We camped on the ridge of the Aiguille du Gouter and left the tent a little after midnight to ensure a head start on the hoards from the hut.
The climb up the dome du Gouter was a horrid slog but on reching the top we were bathed in moonlight and the whole route stretched out before us and there were only another two climbers in sight.
Pressing on over the bosses was difficult as tiredness began to set in and the final summit ridge felt never ending.
We summited at about 5am in the morning as the first rays of the sun were lighting the eastern horizion making revealing the shadowy peaks of the Valais. We paused for a while on the summit but the bitter cold meant we soon started down. We passed many parties on our descent but were pleased that we had the summit to ourselves without the crowds.
A snow plod, but great weather, fantastic views.
Beautiful ascent began in a night of full moon.From Gonella hut accros the summit and down to Cosmique hut:17 hours!!
It was hard but worthy. Very nice weather, a bit cold in the summit.
Winter conditions, no lifts open. hiked full vert. Aiguille du Gouter played out as very mixed, crampons and tools. Very cold summit.
Good but blistery day.
Perfect conditions that day. Started about 4 AM from the biouvac and reached the route at daybreak. Fantastic ice climb through the couloir and over the 80-90 degree serac above (broke my ice axe there). Mt Blanc peak as overcrowded as usual, lots of trafic down the ridge to the Vallot. (not a welcome place-lot's of rubbish). We stayed there only a few minutes, couldn't stand it, and continued to the Grand Mulet. Had a monster dinner and lot's of Vin Rouge to "rehydrate". Slept there for 12 hrs before we returned to Chamonix.
Great climbing partner!
1) September 14th 1987: normal route
With a group of german alpine club. Though we had a reservation at the Gouter hut, we had to sleep just on the floor, without any matress or blanket., because the hut was totally overcrowded.. Thank god the night was finished at 2 a.m. The ascent was very cold, above 4500 m I felt the height, but we reached summit at 8 a.m. Weather was hazy, no clear sight.
2) August 21st 1992: traverse
A friend had left me durning our mountain holiday, so I booked "on last minute" a guided week at MB. Since last time, the hut had received an additional sleeping building where we as prefered guests slept very well, while other again had to use the floor. I felt a bit ashamed.
Again we started at about 3 a.m.. I was lucky that my recently injured knee did not cause problems and we reached summit at about 7a.m. Only our team (out of 3) did the descent to the other side, crossing the shoulders of Mont Maudit (where we met Hans Kammerlander with a television team) and MB de Tacul. A final ascent brought us to Aiguille du Midi station. It was a great trip, but just following a guide and not having own responsibilities was not that what I was looking for.
3) June 3rd 1999: ski route
After we had made trips for acclimatization on Alphubel and Allalinhorn we took the Aiguille du Midi cablecar to it's mid station. On the last remaining snow we traversed to Bossons glacier where we had to use the rope because of the many crevasses at the Jonction before climbing to Grand Mulet hut. There we stayed 3 nights! The next day -as expected - the weather was cloudy and windy. We started though and reached the Grand Plateau. After a thunderstorm in the late evening there were stars on the sky and it was very cold when we started at app. 3 a.m. A french group with guide were ahead of us and did a track in the fresh snow. Using ski crampons was very important because of the hard snow below the little fresh snow. At the slope from Grand Plateau to Col du Gouter we came into heavy storm. We fixed skis on an iron stick and climbed the last meters to Vallot hut with crampons. The hut was cold inside but we were happy to get out of the storm for a while. There we took all clothes we had and made the final ascent on Bosses ridge. This was not difficult but safe walking with crampons, even in the storm was very important. The french group had turned because of the storm so we four and two from austria where the only climbers on that fine day to reach the summit. After we had reached our ski agan we had still a nice downhill to Grand Mulets hut where we stayed another night. So climbing MB was almost like an expedition
Weather was perfect...over the clouds
dal rifugio Gonella
Nice mountain with a lot of crazy people on it!!!!
Bivied at Tete Rousse first night,above Gouter hut at tent city on the second,easy walk but had to pop into Vallot Hut to sort out someones crampons out,not a great place to spend half an hour!Great view from summit,and a mad rush all the way back down to Les Houche for a beer.
With 3 Belgian guys and 3 Husky dogs we reached the top on a fantastic day!!!
