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Jacques Balmat

Titre section haute
First Mont Blanc ascent

Photo principale
Jacques Balmat dit « Mont-Blanc ». Peinture de Bacier d’albe en 1787.
Texte intro section haute

In the middle of the XVIII century, the Mont Blanc is identified as the top of Europe and becomes an obsessional desire of many citizens, such as the Genevan De Saussure. De Saussure is a naturalist, animated by a wise man spirit, who wants to understand the phenomena of nature. This rational and inedited approach to the mountains will undermine the superstitious beliefs that had reigned in the collective imaginary for centuries. His call to reach the summit in 1760 – including the promise of a generous reward – makes him the main sponsor of the Mont Blanc first ascent.

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Jacques Balmat was born in January 1762, when alpinism was still in its infancy and was far from being a cultural fact. On the 8th August 1786, he reaches the summit of Mont Blanc with doctor Paccard for the first time. This moment will go down in history. Even if the discovery of this original route was the result of a collective 25-year long effort, the different attempts of Jacques Balmat on the Mont Blanc were decisive for the accomplishment of this ascent.


Image section centre
Jacques Balmat dit "Mont Blanc"

Titre section centre
Jacques Balmat alias "Mont Blanc"

Contenu section centre

After the first Mont Blanc ascent, Paccard went back to his profession of doctor and Balmat was again the farmer, crystal hunter, chamois hunter and occasional guide that he had been before. He pocketed the reward promised by Saussure and was dubbed by the king of Sardinia – to which the Savoie region belonged at that time. His name was officially gratified by the aristocratic particle “dit Mont Blanc” (alias Mont Blanc). Jacques Balmat goes back to the summit several times, in particular with Saussure, who he will guide for the third ascent in 1787.

Solitary, mountains passionate, he will die alone in September 1834, at 74, while looking for some gold on the Mont Ruan, over Sixt- Fer à Cheval.