Mont Blanc (4810m.)

When I tried a splitboard for the first time, I’d never actually thought about just how far I could go with my progress in snowboarding, and with the mountain itself. Now I know, the effort involved in the climb, the reward on reaching the top, the much talked about descent and the companionship are the answer.

Traversée des Trois Monts.

On Monday 28th of May the day started off with clear skies and rays of light appearing over Dru, Aiguilles de Chamonix and Dôme de Goûter but it was still a little cold after the storm the night before. Just like every other day we took the car and headed out to buy bread in the small bakery in the sleepy village of La Frasse. This was one of those special moments when you realise how lucky you are to be here in the Mecca. After breakfast it was time to prepare the backpack cautiously. I’m not trying to mythologise Mont Blanc but I can’t under-estimate it either, I need to have everything prepared. We head towards Chamonix before leaving the car in the parking lot of the bowling alley, where we finalise all the details before mingling with the tourists who share the cable car with us. We took a few photos of the route before making our way towards the ice tunnel leading to the ridge of Aiguille du Midi. Already on the small plateau we get ready for the short descent that will lead us to Col du Midi. While Pau, Borja and Aleix make their way towards the Refuge des Cosmiques (3613m.), Marcos and myself head to Arête des Cosmiques to have a look at the entrance point to the Glacier Rond and the Couloir des Cosmiques, both of which are incredible. Once we arrive to the refuge we separate everything and go up to our room to try and get a bit of sleep. Dinner is served at 6:30 and the dining room is already jam packed. Cream soup, vegetable curry and rice and chocolate cake are on the menu and after dinner we drag on the chat a bit longer with a nice cup of tea before heading up to bed. We decide to have breakfast at 1am but we need to rest for a bit beforehand and drink as much water as we can, but at 5 euros a bottle it’s not so easy. Now in bed, I’m trying to sleep, but after my nap earlier and being a bit anxious to get going it’s not so easy. It’s only 8:30pm so I grab my iPod and put on some nice folk music and try to relax as much as possible. I wake up just after midnight and the feeling of dryness is incredible and knowing it’s going to be impossible to sleep more I decide to get up and at it. Between one thing and another it’s now 1 in the morning and time to get moving. Breakfast consists of carbohydrates and a strong dose of coffee. It’s 2am when we leave the refuge behind us and head off into the darkness. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life before and the weather forecast looks good.

“I’m not trying to mythologise Mont Blanc but I can’t under-estimate it either, I need to have everything prepared”

“It’s 2am when we leave the refuge behind us and head off into the darkness. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life before and the weather forecast looks good.”

Ahead of us we see the front lights of a couple of roped teams as we climb the first ramps of Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m.). It’s a strange sensation but I feel ok, we manage to establish a good pace which is great and I’m feeling more comfortable. I have absolutely no reference markers so I focus on Marcos’ movements and forget about everything else. We then make the first changeover to crampons to get around the crevasse, the slope is steep and the fronts begin to show us the first seracs. The lights from Chamonix illuminate the valley 3000 meters below, but where we are it’s getting colder by the hour and we can’t wait for the first rays of sunlight to appear. At about 5 in the morning we’re already on the shoulder of Mont Blanc du Tacul (4120m.) when we experience one of the most magical moments Mont Blanc can offer as the sun rises and leaves a reddish stain in the sky to the east.Now it’s Col Maudit (4035m.), we follow the track that takes us to the base of the mythical Col du Mont Maudit (4345m.). It’s in good condition and not difficult at all, well, except for the ravine at our feet. There are some good steps but with a few stages where we notice the ice in our crampons. From here we can now see Mont Blanc. The weather is excellent and we’re feeling good. This is probably the first time I realise that this is actually happening and I begin to enjoy every remaining step. We continue moving along the long flank until Col de la Brenva (4303m.). From here we plot a diagonal route in Mur de la Côte, this is the last tricky bit before facing the final slope of Mont Blanc. Once done, and out of the way, we stop for a quick tea and continue with the climbing skins. We set the crampons but there’s too much ice on the slope and so we decide to use the splitboard crampons for the last 300 meters. Now the real battle begins once we’re over 4,500 meters. Here it’s important to keep a slow and constant pace as it’s really difficult to regain your strength and I’m really focusing on every step I take. The top is just ahead but it seems we’ll never make it. I look to the west and see that we have gone well past the Vallot refuge. Our altimeters now tell us we’re within 100 meters of the top, and then before we realise it, we’re there. We’ve done it! Mont Blanc (4810m.). The wind is strong and it’s extremely cold. We hug, we cry, we take a few photos and then prepare for the descent, without a doubt one of the greatest moments of the day. I remove the climbing skins, put the splitboard together and fasten the straps, remember we’re on the roof of the Alps! And now, it’s time for the first few turns on hard snow before facing the journey over the huge seracs from Rochers Rouges to the Grand Plateau with powder more than respectable for the month of February.

“Our altimeters now tell us we’re within 100 meters of the top, and then before we realise it, we’re there. We’ve done it! Mont Blanc (4810m.).”

We continue downwards passing through the Petit Plateau, an amazing descent moving between seracs and crevasses and then a couple of snow bridges before spotting the Refuge des Grand Mulets (3051m.) and fully entering La Jonction and the authentic chaos of the ice of the Glacier des Bossons. From here we weave in and out between the snow bridges and the huge blocks of ice, it’s getting late so we need to pick up the pace a bit to get over the last hurdle of the day, the painful flank that will take us to the midway cable car station in Plan de l’Aiguille (2310m.). It’s now 4 in the afternoon, 14 hours since we left the Refuge des Cosmiques, and if feels right to give ourselves a pat on the back for getting up and down in one piece and having a blast along the way.We head for the centre to grab some hamburgers and a few beers. The idea is a quick lie down, shower and then enjoy the food on the terrace. We’re more than anxious to celebrate, but also exhausted, and we end up sleeping right through to the next morning. It’s the 30th of May, my birthday, and the guys surprise me with a puff pastry cake with fruit. What a birthday, thanks a lot you guys! Before the return to Barcelona we head to Cham to buy a few things and at midday we leave the valley but for sure we’ll return. See you soon, we’ll be back! I want to say a big thank you to Pau from the Dablam Escuela de Freeride for the years of training, without him, none of this would have been possible. Thank you!! And of course I have to mention and dedicate this summit to everyone who is part of my life in one way or another. You know who you are! Cheers!


David Pérez
Marcos Rodriguez / David Pérez. Cover: Kamil Tamiola & Lumi Toma www.alpine-photography.com
Traducido por: Nativos.org