The Ascent of the Mont-Blanc by the Gouter Route (4810 m) – 18th Sept 2009
Patrick, Pierre and Pascal
Ascending the Mt Blanc once during your mountaineering life is part of the game. This year, I climbed the 4810m with my friend Patrick and guide Pierre. Convinced at first that such a climb was too audacious for me, I finally challenged myself and decided to go.
Knowing that most of the Mont-Blanc ascents are usually managed in three days (due to altitude acclimatization), we nevertheless decided with Pierre for a two-day ascent. We departed from Cabane de la Tête Rousse, with a height gain of 1700 m, straight to the top. I trusted Pierre without arguing too much and bearing in mind that I was pretty fit for such a long ascent.
It definitely took us a long time to reach the summit. A total of eight hours was required. Having kicked off at two in the morning, we finally enjoyed a superb view and shared our joy around ten in the morning. The sky was blue but the air bitingly cold.
The first part up to the Refuge de l’Aiguille du Gouter was technically highly demanding. Primarily because you are hiking in the dark and the rocks can be slippery. Therefore, keen attention is constantly required. We appreciated Pierre’s excellent knowledge of the area. He managed to find the best way up. While another group, obviously on the wrong track, put people below them into danger by triggering off stones and rocks.
Happy to have reached the first step in good condition, we felt ready to start the long ascent of 1000 m on ice. We strapped the crampons on our shoes and headed for the Bivouac of Vallot (4365 m). Hut named after J. Vallot, a scientist who reached the summit in 1881. I felt slightly anxious at the beginning, but felt rapidly at ease. Patrick seemed in good shape and not to mention Pierre who was flying on the path.
The weather was simply perfect. We couldn’t have dreamt of better conditions – blue sky with a light but permanent wind and obviously an inevitable low temperature of – 10 degrees at this altitude.
The last part was all about the willpower to reach the top. It required a progression in constant pace with a confident foot and permanent attention on each side of the ridge. Bearing in mind that we were a group of three, we needed to hike at the same pace. Listening to your body is also a key factor in order to adapt your pace or eventually to decide to give up.
The ridge before the summit, revealing an incredible blue sky and unlimited space, provided us with an unforgettable sensation of freedom. On the top we released our effort to share our happiness of being there. We admired the beautiful view above the clouds. It felt like flying an airplane.
After 15-20 minutes on the top, we decided to go down. The descent was demanding for our knees so we had to manage this carefully. The long descent until the Nid d’Aigle took us about 6 hours.
Overall, for me this was a fantastic adventure in good company. Pierre led us to the summit with confidence. Thanks to his strong and valid recommendations we ensured a safe climb. Looking forward to re-climbing the Mont-Blanc in the future!
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