Date approximate. In 1973 I finished my PhD in chemistry at UC Berkeley and went to Germany to post doc at the Max Planck Institut fur Stromungsforschung. In the summer of 1974 my climbing partner, Louis Reichardt, flew from his postdoc at Harvard to join me, and we spend three weeks climbing in the Chamonix Alps. We first attempted the route from Cormayeur, Italy, after driving through the Mont Blanc tunnel, but abandoned that long approach in favor of taking the teleferique from Chamonix up to the glacier north of the summit. We climbed to a hut on the ridge where we rested before starting the climb before sunrise the next day. We descended to the glacier East of the summit to do the route. After crossing the summit we descended to the Grands Mulets hut, on the Bossons Glacier, post holing to our hips in the warm afternoon sun. At the hut we treated ourselves to worst wine I have ever tasted (plastic bottled). Later Lou, the strongest climber I have ever climbed with, became the first American to climb K2 with Jim Wickwire (without oxygen).
Good conditions and fine weather.
By amazing coincidence you climbed the Brenva around the time I did back in 1984! You kindly voted on the TR I wrote. I had to guess the date we climbed the route as 20th July, but given the condition of the ice we found, it may well have been later in the season - maybe even the day you climbed it. A couple of Italian climbers passed us on the big ice-field climbing un-roped... was one of them by any chance you?
best wishes, Mark
The crux in conditions we had was the big ice field above the horizontal snow ridge. It was hard ice and very intimidating although angle no more than 55 degrees. We were all the more intimidated as there had been a big avalanche kill 2 climbers on one of the other routes on the face day before, then another climber injured by stonefall on our route. See my trip report: Mont Blanc Brenva face 1984.
I'm really stoked on this one, my partner and I completed this by ourselves after a guided party we were leapfrogging bailed. We even bootied one of thier screws! This one really opened my eyes and boosted my confidence.