Ever dreamed of skiing iconic Mont Blanc, or climbing or even running to its summit? Why not do it today?
The world-famous peak is considered ground zero for mountaineering. Its first ascent, by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard on August 8, 1786, kicked off modern mountain climbing as we know it—something to do for fun or competition and not for militaristic purposes or territorial conquest. What’s so incredible is that, 230 years later, Mont Blanc remains a training ground, a proving ground, and even a playground for thousands and thousands of climbers and skiers from around the world who visit Chamonix, France, and Courmayeur, Italy, to stage their next great adventure.
According to the team of photographers and filmmakers who captured the Street View assets, the project was envisioned as a celebration of all the ways that people experience and enjoy Mont Blanc, which is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
“Shooting anything in the high mountains is always a challenge, but shooting these 360 images was another thing entirely,” says photographer and alpinist Jon Griffith, who was part of the team that worked on this project. “Having to come up with locations and original framing ideas up in the high mountains was quite a challenge, as was the process of actually capturing the images. Every frame has to pivot exactly on the same axis point, which in simple terms means a whole lot of complicated tripod work with absolutely stationary athletes.”
As with the El Cap project, which relied on the talents of rock-climbing legends Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell and Lynn Hill, the Mont Blanc Street Views feature a few of the biggest names in mountain sports, and some of the most important people to the Mont Blanc culture and scene.
There’s Ueli Steck, considered perhaps the greatest alpinist performing today and one of our 2015 Adventurers of the Year, who is caught soloing up a pillar of undulating alpine ice near the Triangle de Tactule.
Killian Jornet, the endurance beast who holds the current speed record on Mont Blanc with an incredible ascent-descent time of just 4.5 hours, which garnered him our People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year award, can be seen “sky running” up a ridge.
Catherine Destivelle, the rock climbing legend from France, is captured on the immaculate golden granite flanks of the Aiguille du Midi.
And Candide Thovex, a freeskiier whose hilarious POV films on YouTube have earned him a huge following, choppers through the air on his sticks, and even films himself carving down some grass fields for fun.
Finally there’s Patrick Gabarrou. This local “Chamoniard” has probably spent more time on the flanks of Mont Blanc than anyone else, with a record number of first ascents. He is captured guiding a group of beginners to the summit. And perhaps here is the truest view of what it means to be on Mont Blanc. With splitter blue weather and360-degree views that extend across numerous European borders, we see a group of people who are figuring out for perhaps the first time to the age-old question of why we climb.
It’s just something you have to see for yourselves.