 1934 August 13th), the Pilier Boccalatte (Ninì Pietrasanta and Gabriele Boccalatte, 1936 August 28th) and the Pilier Gervasutti, attempted in the year 1946, September 16th by Giusto Gervasutti, who died in the attempt while abseiling because of bad weather. Several years later this pilier was climbed by Piero Fornelli and Giovanni Mauro in the year 1951, July 29-30 and dedicated to Gervasutti. Subsequently, numerous high-difficulty routes were realized both on rock and on ice, on the satellites and on the rock pillars and on the couloir glaciers of the East wall, among which several even in very recent years.
The best starting point to climb is Chamonix Mont Blanc, lying on the French side of Mont Blanc, close to the entrance of Tunnel of Monte Bianco; the peak can be reached also from Courmayeur, in the Italian side of Monte Bianco, but the approach walk is quite longer.
You reach the Chamonix Valley by train:
- From Martigny (Switzerland) via Vallorcine
- From Geneva (airport) via Anncey (TGV till here) and St. Gervais
You reach the Chamonix Valley by bus:
- From/via Annecy, Geneva, Grenoble, Courmayeur, Aoste and Turin
You reach Chamonix by car from Switzerland:
- From Martigny follow the road leading to the Switzerland – France border, then to the village of Argentiere and to Chamonix (44 km. from Martigny, 12 km. from the border).
- From Geneva follow the E25 Motorway to St. Gervais les Bains, then the RN 205 to Chamonix
You reach Chamonix by car from Italy
- From Courmayeur through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Once getting to Chamonix take the Téléphérique de l’Aiguille du Midi. Info on COMPAGNIE DU MONT BLANC
Another possible starting point is Courmayeur, lying in the Italian side of Monte Bianco, close to the entrance of Tunnel of Monte Bianco.
- From Turin and Milan: follow the A5-E25 Motorway and exit Courmayeur, reaching the hamlet of La Palud m. 1370.
- From France: through the Tunnel of Monte Bianco
- From Switzerland: through the Great St.Bernard Tunnel or the Great St.Bernard Col or via Chamonix and Tunnel of Monte Bianco.
Getting to Rifugio Torino
From Entrèves - La Palud take the cable-car leading directly to Punta Helbronner or Rifugio Torino (Rifugio Torino exit second station, the first one is the middle Pavillion station, the third one is Punta Helbronner).FUNIVIE DEL MONTE BIANCO
The approach from Rifugio Torino or Punta Helbronner to the route on the East side is done across the Glacier du Geant. The approach to the Normal route requires the complete traverse across the glacier to the Aiguille du Midi.
1. To the Mont Blanc du Tacul
- You can approach from the Ref. Cosmiques/Biv. Abri Simond
- You can approach from the Rif. Torino or the upper Punta Helbronner
2. To the Refuge Cosmiques and the Bivouac Abri Simond
- You reach the Aig. du Midi with cable car from Chamonix. In Chamonix take the Téléphérique de l’Aiguille du Midi. Info on COMPAGNIE DU MONT BLANC
From the upper cable-car station of Aiguille du Midi you reach the hut in about 1/2 h. If you leave the cable car station via the bridge, you go to the Southsummit. On the firn ridge, you go down with SE-direction to an even ridgeplatform on the glacier. Then turn right to the S and SW-direction below the S-face of the Aig. du Midi. Pay attention to crevasses!
3. To the Rifugio Torino
- You reach Rifugio Torino or the upper Punta Helbronner directly with the cable car from Entrèves/Courmayeur (Italy). From Entrèves - La Palud take the cable-car leading directly to Punta Helbronner or Rifugio Torino (Rifugio Torino exit second station, the first one is the middle Pavillion station, the third one is Punta Helbronner). FUNIVIE DEL MONTE BIANCO Pay attention: The Helbronner-Aiguille du Midi cable car, traversing the Géant glacier, is mostly closed.
The approach from Rifugio Torino or Punta Helbronner to the routes on the East side is done across the Glacier du Geant. The approach to the Normal route require the complete traverse across the glacier to the Aiguille du Midi.
The Mont Blanc du Tacul has altogether more than 40 different routes. Some of them are:
A. North-West flank
- Normal route PD+, 40°, mostly less, very fine glacier-tour with partly big crevasses! After new snowfall, avalanches also in summer are possible! 700 hm from Col du Midi, 2,5 h (Eberlein). See here on SP the full description: Mont Blanc du Tacul NW Flank Normal route
B. Triangle and North face (the order of the following routes: from W to E (according to Damilano/Perroux)
1. Chéré couloir:
2. Goulotte du sérac : III 4. 180 m
3. Goulotte Perroux : III 4+, 5b, 350 hm, ice till 70°
4. Le temps est assassin : II 4. 350 hm, mixed
5. Eperon N. : III 4. 350 hm, ice till 50°
6. Contamine Mazeaud rectifiée : III 4. 350 hm, ice till 80°
7. Contamine Mazeaud : II AD+. 350 hm, ice till 65°
8. Directissime : III 4+. 350 hm
9. Gabbarou-Marquis : III 4. 350 hm, ice till 65°
10. Contamine Grisolles : II AD. 350 hm, ice till 60°
11. Petit Frounet : II D. 350 hm
12. Contamine-Négri : IV 2. 350 hm, ice till 70°
13. Voie diagonale : III AD+. 350 hm
14. Pibarot-ci, Pibarot-1à : V 4 à 5. 500 hm
15. La main dans le sac : V 5 à 6. 500 hm
16. La tête dans les Etoiles : V 5 à 6. 500 hm
17. Arête E : IV 2. 600 hm, ice till 70°
C. East Face (order of the routes from N to S according to Damilano/Perroux
1. Scotch on the Rocks: IV 7, M. 450 hm
2. Pinochio: IV 6+. 450 hm
3. Modica-Noury: III 5+. 500 hm
5 Hidden Couloir: III 4, 4c, 600 hm, ice till 80°, mixed
6. Direct climbing of the Hidden Couloir: IV 5. 200 m
7. Couloir Jaeger: II D. 600 m, ice till 60°, beautiful couloir
8. Couloir Gervasutti (classic climbing out to the right side/Terray-Lachenal) :
8. Couloir Gervasutti (climbing out to the left side/Chabod-Gervasutti): V 1, 800 hm, ice till 60° (Damilano/Perroux)
9. Couloir Macho: IV 2, 800 hm, ice till 70°
All information concerning the valuation of the routes' difficulty (except explicit reference to other books) according to Damilano/Perroux, Neige, Glace Et Mixte: Mont Blanc. Chamonix: Editions Ice, 1996. ISBN 2950986803. PP. 263-285.
