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The Mont Blanc Massif: The Hundred Finest Routes Hardcover – 1 Dec 2005
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'This is a superbly handsome book and cannot fail to inspire both the accomplished alpinist and new hand alike.' --(Simon Richardson, Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal).
The nearest thing to pornography I've ever put on proud display in my living room: The Mont Blanc Massif: The hundred finest routes by the revered Gaston Rebuffat.' --(Tom Hutton, Footless Crow).
About the Author
Gaston Rebuffat was born in Marseille, France in 1921 and died of cancer in Paris in 1985. He was one of the greatest French climbers in the mid-20th century. He began to climb aged 14 on his home crags, the soaring limestone cliffs at the Calenques along the Mediterranean shore and Mont Sainte-Victoire. Every summer he migrated north to climb in the Alps above Chamonix. Rebuffat became the first climber to ascend the six great north faces of the Alps. He was also a key member on the 1950 French expedition that climbed Annapurna, the first 8,000-metre peak ever climbed. Over his 50-year climbing career, he made over a thousand first ascents, including many in the Mont Blanc massif. Besides being a prolific climber, Gaston Rebuffat became a foremost mountaineering writer, despite having a very minimal formal education He wrote 20 books, wrote a regular climbing column for Le Monde newspaper, started his own publishing house in Geneva, and wrote and narrated several award-winning films.
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If it's a guidebook you need, go for Griffin's Alpine Club publications Vols 1+2, and/or (the more recent) Damilano's Vol 1+2, plus Piola's topos for the rock climber. But Rebuffat's 100 finest routes compliments these perfectly. It's a cracking read, and really brings across a passion for the mountains and the routes. As a historical document it's fascinating to see what was done in the years before gore-tex, technical axes, bolting and friends -- it perfectly bridges the gap between the golden age of alpinism, with all it's romance and adventure, and the modern, rather dry guidebooks.
Chances are that anyone heading to the massif will be repeating some of these routes, and this book really adds some flavour and context to trip planning. Several of the routes also have better descriptions than the modern guides -- the Gervasutti couloir on the Tacul is one example. Rebuffat is a legendary figure in Chamonix, and rightly so. This book -- as well as several classic routes he put up across the massif -- is his legacy, and in my opinion essential to any alpinist.
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