Mont Blanc massif


The Mont Blanc mountain range from the southwest, behind the Valais Alps

The Mont Blanc Range is a mountain range of the western Alps in the border triangle between France, Italy and Switzerland. With the Mont Blanc ( 4810 m) it has the highest mountain in the Alps.


The Mont Blanc Massif is located in the western Alps, in Haute -Savoie, the Italian region of Aosta Valley and the Swiss canton of Valais. For the boundaries of the mountain ranges in the western Alps, there is no binding agreement, often the Mont- Blanc massif, but is assigned to the Graian, alternatively, it is also referred to as part of the Savoy Alps.

In the west, the massif from the Val Montjoie, bounded on the north-west from the valley of the Arve. Here lies Chamonix with one of the main valley communities of the mountain range. To the north, the border runs through the Col des Montets to the Valais village of Martigny, to the northeast and east by the Swiss Val Ferret and Val Ferret of the same name in Italy. South of the Courmayeur Mont- Blanc massif from the Val Veny is limited. In total it comprises approximately 645 km ².

Although the solid has the highest Alpine peaks, tower above otherwise relatively few peaks of the small and compact group the four thousand mark. The relative height difference to the valleys in this group is the highest of the Alps.


The southwest - northeast - trending Mont Blanc group is usually referred to in geological context as Mont- Blanc massif. The Mont Blanc Massif is part of the Helvetic, the northernmost of the four major geological complexes of the Alps. It is made ​​up predominantly of variszischem crystalline basement and includes a small portion also its Mesozoic cover layers.

In the final phase of the Variscan orogeny in the late Carboniferous crystalline rocks are in that part of the earth's crust, which is now represented by the Mont- Blanc massif, lifted out and been eroded down to the following Perm into it. In this crystalline basement, which plummeted from the turn of the Permian and Triassic and formed the so-called Grundgegbirge the Helvetic shelf, various sediments were deposited during the Mesozoic and even during the early Paleogene. In the Oligocene captured the Alps form the present-day Mont Blanc region, not only the sediment layers, but also the varizische base, consisting of granite and gneiss, were included in the folding processes. The Variscan crystalline builds today the majority of the Mont- Blanc massif including the Mont Blanc, while the younger sedimentary rocks are flush with the edges.

During the Quaternary geological development of the massif was mainly determined by the activity of the glaciers of the Pleistocene ice ages.

Since the crystalline rocks are very resistant to erosion and form the high altitudes of the Mont- Blanc massif. The case most frequently occurring rock is Biotitgranit. On the northwest flank of the massif also gneiss, mica-schists, amphibolites and marbles are found. In valley areas, for example in the Arve Valley or near Courmayeur, to find the erosionsanfälligeren, weakly to unmetamorphosed sedimentary rocks of the Mesozoic era. Northwest of the Arvetals is the " sister massif " of the Mont- Blanc massif, the Aiguilles Rouges massif, but which mainly consists of metamorphic rocks and hardly made ​​of granite.

Due to the ongoing uplift of the Alps, the mountains of the group grow today by about 2 mm per year.


Due to its exposed location at the western end of the Alpine arc, the Mont- Blanc massif is exposed to the frequent Western currents to form the much lower upstream Savoy Alps hardly any protection. This leads not only to strong winds (especially on the north west side ) also to the widespread occurrence of violent weather falls. In the case of Foehn but can also occur forth strong winds from the south side. The particular exposure of the mountain may have the consequence that the higher peaks of the massif are already wrapped in Föhnwolken where blizzards occur while around still sunny and warm weather prevails. These characteristic clouds are here âne as L' ( " The Donkey " ) called because of their shape. The Valais and the Aosta Valley are characterized by a Mediterranean climate.

The storage layers have large amounts of precipitation in particular on the north side result, which leads to a high degree of glaciation. Approximately one-third of the entire massif is covered by ice. Here are also particularly large glaciers such as the Mer de Glace and the Glacier des Bossons one of the deepest glacier in the Alps. Due to the large slope and the high flow rate (up to 50 cm per day) of glaciers particularly many columns and crevasses form.

The Eishöhe achieved in this field during the ice ages up to 1000 feet above the valley of Chamonix, just a few peaks towered like nunataks from the ice. The last major ice advances were observed during the Little Ice Age in the 16th and 17th century and associated with widespread destruction. The Bossongletscher last reached in 1818, 1854 and 1892 the valley. Due to the recession of glaciers decreases in glaciers around 7 to 14 meters can be observed annually today.

Flora and Fauna

In the mild climate of Aosta, the tree line is around 2300 m, continuous growth in the form of alpine mats can be found up to 3400 m, up to the glacier region grows up such as the glacier buttercup. In the valleys here wine is grown, even cacti and palm trees can be found. The north-west side is dominated by cooler air, here the tree line often lies below 2000 meters. Serviced is possible only in a small part of the territory.

Of the fauna, especially the reintroduced ibex and bearded vultures are worth mentioning.

Development history

The first ascent of Mont Blanc by Jacques Balmat and Michel -Gabriel Paccard 1786 was a high point of the early alpinism. He was almost the only goal of mountaineers in the following period. In the 19th century Michel Croz and then especially Edward Whymper made ​​to the development of the other mountains of the Massif deserves. Later Albert Mummery opened up many of the hitherto still unclimbed mountains. In the 20th century mountaineering and skiing into a popular sport, and thus become an important economic factor were.


The Mont Blanc massif is being developed by the Chamonix Valley and the Aosta Valley with roads, on the Italian side even by a Highway ( A5). The Mont Blanc tunnel connecting the towns of Chamonix and Courmayeur.

The most famous cable car of Mont Blanc mountain range is the télépherique de l' Aiguille du Midi, which runs from Chamonix to the 3842 m high Aiguille du Midi and one of the highest cable cars in the Alps. From there, the lift that leads to the Vallée Blanche Pointe Helbronner ( 3462 m), which in turn is from Courmayeur reachable by cable car. Thus, the entire solid can be crossed with the help of cable cars. Several other cable cars open up the area mainly from the French side. Furthermore, lead cog railways to the viewpoints Mont Envers and Nid d' Aigle.

In a tunnel under the mountain is the proof of such from cosmic radiation Mont Blanc Laboratory.

The area is supplied with many farmed alpine huts Alpine Club Alpin Français clubs, Club Alpino Italiano and the Swiss Alpine Club. Known cabins are:

  • Refuge du Goûter ( 3817 m)
  • Refuge of Cosmiques ( 3613 m)
  • Cabane du Trient ( 3'170 m above sea level. M. )
  • Refuge de la Tête Rousse ( 3167 m)
  • Refuge des Grands Mulets ( 3051 m)
  • Refuge d' Argentière ( 2771 m)
  • Refuge of Conscrits ( 2602 m)

In addition, there are several bivouacs and unstaffed cabin, the highest Refuge Vallot is at an altitude of 4362 m.

Single summit of Mont Blanc Massif