One of the most popular mountains in Europe is also one of the highest.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting facts about Mont blanc.
1. Mont Blanc is located on the border of France and Italy
Mont Blanc literally translates to “White Mountain” and is located right on the border of France and Italy. The mountain lies between the region of Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy and Savoie and Haute-Savoie in southeastern France.
It’s also located between several valleys such as the valleys of Ferret and Veny in Italy and the Arve valley in France.
While it’s generally agreed that the summit is located in France, this has been a matter of debate for multiple centuries. One of the most remarkable Mont Blanc facts is that this dispute is apparently still ongoing as the Italian Prime Minister angered the French by “reclaiming” the summit of the mountain in 2015.
2. It’s part of a mountain range in the Alps
Month Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps which is arguably one of the most famous mountain ranges in Europe. It’s the most extensive mountain range in central Europe and stretches across 8 countries, including France, Italy, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia.
This mountain range consists of numerous smaller mountain ranges, and Month Blanc is located in the so-called “Graian Alps,” of which the Mont Blanc Massif is the most prominent collection of peaks.
3. The mountain is surrounded by 3 towns
3 towns are surrounding the mountain in the nearby valleys:
- Courmayeur in Italy.
- Saint-Gervais-les-Bains in France.
- Chamonix in France.
Chamonix, which is located just north of Month Blanc, is one of the oldest ski resorts in France and offers tourists easy access to some of the most popular ski pistes in the country. It’s visited by millions of people every year.
Chamonix was also the venue of the world’s first Winter Olympics in the year 1924!
4. It’s the second-highest mountain in Europe
The highest mountain in Europe is located in Russia and is called Mount Elbrus. Its located in the Caucasus Mountain range which forms the natural border between Europe and Asia.
With a height of 5,642 meters (18,510 feet), it’s also considerably taller than Month Blanc, which has a height of about 4,808 meters (15,774 feet) above sea level.
5. Mont Blanc is a prominent peak as well
Month Blanc is a massive mountain, and even though it’s surrounded by numerous other high peaks, it’s still considered to be the 11th most prominent peak in the world, mainly because it’s the highest in the area.
It has a topographical prominence of 4,695 meters (15,403 feet), which is the distance one has to climb to reach the summit from the nearest higher peak or sea level if there is no higher peak (which is the case with Mont Blanc)
6. The mountain’s height has changed frequently in the past decades
One of the most interesting Mont Blanc facts is that its height has changed multiple times over the past 2 decades. Originally because of better measuring equipment through GPS technology, but also because of climate change as the ice cap covering the summit melts and freezes over again.
1.75 meters (5 foot 9 inches) was added to its height in 2005 when a team measured it to be 4,808.45 meters (15,775 feet 9 inches), with the peak moving about 75 centimeters (30 inches) away from its position just 3 years earlier.
In 2015, the mountain’s height was measured at 4,808.73 meters (15,777 feet).
7. The first ascent marks an important moment in mountaineering
The first recorded ascent to the summit of Mont Blanc happened on August 8, 1786, by a local mountaineer named Jacques Balmant and a doctor named Michel Paccard.
One of the most fascinating Mont Blanc facts is that this climb is considered to have marked the start of modern mountaineering, well over 2 decades ago!
8. The Mont Blanc Massif aims to become a World Heritage Site
The Mont Blanc Massif consists of 11 peaks of over 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) in height and is covered in multiple massive glaciers which are the longest in both France and Italy.
This in combination with the fact that is considered to be the birthplace of modern mountaineering has encouraged local groups to push the governments of France, Italy, and Switzerland, to list it as a possible UNESCO World Heritage site in an attempt to enhance its protective status.
9. It’s one of the most popular mountains in the world for climbers
In modern times, over 20,000 mountaineers attempt to climb Mont Blanc every year. This makes it one of the most popular mountains in the world for climbers.
Multiple routes allow experienced climbers to reach the summit with the most popular one being the Goûter Route. The reason it’s the most popular route is that it’s the only route that avoids glaciers that form extremely dangerous obstacles as they are filled with crevasses.
10. Mont Blanc is also one of the most dangerous mountains in the world
Mont Blanc has the highest fatality rate among mountaineers of any mountain in the world. It’s estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 people have lost their lives while trying to reach the summit.
The fatality percentage of people attempting the climb the mountain compared to other popular mountains such as the K2 or Mount Everest is rather low though because it’s estimated that between 10 and 20 people out of 20,000 yearly attempts don’t make it, which is between 0.05 and 0.10%.
Yes, Mont Blanc is only for experienced and fit mountaineers!
11. The second-deepest tunnel in the world runs below it
One of the most fascinating tunnels in the world runs right below the mountain and is fittingly called the “Mont Blanc Tunnel.” It was constructed between 1959 and 1965 and connects the two towns surrounding Mont Blanc, Chamonix in France, and Courmayeur in Italy.
The tunnel passes right below one of the most famous peaks in the Mont Blanc Massif named the Aiguille du Midi at a depth of 2,480 meters (8,140 feet). This makes it the second-deepest operational tunnel in the world after the Gotthard Base Tunnel, a railway tunnel in the Swiss Alps.
12. Gustave Eiffel refused to build an observatory on its summit
The summit of the highest mountain in Western Europe was considered to be the best location to build an observatory. That’s what French astronomer Pierre Janssen thought in 1890 and he tried to engage Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower, to build it for him.
Eiffel only agreed to it if he could build it on a solid rock foundation no more than 12 meters (39 feet) below the ice cap. They drilled tunnels but didn’t find anything solid at this depth, so Eiffel abandoned the project.
Remarkably, they went ahead and built the observatory anyways in 1893 with a foundation attached directly to the ice cap. The result was that the building started leaning in 1906 and eventually collapsed when a crack developed in the ice.
They should have listened to one of the most renowned engineers in the world, don’t you think?
13. The highest refuge is found near the mountain’s summit
Multiple huts can be found along the way to the summit of the mountain. Some of the most notable are the Tête Rousse hut, the Cosmiques Hut, and the Vallot Hut. The latter is located close to the summit at a height of 4,362 meters (14,311 feet) and is only intended to be used in emergencies.
One of the most stunning huts is named after the most popular routes to climb Mont Bland, the Goûter hut. The new hut was opened in 2013 and has a remarkable futuristic design.
14. Climate change has a high impact on climbing routes
Climate change has a really high impact on the mountain and most significantly its climbing routes. This is mainly because of movements in the glaciers due to an increase in temperatures.
Because of this, cracks start forming in the glaciers which are extremely dangerous for climbers. One of the most popular routes in the 20th century, the “Grand Mulets Route,” has been closed because it was literally transformed into a minefield of dangerous crevasses.
15. It houses Europe’s 2 highest toilets
One of the funniest Mont Blanc facts is that the mountain is the proud home of Europe’s two highest toilets. These are located at a height of 4,260 meters (13,976 feet) and were brought there by helicopter in 2007.
These are some of the most important structures on the mountain as they help to keep Mont Blanc clean and ensure there won’t be a need to turn its name into a different color!