Jul 13, 2012

Once climbed, you never draw a Blanc and forget

The Mont Blanc massif is a vast glacier-draped beast that no one who has climbed on it will ever forget.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

The Mont Blanc massif is a vast glacier-draped beast that no one who has climbed on it will ever forget, and the tragic images of the avalanche on the slopes of Mont Maudit, which lies high on the ruff of the beast, brings back a tumult of memories, the good, and the alarming, from the summer of 1968.

France was on fire. The chant, acheter, tais-toi, crevé, colloquially consume, conform and perish, filled the air as the student riots spread across the country.

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5 thoughts on “Once climbed, you never draw a Blanc and forget

  1. John Bennetts

    Thanks for this short but informative perspective, Ben. The breadth of your knowledge and experience is amazing.

  2. Tom McLoughlin

    Nice Ben. It never lets you go (Mt Aspiring, NZ).

  3. Ben Sandilands


    Love Aspiring. My first alpine peak, climbed with a guy who became a renowned Tasmania based wilderness photographer I’d name if I had his permission. Back in 1965, after going to an NZAC climbing school organised by the late great Dorothy Butler at Ball Hut on the Tasman Glacier, back when the Ball joined the Tasman at an icy junction several hundred metres thick, all melted away now. Back then the Bonar Glacier remnant of today that you crossed to the base at the Colin Todd hut was an ice shelf that over rode part of the walls above the Matukituki river. It remains a precious wilderness region, especially beyond in the Volta and so forth. I hope it works for our descendants like it worked for us.

  4. Sherry Mayo

    I climbed Mont Blanc via the Tacul-Maudit route many years ago. You’re right both about it being a slog but it still stays with me just as you say. The Maudit traverse was the most indimidating part because of the avalanche potential.

  5. Rohan

    I’m a rockclimber, not an alpine climber/mountaineer, but love reading about the latter.

    “Kiss or Kill” by Mark Twight, which is predominantly focused around routes in Chamonix/Mont Blanc almost made me want to try alpine climbing.

    On the off chance you haven’t read it, very entertaining, albeit heavily opinionated ramblings.

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