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