Wilfried and I climbed Mont Maudit via the normal route from Refuge Cosmiques. We encountered perfect weather and great conditions even though it was already end of August, pretty late in the season for a fairly dry summer.
On Saturday we drove from Zurich to Chamonix, took the Aiguille du Midi gondola up and hiked the short hike to the Refuge Cosmiques which took us perhaps half an hour..
On Sunday morning we got up at 2:45am for breakfast that we had scheduled for 3am. They hut offered four different breakfast times, at 1am, 3am, 5am and 7am to accommodate the varying lenghts of the different climbs people were planning. For the climb of Mont Maudit, which is about two hours shorter than the climb of Mont Blanc, we figured that 3am would be perfect. We took our time and were on our way by 4:15am.
We passed the Col du Midi and ascended the Glacier des Bossons to the Tacul shoulder. This route changes every year. This year there was no aluminum ladder necessary to cross crevasses like we had encountered two years ago but the route was pretty steep in places. This was no problem during the early morning hours when the snow was frozen solid but it was a bit more of a challenge during the descend later in the day with softer snow. When we arrived on the Tacul shoulder we saw a few people heading to Mont Blanc du Tacul. We pressed on crossing the Col Maudit toward the steep glacier slope that leads to the shoulder between Pointe Mieulet and Mont Maudit. In the middle of the steepest section there is a rock island which is perfect for belaying. We were up at the shoulder in no time.
Instead of following the rocky ridge directly to the Maudit summit, as I had seen it described in a guide book, we continued the traverse to the Col de la Brenva. There was a short icy section that needed some care but soon we were at the Col, took a sharp turn left toward north east and a few minutes later, at around 9am, we had ascended the easy snow slopes to the summit of Mont Maudit. We had the summit to ourselves and enjoyed the great views. Very close, about 2km to the south, the huge wide summit of Mont Blanc was looming and 3500 m below we could see the town of Chamonix.
The descend was uneventful. We followed the ascend route and both of us felt great so we were chatting the whole time. I was worried before that we would have altitude problems since we weren’t acclimatized at all for a night at 3500m and a summit of 4400m but neither of us had any problems whatsoever which was great!
The final ascend from the Col du Midi to the gondola at the Aiguille du Midi seems endless every time and is a bit of a bummer. Likewise a bummer is encountering the tourist crowds after 1,5 days of near solitude in the mountains…
All in all, this was a great weekend outing in a beautiful area.