Mont Blanc is sometimes consider the highest in Europe but Mount Elbrus technically holds that honor.
It is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence.
Mont Blanc’s summit is in France.
Mont Blanc (French) and Monte Bianco (Italian) means “White Mountain” for its perpetual snowfields and glaciers.
The summit of Mont Blanc is a thick, perennial ice and snow dome whose thickness varies. No exact and permanent summit elevation can therefore be determined, though accurate measurements have been made on specific dates.For a long time its official elevation was 4,807 meters (15,771 feet).
The first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc was on 8 August 1786 by Jacques Balmat and the doctor Michel Paccard. This climb, initiated by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, who gave a reward for the successful ascent, traditionally marks the start of modern mountaineering.
The first woman to climb Mont Blanc was Marie Paradis in 1808.
The first dog without human technical help was “Tschingel” from Grindelwald. When Tschingel climbed the Mont Blanc as usual with her own paws (1875), she was observed from Chamonix with the telescope and her arrival on the summit was celebrated with a cannon shot.
About 20,000 climbers climb Mont Blanc annually and the area surrounding the mountain has become a major tourist area for both Italy and France.
There are several different established routes to the summit.
The most popular route is the Voie Des Cristalliers, also known as the Voie Royale.
The Mont Blanc Massif averages nearly 100 fatalities a year. A published estimate suggests there have been 6,000-8,000 alpinist fatalities in total, more than on any other mountain.
In 1990 the Swiss climber Pierre-André Gobet, leaving from Chamonix, completed the ascent and descent in 5 hours, 10 minutes and 14 seconds.
On 11 July, 2013 Spanish ski mountaineer Kilian Jornet beat the fastest overall time for ascent and descent with 4 hours 57 minutes and 40 seconds.
The three towns and their communes which surround Mont Blanc are Courmayeur in Aosta Valley, Italy, and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Chamonix [photo below] in Haute-Savoie, France.
The 1924 Winter Olympics, officially known as the I Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event which was held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
The first professional scientific investigations on the summit were conducted by the botanist-meteorologist Joseph Vallot at the end of the 19th century. He wanted to stay near the top of the summit, so he built his own permanent cabin.
French astronomer Jules Janssen had the ambition to create the highest observatory in the world. An observatory stationed at the summit of Mont Blanc would give a clear view of the sky. Janssen’s observatory, built in 1893, was at the highest peak and susceptible to extreme weather. Levers attached to the ice supported the observatory. This worked to some extent until 1906 , when the building started leaning heavily. It was abandoned and eventually the building fell.
The mountain was the scene of two fatal air crashes; Air India Flight 245 in 1950 and Air India Flight 101 in 1966.
In 1960, the airplane pilot Henri Giraud landed on the summit, which is only 30 meters (98 feet) long.
The 11.6-kilometer-long (7.25-mile) Mont Blanc Tunnel travels beneath Mont Blanc, linking France and Italy. It was built between 1957 and 1965.
On September 13 2007, a Jacuzzi party was thrown atop Mont Blanc. The portable hot tub was carried by 20 people to the summit. They had to carry 20 kilograms (45 pounds) of equipment each, custom-made to work with less oxygen,lower pressure and “against wind and freezing temperatures.”
In 2007, Europe’s two highest toilets (at a height of 4,260 meters, 13,976 feet) were taken by helicopter to the top of Mont Blanc. They are also serviced by helicopter.
On August 19 2012, fifty paraglider pilots landed on the summit, beating the previous record of 7 top landing pilots, set in 2003.
The Mont Blanc massif is being put forward as a potential World Heritage Site because of its uniqueness and its cultural importance, considered the birthplace and symbol of modern mountaineering. It would require the three governments of Italy, France and Switzerland to make a request to UNESCO for it to be listed.
Global warming has begun to melt glaciers and cause avalanches on Mont Blanc, creating more dangerous climbing conditions.
During the cold wave of January 1893 a temperature of −43°C (−45°F) was recorded on Mont Blanc, being the lowest ever recorded there.