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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Blanc, Mont

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BLANC, MONT, the culminating point (15,782 ft.) of the mountain range of the same name, which forms part of the Pennine Alps, and is divided unequally between France, Italy and Switzerland. The actual highest summit is wholly French and is the loftiest peak in the Alps, and in Europe also, if certain peaks in the Caucasus be excluded. At Geneva the mountain was in former days named the Montagne Maudite, but the present name seems to have been always used locally. On the north is the valley of Chamonix, and on the east the head of the valley of Aosta. Among the great glaciers which stream from the peak the most noteworthy are those of Bossons and Taconnaz (northern slope) and of Brenva and Miage (southern slope). The first ascent was made in 1786 by two Chamonix men, Jacques Balmat and Dr Michel Paccard, and the second in 1 787 by Balmat with two local men. Later in 1787 H. B. de Saussure made the third ascent, memorable in many respects, and was followed a week later by Colonel Beaufoy, the first Englishman to gain the top. These ascents were all made from Chamonix, which is still the usual starting point, though routes have been forced up the peak from nearly every side, those on the Italian side being much steeper than that from Chamonix. The ascent from Chamonix is now frequently made in summer (rarely in winter also), but, owing to the great height of the mountain, the view is unsatisfactory, though very extensive (Lyons is visible). There is an inn at the Grands Mulets (9909 ft.). In 1890 M. Vallot built an observatory and shelter hut (14,312 ft.) on the Bosses du Dromadaire (north-west ridge of the mountain), and in 1893 T. J. C. Janssen constructed an observatory just below the very summit.

See C. Durier, Le Mont Blanc (4th ed, Paris, 1897); C. E. Mathews, The Annals of Mont Blanc (London 1898); P. Gussfeldt, Der Montblanc (Berlin, 1894, also a French translation, Geneva, 1899); L. Kurz, Climbers' Guide to the Chain of Mont Blanc, section vi. (London, 1892); L. Kurz and X. Imfeld, Carte de la chaine du Mont Blanc (1896, new edition 1905). (W. A. B. C.)