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Tino and Tony with a bunch of people photo bombing the summit ridge 2048

Mont Blanc and Matterhorn in Seven Days

Mad­ness guide Alan Rousseau brings us on his clients’ con­quest of Mont Blanc and Mat­ter­horn in just sev­en days.

This win­ter was a stark con­trast from the mas­sive snow­falls that defined the 2015 – 2016 win­ter for the Alps. Last sum­mer before my first Mont Blanc & Mat­ter­horn trip of the sea­son, I was hop­ing for warm and dry weath­er. This year, I was hop­ing for cold wet weath­er! When I arrived in Cha­monix a cou­ple weeks ago, there was an intense heat wave, and few peo­ple were ven­tur­ing up the nor­mal route on Mont Blanc due to rock­fall. Large rock­fall events were being report­ed on the Mat­ter­horn as well. 

Bot­tom pho­to is June this year; upper is June last year.

For­tu­nate­ly, unsea­son­ably cold weath­er and snow began a few days before head­ing up Mont Blanc. The first two days of the trip, we bat­tled cold snow and white­out con­di­tions while climb­ing the Petite Aguille Vert and the Cos­miques Arête; two clas­sic mod­er­ate mixed routes of the Alps. 

John and Tony pop­ping above the clouds and fin­ish­ing off the Cos­miques Arête with a lad­der into the tram deck!

On day three, we head­ed up to the Tete Rousse hut on Mont Blanc, and pre­pared to climb the Gouter Route the fol­low­ing day. The route begins with a cou­ple thou­sand feet of ver­ti­cal gain thru scram­bling ter­rain up to the top of the Aguille du Gouter. From here, a long undu­lat­ing ridge leads over many false sum­mits to the top of West­ern Europe. 

John and Tony ascend­ing the Dome du Gouter with first light hit­ting the Aguille du Gouter.

Fatigue began to set in as we pro­gressed up the moun­tain, and I start­ed to won­der if my guests would have enough gas in the tank to get the job done. For­tu­nate­ly, they ground it out show­ing quite a bit of men­tal for­ti­tude, and we cap­i­tal­ized on the nicest weath­er I have yet expe­ri­enced on Mont Blanc. 

Mont Blanc sum­mit success!

On our long descent back down the moun­tain, we refu­eled in the Gouter hut. After some cof­fees, cook­ies, and quiche, we con­tin­ued down to the Tete Rousse for din­ner and some much need­ed rest. 

The descent from the Tete Rousse is short, with just an hour and a half of walk­ing to reach the cog rail­way. With Mont Blanc down, the next mis­sion was the Horn­li Ridge of the Mat­ter­horn, which soars above Zer­matt. We took the train from Cha­monix to Zer­matt and approached the Horn­li hut the next day. This gave us two fair­ly easy days to try and recov­er from Mont Blanc. 

The Horn­li Route appeared to be in great con­di­tion, and only thir­ty peo­ple were in the hut. This is a huge advan­tage com­pared to a day with a full hut (140 peo­ple). With few peo­ple on the route, there is less wait­ing at bot­tle­necks on the ascent and descent. 

John roped with me and Tony roped with Tino, anoth­er Mad­ness guide that joined us for the Mat­ter­horn. Every­one climbed well, and we hit the sum­mit right at our turn around time of 9am. 

Tino and Tony with a bunch of peo­ple pho­to bomb­ing the sum­mit ridge.

After anoth­er long and involved descent, we arrived back in Zer­matt hav­ing accli­ma­tized and sum­mit­ed Mont Blanc and the Mat­ter­horn in just sev­en days!

The access of the Alps and prox­im­i­ty of wor­thy objec­tives allows for lots of climb­ing with rel­a­tive­ly short pro­grams. Come and join us in the alps next sum­mer and see what you can do in a week!

~Words and images, MM guide Alan Rousseau