• France edition
 
Ten spectacular reasons to climb Mont Blanc
Karen Holst

Ten spectacular reasons to climb Mont Blanc

Published: 30 Sep 2011 17:09 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Sep 2011 17:09 GMT+02:00

Are you pining for your next adventure but not sure mainland Europe’s highest point is the answer? The Local’s Karen Holst found there’s plenty to gain from the pain of conquering Mont Blanc. Just watch out for the horny goats.

It’s easy to be drawn into the epic allure of it all. The regal monarch of the Alps, its stately presence stretching more than 50 kilometres, stands tall in a robe of clouds and an everlasting decadent cover of ice and snow.

As you mull the idea of a 4,810-metre (15,782 feet) quest to the top, consider whether your trip, your stay, your life in France will be complete without surmounting Mont Blanc.

If you’re not convinced that scaling the heights is your manifest destiny, a duty to yourself that you will look back on with pride and wonderment, then here are ten fine reasons to think again:

10. To start with, you can choose to train for three months, or two, or one, or none based upon how much you want to suffer on your way up. But they say the best training is going to a pub, downing five beers and talking about climbing, which brings us unsteadily to…

 9. There’s nothing quite like a 12-hour day spent walking slowly and not feeling well. High altitude does strange things to the body. Not only might your head spin and your heart race, but the effects manifest themselves in ways only mass amounts of toilet paper can address.

8. Mountain hut accommodation. Fifteen un-showered people sharing the same tight sleeping quarters. The room is as wide as your wingspan, if you’re lucky. Your night slumber is guaranteed an accompanying symphony from the orchestra of natural human cadence.

7.  First hand encounter with an Ibex, a nimble mountain goat found in the Alps between 2,700 and 3,300 metres. These beasts of the rocks can measure in at one metre tall, 120 kilograms, and reportedly quench their thirst from freshly expired human urine. Warning: consider all angles before dropping drawers while on the trail up as males come equipped with horns.

6.  It’s one of the only sports where you are encouraged to eat as many Snicker bars and the like while in action. Seriously, you cannot overindulge on candy bars, soda and other high-sugar snacks while in pursuit of the summit. It’s encouraged, almost mandated.

5. You get free licence to say things that sound dirty but really aren’t when attempting to scale the cliff face to the Goûter Hut like: “Go ahead and tie in while I get my protection out,” or “Better take a good selection of nuts,” and “Wow! Look at that crack!” to name a few. Word of advice– don’t use the terms ‘granny knot’ and ‘bomber’ in the same sentence.

4. Mountain. Hut. Food. Need I say more?

3. A must for anyone who loves to wear sandals. The oozing, triple-layer blisters earned while grinding your way up and down the massif will ensure the inability of donning real shoes for at least three months while the burning welts air themselves into healing. This may boost your hot-factor as visible proof of your overall rugged toughness.

2. Bragging rights after using Europe’s highest port-a-potty located just below the summit ridge at 14,000 feet (4,260 meters). Two helicopters airlifted these two portable toilets in 2007 but there is no report on their upkeep.

1. Standing at the summit and having your mind blow from your accomplishment. The stunning, sweeping vistas still evident on our suffocating planet promise to overwhelm. (Naturally you need a perfect, bluebird day to fully experience the latter, which is a gamble.)  After eight hours slogging up Mont Blanc, you will likely spend no more than 15 minutes celebrating at the top. Some choose to strip down into a speedo to bump up the thrill quota of their photographs while others have carried, in bits and pieces, a hot tub for a wet and wild party at the top. Just remember, however you choose to celebrate, you still have to get back down. Leaving no trace behind. And it’s a long way.

As with most off-the-charts adventures, it is highly recommended you challenge the peak with a licensed mountain guide, and luckily Chamonix is bursting with real, rugged mountain-men options. But if you choose to forego an experienced escort, at least bring a partner. Two things that will tip you off that you’ve chosen the wrong climbing partner: if he or she thinks a ‘carabiner’ is someone who lives in Jamaica, and when asked to bring rappelling gear said partner shows up with 25 cans of OFF bug spray.