Mont Blanc du Tacul (4.248m), right route
More Classic east face routes:
20. Pilier Boccalatte (Boccalatte-Pietrasanta 1936) D/TD - 800m
21. Pilier Gervasutti (Fornelli-Mauro 1951) TD/TD sup - 800m
22. Couloir du Diable and SE ridge (Boccalatte-Chabod 1930) D - 800m
D. South Face
Some almost forgotten routes starting from the Cirque Maudit, first climbed at the beginning of the last century (1902-1914)
further info are missing, should be "classic" high mountain routes.
The second longest glacier in the Alps after the Aletsch Glacier is descending from Mont Blanc du Tacul to the Chamonix Valley. Its highest part is named Glacier du Géant and Vallée Blanche (White Valley) and the part from ice fall to the end is named Mer de Glace (Ice sea).
There are no permits or fees required. There is no seasonal closure.
Mountaineering: from July to September
Ski-mountaineering: from March to June
1. Ref. des Cosmiques (3613 m)
The Ref. des Cosmiques is situated on a shoulder between the Col du Midi and the SW-ridge of the Aig. du Midi (Cosmiques-ridge).
according to Eberlein (p. 52):
2. Abri Simond Bivouac
The Abri Simond Bivouac is situated just a few meters northern of the Ref. des Cosmiques, just at the beginning of the Arête des Cosmiques.
3. Rif. Torino (3322m/3375m)
The Rif. Torino has 2 huts, the lower and older one and the upper, new one. Both huts are connected by a tunnel.
The lower old one according to Eberlein(pp. 64-65):
the upper new one according to Eberlein (pp. 65-65):
Chamonix is a primary destination, offering various kind of accomodation (hotels, huts, gites, renting rooms). Numberless campsites are situated both in the Northern and Southern ends of the town.
- Camping la Mer de Glace - Les Praz (3 km. North to Chamonix) +33(0)450534403
- Camping les Deux Glaciers - Les Bossons (3 km. South to Chamonix) +33(0)450531584
- Camping les Arolles - close to the centre of Chamonix - +33(0)450531430
- Camping les Cimes - Les Bossons (3 km. South to Chamonix) +33(0)450535893
- Camping les Marmottes - +33(0)450536124
- Camping Glacier d'Argentière - Argentière (8 km. North to Chamonix) +33(0)450541736
- Office de la Haute Montagne de Chamonix Phone +33 0450 532208 (9:00-12:00 & 15:00-18:00 during the summer) Office de la Haute Montagne Chamonix (OHM)
- Cable-car informations Phone +33 0450 532275 Compagnie du MontBlanc
- Office du Tourisme de Chamonix Phone +33 0450 530024 Chamonix Mont-Blanc
You can get excellent information about weather, conditions and routes at the "Compagnie des Guides de Hauts Montagnes" (cieguides-chamonix.com, tel: 50 53 00 88) or the "Maison de la Montagne" at the "place de l'Église" in Chamonix. Don't be afraid to step into their building, its common practice, people are constantly walking in and out. By no means you are expected to hire a guide when you visit.
2. GENERAL INFOS:
3. TRAIN (CHAMONIX VALLEY):
4. BUS (CHAMONIX VALLEY):
5. CABLE CARS
"Monte Bianco Vol. 2" Guida Vallot by François Labande
"The Mont Blanc Massif - The 100 Finest Routes" by Gaston Rebuffat - London 1996
3630 OT (Chamonix) Institut Géographique National - 1:25000
3531 OT (St Gervais) 1:25000
This page has been build mostly by Rahel Maria Liu, an early SummitPost member died for hypotermia on 24-25 August 2004 after being caught in a freak snowstorm while attempting to climb the Innominata Spur on the Southern (Italian) side of Mont Blanc. She was only 34 years old.
Edward Allen, her climbing companion (a British climber known some days early), was saved by an helicopter of the Italian Rescue team. Rahel was a charter member during SP early days and her work here remains among the best of SP's collected contributions. Her knowledge and experience has made an impact on the world mountaineering community, and her warmth and friendship will be long remembered among her many friends and fellow members here at SummitPost. She will be greatly missed by us all. Continued maintenance of this page is in her memory.