I really wanted to climb it! Why? The answer remains unknown! On August 26th, 2011 at 8:45 am I stood with my friend Kuba at the summit of Mt Blanc. I still do not know the answer, but that experience made me a different man. As indicated by the date, it was summer. Not for us. Conditions were truly winter. Blizzard, wind up to 50 mph, wind chill -23 Celsius!!! On the day of our summit bid, no one tried out. Only us, the only two-person team! Boldness!!! We set up base camp in the beautiful valley on the Italian side of Mt. Blanc so on Monte Bianco massif close to the town of Courmayeur. The plan was to spend a night on the Valle Blanche glacier and climb as high as we can to acclimatise.We got there by lift to Pt. Helbornner and a long walk throughout glacier du Geant. After a night in the tent, we managed to climb as high as Mt Blanc du Tacul which is above 4000 metres and we were very contented with our effort! A day of rest at base camp in the valley in a good weather and discussions about summit bid. Weather forecasts put us on pressure. It was going to deteriorate rapidly. We must move now! We have chosen a route called “The Pope route” which starts in the Val Veny valley and follows a glacier du Miage to Gonella hut at 3071m.
The first stage was to reach the hut Gonella at 3040m. We started 24th at 6 am and fast-paced we reached Gonella at 2 pm. Now it’s time to rest, but nerves do not allow us to sleep. We admire the views and discuss with other climbers a reaching the summit strategy. How and when, how much equipment, who goes first. Where are the crevasses? Phew! The nerves and excitement are huge. We left at 1:30 am 25th August. The route through the glacier was exciting.Of course, we got lost, we climbed too high, and it was impossible to cross the hump. We jumped through two crevasses and had to climb down and up out of one. What a thrill, what an adrenaline!!! On the ridge, I experienced the most beautiful view in my life. Imagine yourself. The sunrise and you’re standing on a thin razor ridge and you bathe in clouds! Speechless…. Slowly we have gained our dream, we have gained meters and pride. But mountains have their own pace and plans. They will only allow you to climb when they want.
After reaching the height of 4500 m we had to turn around because we ran out of acclimatisation because each step was a torment and the wind was picking up and progress was deadly slow. You know all of this excuses. Nothing you can do. Pass the night in the shelter Vallot at 4362 m was the only option if we don’t want to give up completely. Maybe tomorrow. Tears and anger, but also respect for the mountains. I took care of the cooking water for those who were coming down from the summit. It was nice to listen to happy people. Maybe tomorrow we too will experience relief. So many plans and months of preparations. Money borrowed, relationships strain. Must go! We didn’t have much sleep that night. First check at 4:30 am. Too windy, too cold, too dark! Back to the waiting mood in our warm sleeping bags. Finally, we left at 6:30 am with one decision in our mind to the top. A Terrible wind has picked up our rope above the heads several times, we couldn’t see anything more than 15m away. It was bad, quite bad and the route seemed to be an eternity. I remember vividly when I fell on my knees again and I thought it would not work, is easier to turn back. The batteries in the camera run out. No picture from the top. Damn it! How good to be here with a friend. We motivate each other after every bit of struggle. We shout famous “now or never”. Complete lack common sense. Mountain beckoning, they will not let us run away. We have to stand at the top. After 2 hours in a complete blizzard, we reached the top. The last 30m on our knees in order to wind did not blow us off the ridge. We are standing at the top!!!
The reward was that we were alone and full of joy!!! But I remember how much I was scared that we are just by ourselves. Under these weather conditions, no rescue if worst comes to worst. I do not have pictures from the top because we were afraid to pull the gloves off and pull out the phone from the pocket. I did not even ring to Basia my wife, though it was promised. Knelt there maybe 5 minutes and sincerely we run off down. Not until we went down to about 4400 m I stopped to call her. Pure joy to hear her concern voice. What a wonderful yet challenging experience!!!
We have done it! I climbed Mount Blanc!
In Europe, you can’t go higher. That was an impressive start in the Alps and after many other trips have followed. Some successful, some not but the joy was always huge!
It is time for you to start your adventure!
Voytek Kurtyka the one of best alpine-style climber said :
“The essence of adventure is being put in an unknown position from which you don’t know what will happen. The unknown is the essence of adventure”
Mont Blanc or Monte Bianco both meaning “White Mountain”, is the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest peak in Europe.
Elevation: 4810 m ( in 2011)
First ascent: 8 August 1786 by
Jacques Balmat, Michel-Gabriel Paccard
Some of my mountaineering and climbing achievements:
Mont Blanc 4809m “Italian normal route” PD+, Alps, Italy
Zumsteinspitze 4563m “Normal route” F+, Monte Rosa, Alps, Italy
Rysy 2499m (winter ascent) “Normal route” F+, Tatra Mountains, Poland
Trad: “Twisted Sister” E3 5c, Carreg Wastad, Wales
Sport: “He-man” 7b, Podcieta Turnia, Jura, Poland
Multi-pitch: “Pilar López de Sancho” 6c, Penon de Ifach, Calpe, Spain
Ice: “Point Five Gully” V, Ben Nevis, Scotland
Winter Mix: “Klis” M5, Koscielec, Tatra Mountains, Poland