Seven Summits: Mont Blanc
The Seven Summits
The "Seven Summits" are the seven highest mountains in each of the world's seven continents. Climbing all seven peaks is regarded in mountaineering circles as a formidable achievement. The first person to climb all of the Seven Summits was American businessman, rancher and mountaineer Richard Bass, who achieved this in 1985.
Although lists differ slightly as to which mountains make up the Seven Summits (due to controversies over the boundaries of the various continents), they all include seven of the following ten mountains.
But what do you know about these seven mountains that make up the Seven Summits? In a series of articles called "Seven Summits", I want to explore these beautiful, enigmatic, and sometimes dangerous mountains. First up - 10 facts about the highest mountain in Western Europe - Mont Blanc!
1) A Mountain by Any Other Name
Mont Blanc is French for White Mountain. The mountain's Italian name is Monte Bianco.
2) That's Some Summit!
With a summit of 15,777ft (4,809m), Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and in Western Europe. It is not however the highest mountain in all of Europe including Russia, as Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus is higher.
3) Slap Bang In The Middle
Mont Blanc is located in the French Alps, very close to the border with Italy. The mountain is joint owned by France and Italy under a bilateral agreement.
4) Straight Through The Middle
A seven-mile long Mont Blanc tunnel links France with Italy and travels directly underneath the mountain. Opened in 1965, the passageway is one of the major trans-Alpine transport routes, particularly for Italy, which relies on this tunnel for transporting as much as one-third of its freight to northern Europe.
5) First Up
The first documented ascent of Mont Blanc was in August 1786 by Jacque Balmat and Michel Paccard. A bit later Marie Paradis became the first woman to reach Mont Blanc's peak, scaling it in 1808.
6) The Need For Speed
Owing perhaps to the relatively climbable nature of the mountain, there arose over the years a culture of "speed climbing" Mont Blanc. There have been two notable speed ascents in the fairly recent past: one was by Swiss climber Pierre-André Gobet who climbed Mont Blanc in a round trip from Chamonix in 5 hours and 10 minutes in 1990. In 2013, Basque speed climber and runner Kilian Jornet did the ascent and descent in just 4 hours and 57 minutes.
Two passenger aircraft have crashed into the mountain - one in 1950 and one in 1966. Interestingly, both crashes involved planes from the Air India airline. Sadly, 160 people were killed as a result of these accidents.
Wreckage at the Site of an Air India Plane Crash near Mont Blanc in France
Three towns surround Mont Blanc: Courmayeur in Italy's Aosta Valley, and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Chamonix which are both in Haute-Savoie, France.
9) Let The Games Begin
Chamonix (which is located at the foot of Mont Blanc) was the location for the first ever Winter Olympic Games, held in 1924.
10) Popular Piste
Over 20,000 climbers reach the summit of the mountain every year.
Bonus: Hand Drawn Phone Cases
For adventurers, Mont Blanc is one of the most alluring and enigmatic locations in the world. Along with the other Seven Summits it offers a challenge that many climbers find hard to resist. With our Hand Drawn Phone Cases we hope to inspire people to be adventurous and rise to their own challenges. Check out our Hand Drawn Phone Cases and let us know what you think!