Elevation: 4807.81 m
Countries: France and Italy
Mountain range: Graian Alps
Mont Blanc peak lies in the massif of the same name, located above the Aosta Valley of Italy and the Chamonix Valley in France.
Its name comes from the perennial snow cap that covers it, meaning literally “the white mountain”.
Is Mont Blanc the highest peak in Europe?
Mont Blanc is definitely the highest mountain in Western Europe and the Alps and one of the most prominent peaks in the world (11th). But determining if it is the highest in the whole Europe depends on how you define the boundaries of the European continent.
If the boundary between Asia and Europe is the Kuma-Manych Depression, then Mont Blanc is the highest European peak. If it is the Greater Caucasus watershed, then the Caucasus mountain range lies in Europe, and the highest peak of it becomes Mount Elbrus at 5642 m of elevation.
History of Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc was first ascended in 1786 when the mountaineer Jaques Balmat and doctor Michel Paccard climbed reached its summit. This expedition marked the beginning of modern mountaineering. More ascents continued after that, and in 1808, the first woman stood on its peak.
Nowadays, an average of 20,000 mountaineers summit Mont Blanc each year, making it one of the most popular mountains in Europe.
This makes it also the most fatal mountain in the world, claiming around 100 lives per year. On the busiest weekends during the summer season, the local rescue services perform around 12 rescue missions. And not every one of them ends well — each year there are climbing deaths on Mont Blanc.
Most of these accidents could have been avoided if more people went climbing Mont Blanc with a guide. Read more about what the Mont Blanc mountain guides recommend.
While most mountaineers climb Mont Blanc in two days, the fastest known time someone both ascended and descended Mont Blanc is 4h57m. The Catalan trail runner and mountaineer Kilian Jornet completed the climb in 2013, covering more than 3800 meters of elevation up and down.
There is also an 11-km tunnel built under the Mont Blanc massif, that opened to vehicle traffic in 1965. It passes the border between Italy and France and is one of the most important transport routes between the two countries.
In which country lies the Mont Blanc summit?
That has been a matter of dispute for many years now. Both Italy and France claim that the summit of Mont Blanc lies in their own respective territory because they define where the border goes differently.
That’s why the mountain also has an Italian name, Monte Bianco. There is also a peak just a close distance away from the main summit, called Monte Bianco di Courmayeur. This one is less disputed and is sometimes referred to as the highest point in Italy.
Mont Blanc Routes
This is the classic route to Mont Blanc that we also use on our 6-day Climb Mont Blanc program. It takes you past the French huts of Tette Rouse and Gouter, and past the Dome du Gouter to the top of Mont Blanc. It is the least technically demanding route to Mont Blanc.
Cosmiques Route (Trois Monts)
The second most popular route to Mont Blanc seems shorter at first because it starts at Aiguille du Midi (3842 m), where you arrive by a cable car. But it goes up and down, traversing two peaks before reaching the Mont Blanc summit. It is also more technically demanding than the Gouter route.
Grand Mulets Route
This is the easiest and most popular route to ascend Mont Blanc on skis. It leads through the Glacier des Bossons and up to the Refuge des Grands Mullets. Soon after it combines with the route from the Gouter hut. It can only be done in good snow conditions, which are usually optimal only from April to June.
As its name suggests, this route goes up from the Italian south side of the mountain. Past the Gonella Hut, it leads towards the Dome du Gouter where it meets the Gouter route and follows it to the summit. It is a little more physically demanding than the Normal route because of the increased elevation gain on summit day.
Huts below Mont Blanc
This is the highest manned hut on Mont Blanc and the last stop before summit day on the Normal Route to the peak.
This hut is the first stop on the Normal route to Mont Blanc and can be reached by a 3-hour hike from the highest station of Tramway du Mont-Blanc.
Refuge des Grands Mulets (3051 m)
This French hut is located on the rock between the two streams of the Bossons Glacier on the north side of Mont Blanc. It is the only hut on the Gran Mulets ski-touring route to Mont Blanc.
Refuge des Cosmiques (3613 m):
The Cosmiques Hut is located close to the easily accessible Aiguille du Midi and is an important starting point for many routes in the area, including the Trois Monts route to the summit of Mont Blanc.
Rifugio Francesco Gonella (3071 m)
The only high-altitude mountain hut on a Mont Blanc route from the Italian side. Overlooking the Aosta Valley, it is located on the ridge separating two Mont Blanc glaciers.
Lots of routes and huts, but limited availability
As you can see, Mont Blanc is an interesting mountain with a rich history and tons of different ways to climb it.
If you want to be part of its history and stand on its peak, reserve your spot at one of our Mont Blanc guided expeditions. Hurry up, the space in the mountain huts is running out fast.