Stormed off and had to retreat from the wee bivvy hut on Gouter Ridge. Big crevasses and seracs on the Grands Mulets route - may not be a wise ascent in summer
learned the semantics of the sentence "réveillé à minuit" at Grand Mulet, gone to refuge vallot with ski, then walked to the summit
very cold wind on top
We didn't make the summit due to weather conditions, but it was still increadible! Next time....
During my first big summer of hitchhiking around Europe, I got rides from Oxford to Pamplona via Paris and Barcelona. For one action-packed week, I ran before the bulls every morning and smoozed with Ernest Hemingway every afternoon at the Bar Xoco after the bullfight. I got drunk on cheap wine and lay down with drunk women in my sleeping bag at the sports grounds after midnight. The fiesta of San Fermin was a blast and it was a relief when I got a ride with an American school teacher across Spain to Lisbon. Gradually I made my way north to Santiago and across northern Spain to San Sabastian and then northeast across France to the Alps. By late July, I was in Chamonix staring up at the highest peak in the Alps. I rented an ice ax and crampons and took a telepherique uphill and hiked to the base of the Aiguille du Gouter. It was a steep scramble up to the Refuge du Gouter following dots on the rocks.
The hut was crowded with climbers. I found a place to lay my sleeping bag and went to sleep. At three am, I awoke to find a female leg curled around mine. A French women had mistaken me for her boyfriend lying on the other side of her. I silently wondered how to exploit this opportunity. Instead I got up and put on my boots and crampons and roped up between two officers in the Luftwaffe from Hamburg. We set off in the darkness up toward the Dome du Gouter following the light of head torches. As the sunlight lowered on the Dom, we cleared its crest and continued up the narrow corniced ridge to arrive on the spaciously level summit of Europe by seven am. The day was perfect. On the horizon we could see the Matterhorn which I had climbed four years before clearly to the northeast. I felt that I had accomplished something significant and spent the rest of the summer hitchhiking to Zermatt and Vienna and into Yugoslavia.
August 2003 was a pretty bad month for alpine climbing in the Mont Blanc Massif. Lots of rock falling in the "classic" routes of most peaks. Beacuse of the increased risk conditions and to discourage climbers of going up, CAF closed the Gouter Hut since mid August (no guard or food/water, front door was left open as well as two dormitories).
Nevertheless, having checked the Grand Couloir's rock fall conditions a day before my friend Jim and I give it a try very early in the morning of Wednesday 20 (took first tramway to Nid d' Aigle) and by 11AM we were crossing the 15 second, 40-meter traverse dash in 20-25º terrain of Le Grand Couloir (the crux of the climb). Doesn't sound as much of a deal but trust me, they are the scariest 15 seconds of your life. Once we've crossed, it tooks us 1.5 hours to scramble (max. II) to the Gouter Hut at 3800m. Thursday 21 was spent in the hut as the weather was really bad for a summit attempt (wind, snow, fog, the works). Conditions on Friday 22 morning were completely the opposite from what we experienced the day before: completely cloudless, windless and a very bright moonlight. We departed at 3:50 AM from the Gouter (no need to get up earlier as the mountain was almost empty). The mountain was ours! By 8:20 AM we were first for the day at the summit! A great experience! By the time the last group arrived about half hour later we were ONLY A DOZEN PEOPLE IN THE SUMMIT! A unique and probably unrepeatable moment! We stayed for a full hour taking pictures and enjoying our uncrowded summit. On our way down we did a half-hour stop at Vallot to drink/eat and by noon we were back at the hut.
By 2:00 PM we were heading down the couloir ridge and an hour later taking our chances in the Bowling Alley for the last time. But this time it was different: it was 3:00 PM (hotter), instead of 11:00 AM (colder) when we crossed the first time, and the rock fall sounded like a continous symphony of bullets whispering around us. I have to wait for a while before I could cross as the rock fall seemed to be never ending. SCARY!
Very probable I would never try this particular route again, as I doubt I could ever experience it again in such great conditions (uncrowded Goûter hut, no risky passing on the thin Bosses ridge, dozen people in the summit). CHECK MY TRIP REPORT FOR ADDITIONAL POINTERS.
My first experience with alpine climbing left me with mixed feelings: yes it was great, and well worth the effort, but the mass of it all along that specific route made me decide that I wanted more of this, but in a different way.