Reaching Heaven in the Swiss Alps

Aiguille Blanche
By Richard Goedeke
  |  Gorp.com
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Aiguille Blanche (4112m) is one of the most fascinating mountains in the Alps, with the elegant rock pillars on its southwestern flank and equally well-sculpted ice ramparts on the northeast. Between them, the mighty Peuterey Ridge rises to the summit from Breche Nord des Dames Anglaises.

The peak is generally climbed in the course of a traverse to Mont Blanc (when the need for speed means that only the south summit is crossed with the other two being turned). Anyone who embarks on this ascent must be very well prepared in terms of both fitness and experience for this is the most difficult independent 4000er in the Alps. The approaches are long and complicated, and threatened by both ice- and stone-fall and with plenty of scope for going astray. The mountain itself is big and complicated and when one has finally reached the narrow knife-edge of the summit ridge, the quickest way to safety involves either a further very long ascent, or a choice of complicated descents, neither of which is without risk. This is not a place to get caught in bad weather.

Historical Highlights

The first ascent of the Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey was made in 1885 by Emile Rey, Ambros Supersaxo, and Aloys Anthamatten with H. Seymour King, who climbed the Northwest Ridge via the Col de Freney and Col de Peuterey. Emile Rey, Christian Klucker, and Cesar Oilier with Paul Gossfeldt made the first traverse of the classic Peuterey Ridge with ascent up the Brenva flank in 1893. Today's usual ridge route, using the Freney Glacier approach, was found in 1928 by L. Obersteiner and K. Schreiner. The North Face was climbed in 1933 by Renato Chabod and Aime Grivel. The South Face of the Punta Gugliermina fell in 1938 to the immortal Giusto Gervasutti and G. Boccalatte.


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