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La Dame Blanche By: Jameson Long
The Beginning • The Alps were formed when Africa drifted up into Eurasia Pushing the ocean basin upward • Glaciers eventually sculpted the Alps to the way they look today. • Evidence of the glaciers still exist in the Alps, with the second largest (Mer de Glace) located right next to Mont Blanc.
The Beginning • The glacier is 5. 6 km long and 200 m deep ranking it as the second largest glacier in the Alps. • The glacier moves about 90 m a year in the upper portions. • It used to be visible from the nearby town of Chamonix but is now barely visible from the bottom.
The Beginning The Alps extend from tips of Austria to southern France making it the largest mountain chain in Europe. Mont Blanc is a bit disputed between France and Italy. The mountain is located between Aosta Valley, Italy and Haute-Savoie, France but depending on what map you look at one country might include more of the mountain on their side. The last official definition of the border was decided in 1861 by France and Italy dividing the mountain in half at its highest point. “Though some French maps don’t respect this solution. ”
Map depicting the French Italian border signed by Nepolian III and Victor Emmanuel II
Mont Blanc is the largest mountain in the Alps: 4, 808 m (15, 774 ft) Up until the 1600 th centaury it was called the cursed mountain, until being baptized and dubbed Mont Blanc. 1786 was the year in which the first successful climb up the mountain. This is said to be the start of the golden age of mountaineering and also inspiring the term alpine hiking
Three main people in the ascent of Mont Blanc were Jacques Balmat, Dr. Michel Paccard, and Horace Benedict de Saussure. Though some were more honorable and important than others all three were crucial in the first ascent.
Key People Horace Benedict de Saussure was the first person to really push for someone to climb the Mountain. He offered a cash reward of 2 guineas to the first person to find a route to the top, but also he paid a daily fee to anyone whom attempted to climb the mountain. He kept his word and did so for 25 years until a route was finally discovered. Saussure was careful with his words because his reward was only for someone that found a route to the top, hoping most likely that he would be the first one to reach the summit after the hard work of finding a trail was complete.
Key People Dr. Michel Paccard was well like in the town of Chamonix, because he was the local hero. Chamonix being the closest French town to Mont Blanc was of course hoping that their town would have the glory of supplying the person that conquered Mont Blanc. He was described as “Sophisticated, cultivated mountain dweller”(27) though I think it was mostly boasting that gave him a description like that, because without the help of Jacques Balmat he would have never found a route.
Key People Jacques Balmat unlike the other two men was not a man of science or an experienced guide, but yet he was the first recorded person to find and climb a route leading to the summit. It took 25 years since Saussure first offered a reward for a successful ascent for Jacques to finally find a route up the mountain. After finding a route Jacques decided he would not do it alone so he asked Michel Paccard to accompany him to the top.
Key People A monument in Chamonix was erected in memory of August 8 1786 the day that Paccard and Balmat first reached the summit. Though Saussure didn’t even attempt to climb the mountain for another two years he is still immortalized in the statue seemingly towering over Balmat.
Mountaineering Equipment Past and Present • Early crampons (Spiked shoes usually made of solid metal very heavy. ) • They wore heavy but warm coarse cloth coats. • Greased wool sweaters. • Heavy shoes thickly cut from leather. • Long wooden alpen stock (A long wooden stick used for checking foot positioning and balance). • Gaiters made from felt (This article of clothing is wore like leg warmers and is used to keep pants dry and prevent the terrain from getting into hikers boots). • Small geology hammers were used for making foot holes and balance, it was some times combined with the alpen stick giving it a longer shaft. • Scarf's • Gloves • Goggles • Wool hats • Multiple pairs of socks • Small back pack for extra clothing, maps, compass, food, and blankets.
• • • Early mountaineers had little equipment and protection while climbing. The use of spiked foot wear known as crampons have been known to exist since the 14 th century. The Geological hammer and alpen stick were later replaced by the present day climbing axe. The use of ropes and climbing axes were the main reason for such a long delay for climbing Mont Blanc. The first could have been completed quicker if the proper equipment was available.
Mountaineering Equipment Past and Present • • • Six pairs of sock 3 thick, and 3 thin Balaclava 4 layers of coats upper body long underwear, thin fleece, thicker fleece, 2 windproof jackets one waterproof, and one outer shell insulated and waterproof jacket. 2 pairs of gloves one thick one thin Telescopic walking sticks A harness 40 liter ruck sack Helmet Plastic or high end insulated boots Crampons And the faithful ice axe
Mountaineering Equipment Past and Present Modern day climbing is not just more advanced it is also much easier. Notice that the alpen stick and pick axe have been replaced with the more efficient climbing axe and telescopic poles. More equipment but still is most likely less weight then what the first climbers brought with them. Everything has been made more efficiently to be lighter and warmer than any of the older gear. Also the modern day hiker caries less equipment because there are now many hotels along Mont Blanc the travelers can stay in. These hotels provide food and beds for the weary travelers making there no need to carry food, a sleeping bag, and tent with them.
Mont Blanc used to cause a long scenic drive around the mountain for those traveling to Italy from France until the Mont Blanc tunnel was constructed. Completed in 1965 the tunnel is 11. 6 km long and 8. 6 m wide.
Modern Day Mont Blanc And for those people that are more interested in view of the outside of the mountain a train called The Mont Blanc Tramway goes up a near 75% of the way up.
There was even a group of people that setup a Jacuzzi on the summit.
Modern Day Mont Blanc • Mont Blanc during an average year attracts around 40, 000 tourists. With all of those people a large amount of waste can accumulate. The snow on the mountain slowly travels down into the surrounding towns, and brings a lot of human waste into the drinking water and property near it. This is a hard issue for the towns to deal with because they can’t stop tourist from flocking to the Mountain, and even if they could it would hurt them severely economically. Currently the governments of Italy, France, and Switzerland have installed two outhouses along the mountain where there is a significant gap between huts to minimize the destruction of clean water and the alpine vegetation.
References • De Beer, Gavin Early Travelers in the Alps, NY: October House, 1967 • Frison-Roche, Roger A History of Mountain Climbing; translated by Deke Disinberre, Paris; NY: Flammarion 1996 • Rebuffat, Gaston Between Heaven and Earth by Gaston Rebuffat and Pierre Tairraz. Translated from French by Eleanor Brockett London: N. Vane 1965 • Tyndall, John The Glaciers of the Alps, and Mountaineering in 1861, London, J. M Dent & Co. ; NY, E. P. Dutton & Co.
• http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=k. C 1 NNyb 6 K 04 (Paragliding)
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