So, if you plan to join the ranks of the 20,000 other climbers who will stand at the top of Mont Blanc in any given year, just know that the first step in your ascent will be the easiest – it will only get steeper, colder, harder to breathe and more strenuous as you go. And the downhill isn’t much prettier.

Or you can join the 80,000 other people who will talk about climbing in the pub. The next round is on me.

Climb on!

Karen Holst (news@thelocal.fr)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
EU tells France to allow unions in the military
France has been told to allow unions in its armed forces. Photo: AFP

EU tells France to allow unions in the military

The European rights court on Thursday ruled that a blanket ban on trade unions within the French armed forces was a violation of the rights of military staff. READ  

Helicopter crash in France leaves five dead
A helicopter crashed in France on Thursday killing five Swiss people aboard. Photo: Doubs Prefecture

Helicopter crash in France leaves five dead

UPDATED: Five people were left dead and two others injured when a helicopter crashed in the garden of a suburban house in eastern France on Thursday. READ  

In Images: French sports hunks bare (almost) all
France's eagerly awaited annual gallery of semi-naked sports hunks that is the "Dieux du Stade" calendar came out on Thursday. Photo: StadeSA

In Images: French sports hunks bare (almost) all

France's famous annual gallery of lean, muscular and semi-naked stars from the world of sport came out on Thursday in the form of the new "Dieux du Stade" calendar. Fans of barely clothed athletes won't be disappointed. READ  

University rankings
'Lack of English' holding back French universities
French universities have fallen in the global rankings once again. Photo: Jean-Pierre Clatot

'Lack of English' holding back French universities

Only two French universities made it into the top 100 of a new global ranking. A problem with branding and a lack of research in English explains the poor scores, says the man behind the annual league table. READ  

Rant about Monaco's prince lands man in jail
It's a crime to insult Prince Albert II of Monaco, shown here, as one man found out the hard way. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Rant about Monaco's prince lands man in jail

Visitors to Monaco would be wise to mind their tongue. A Tunisian man was slapped with a three-month prison sentence after being convicted of insulting the principality's royal family during a "vulgar" rant. READ  

The Local List
What the French find weird about Anglos
Here's what the French think is odd about Anglos. Photo: Man eating: Shutterstock

What the French find weird about Anglos

What passes for normal behaviour and customs among Anglos can look pretty alien to the French at times. Here’s our list of the things the French find weird about us. What else would you add? READ  

Sarkozy's seven ideas for how to save France
Sarkozy has come up with his plan of how to fix France. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Sarkozy's seven ideas for how to save France

Nicolas Sarkozy’s return to French politics continued apace this week when he presented his plan for how "hope" can be restored to France. We've narrowed his personal rescue package down to seven key proposals. READ  

JobTalk France - Job fair
Paris job fair opens with 10,000 posts up for grabs
There are 10,000 jobs up for grabs at the Paris Pour L'Emploi jobs fair this week. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Paris job fair opens with 10,000 posts up for grabs

Anyone within reach of Paris and in need of work could do worse than heading down to Place de la Concorde on Thursday and Friday, where 2,000 top recruiters will be taking CVs as part of the annual Paris Pour Emploi job fair. There are 10,000 jobs up for grabs. READ  

France moves step closer to plastic bag ban
Plastic bags will soon become a thing of the past in France. Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

France moves step closer to plastic bag ban

The prospect of a nationwide plastic bag ban in France moved a step closer this week with the proposal included in the government’s energy bill that was debated in Parliament. Paris is leading the race to be the country’s first plastic bag free city. READ  

France sends more fighter jets to fight Isis
France is sending more fighter jets to bomb Isis targets in Iraq, the country's military says. Photo: Alexander Klein/AFP

France sends more fighter jets to fight Isis

France confirmed this week that it will be sending more fighter jets to the Middle East to carry out air strikes against jihadists from Isis who have taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Culture
Depardieu: ‘I drink 14 bottles of booze a day’
National
Top French chefs want banned bird on menu
National
VIDEO: Making of French rugby hunk calendar
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se