Start point: Aiguille du Midi
The top station of the Aiguille du Midi cable car is on the northern summit of the mountain. It is connected to the snow tunnels on the southern summit by a footbridge. The left-hand tunnel leads out onto the east-north-east ridge (3775m). This is the ridge that goes down into the upper basin of the Vallee Blanche.
Descend of the East Ridge (3670m)
This ridge forms the crest between the impresive north face of the Aiguille du Midi (Chamonix site) and the steep slopes of the south face (Valle Blanche side). The constant passage of climbers usually prouces a good track, but the first few metres can still be quite daunting. The descend requires care and the less experienced may want to use a rope, especially for the first few metres, which are quiet steep and narrow. The slope gradually eases until i reaches a flat area from where a track fors right towards the Col du Midi. A short detour is often necessary to avoid a crack before heading back towards the Col du Midi.
From Col du Midi to the Mont Blanc
We woke up at 2am. Sky was clear full of stars and also quite cold -11C (12F). Some of the people probably coudn't sleep and were already on the track while we were making some tea and eating couple of energy bars. I had to share my sleeping bag together with my boots and bottle of water - otherwise it would be frozen.
Reaching Mont Blanc du Tacul wasn't tough, snow was hard and we knew the route from previous day. With head-torches it is pretty visible. Just watch out for two crevasses and some seracs. From Mont Blanc du Tacul, descend easy slopes of the Col Maudit and then continue towards the north-facing slopes below Maudit (30min).
Go past a line of seracs and then go straight up the slope. There are two crevasses, first is followed by a short wall, the scond by the summit slopes. Crossing this second one sometimes involves some steep awkward climbing.
When we were, there was a fixed rope attached to the stones above, which you could easily hold on to with your left hand and work your way up with ice-axe in your right hand. From Col du Maudit, traverse the south-west flank of Mont Maudit descending slightly towards the Col de la Brenva (south). Go across the crevasse and then climb up to the Col de la Brenva (30mins). From here, you can easily reach the summit of Mont Blanc. (1h 30mins - 2h). I have to admit. at this part we could feel the altitude and tiredness caused by long movements above 4OO0m. We reached the summit at around 12 a clock, which was almost empty, because all the people from ordinary route were already gone.
Knowing that reaching the summit is only half the way of journey, we took some pictures and quickly started our way back. Time at our tents - 8:30pm. Last cable car was gone, so we managed to stay second night there. After such a long trip, we slept like a babies even the night was cold again. It is possible to do the whole trip in one day and return with last cable car down to Chamonix, but you have to move quickly without long stops (like we did for taking pictures etc.). Total it took us 17 hours instead of 14 as the guide book says.
Fro more pictures about this trip, visit www.jan-virt.com