American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Europe, France, The Brenva Face of Mt. Blanc in 1933

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1934

The Brenva Face of Mt. Blanc in 1933

The good condition of the ice climbs during most of the 1933 campaign made this climb rather popular. On July 25th the writer left Courmayeur in the afternoon with Evaristo Croux to spend the night at the Pavilion of Mt. Frety. On the following day we traversed the Aig. de la Brenva (3,274 m.) from the Glacier d’Entrèves over the northwest ridge and the west face. The descent was made by the southeast ridge and the west face to the Brenva bivouac of the C. A. A. I. On the following day (July 27th) the Tour Ronde (3,792 m.) was traversed from the Brenva glacier, with an acrobatic jump over the large bergshrund to reach the Glacier du Géant. After a few hours’ rest at the Rifugio Torino the party left at 12.35 a.m. and crossed the Col. Est de la Tour Ronde by an extremely steep ice couloir, where a rock fall was experienced, although the night was very cold. The bergshrund at the base offered some difficulty. The summit of the col was reached at 4.10 a.m. and at 5.00 a.m. the party was at the base of the Gussfeldt couloir. This spectacular ice trough, hemmed in by threatening seracs, appeared to be sufficiently safe to be taken as a direct route to the summit ridge of the Grand Éperon. This was reached in about one and one-half hours. The inclination of this portion of the climb is not great and the difficulty generally less than in the upper portion of the climb or in the couloir of the Col Est de la Tour Ronde.

The Moore route was then followed to the upper seracs which were reached at 9.10 a.m. From here the party cut directly to the left through the upper seracs and then followed the steep upper slopes directly to the summit which was reached at 11.40 A.M. The most difficult portion of the ascent was the passage of the upper portion of the seracs, where the party was subject to an ice fall, which fortunately went wide over their heads.

This route represents probably the most direct way to the summit of Mt. Blanc coming from the Glacier du Géant. it being the combination of three of the known routes, that is, the Gussfeldt couloir at the base, the Moore route over the icy arête of the middle portion, and the Coolidge route through the upper ice cliffs.

The descent was made by the way of the Bosses, the Dôme and the Glacier du Dôme to the Dôme hut (Rifugio Gonella) which was reached at 5.00 p.m., after much wandering around the large crevasses in the Glacier du Dôme. The traverse is of great interest and difficult enough to tempt any well-trained party.

In the same season the following other ascents were completed: Aig. Trélatête (trav. four summits); Dôme de Miage (trav. five summits); Aig. de Bionnassay (trav. in the record time of three and one-half hours from the Rif. Durier to the Col de Bionnassay, including halts) ; Aig. Noire de Peuterey (in one day from Courmayeur) ; Aig. de Talèfre; Aig. de la Varappe; Aig. du Chardonnet (trav. northeast arête to Col Adams Reilly) ; in the Ampezzo Dolomites: Torre Grande (via Miriam).

M. M. Strumia.

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