I am an enthusiastic climber. In the following you can find pictures of some of my favourite mountains. I didn't take these pictures myself (I downloaded them from the net), even if I climbed most of them.
Of course the Mount Blanc comes at the first place. Here you have a couple of pictures of the North Face (image1, image2), which is what you see from Chamonix. Balmat and Paccard's original route ran among these slopes and this is where the ski - route from Grands Mulets Refuge nowadays passes. Usually one leaves the skiis at the Vallot Refuge and goes on on foot along the Boisson Ridge, which is the final part of the normal route, both coming from France (Goutier Refuge) and from Italy (Gonnella Refuge). When I was there the first time with the skiis, the wind was so strong that nobody could go any further than the Vallot Refuge. The Italian normal route, also called Ratti route after the name of Achille Ratti who first traced it descending from the top of the Mount Blanc, runs thru the wild and impressive Miage Glacier; it is a very long route, although not very difficult (it is graded PD+), but it's the only `easy' route to the top coming from Italy; moreover it's worth to be tried just for the exceptional kindness of the family that runs Gonnella Refuge. All other Italian routes are more difficult, even if under a climber's point of view of much greater interest. Some of them run along the so - called Brenva Face, which you see here at dawn and at sunset. The Brenva Face is closed on the left by the Peuterey Ridge. Here you see a glimpse of the Aiguille Blanche of Peuterey. One should not think, however, that the Mont Blanc Massif is just the Mont Blanc: there are a lot of other interesting mountains to climb. A very nice climb is theTour Rond North Face (I repeated it this summer for the second time), or also the Rochefort Ridge, which starts at the base of this somehow clumsy rock, which is called the `Giant's Tooth', in French `Dent de Geant' (here you can see how the top looks like), in Italian `Dente del Gigante' (here you can admire the whole Rochefort Ridge, as you see it from the Torino Refuge). For the ones who prefer skiing, I recommend the Aiguille d'Argentiere: when we did it in 1997 spring, the snow was just perfect, not too soft, not too hard (the higher part is 45 degree steep!).
Even if the Mont Blanc Massif is probably the most impressive region in European Alps, the mountains that run along the so - called Central Ridge of the Alps aren't bad at all; the best known of all is certainly the Matterhorn which you see here from the Swiss side. On the left runs the Hoernli Ridge, which is the normal route to the top from Switzerland: we climbed it in 1998, but unfortunately we couldn't make it to the top and had to come back when we had still 400 meters to climb. In my opinion, one of the nicest north faces in the Alps is the Lyskamm North Face, which is unfortunately known as the `Men eater' (Menschenfresser in German), because of the accidents that claimed the lives of many climbers. It's 600 meters high and has an approximately constant slope of 55 degrees; it is graded D+.
Perhaps less known is the Grand Casse North Face in the French National Vanoise Park. The Couloir des Italiens is the hardest route I've climbed up to now, maybe together with the Roseg North Face, of which I don't have a picture now. Just across the border, lies the Italian National Gran Paradiso Park, which originally served as a hunting reservation for the king. It's a real paradise, as the name itself suggests, especially for mountain skiing. For Eastern 2000 we climbed
the Punta Tzantaeleina.
Another interesting mountain region is the French National Les Ecrins Park, which owes its name to the Ecrins Massif. As a matter of fact, the Pelvoux Group is in the same park. You can climb the Barre des Ecrins in winter with the skiis or in summer on foot: in both cases the starting point is Refuge des Ecrins.
We climbed a lot in the region around the Ghiacciaio dei Forni in Italy, where you can find Mount Tresero, Palon de la Mare or Mount Pasquale.
I conclude with a couple of images (image1 and image2
) that hopefully convey the fascination of mountain climbing.