2 plane crashes and 20,000 climbers: Mont Blanc in numbers

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2 plane crashes and 20,000 climbers: Mont Blanc in numbers
The Massif of Mont-Blanc mountains and l'aiguille du Midi in the French Alps. Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP

Nicknamed the "roof of Europe", the mighty Mont Blanc attracts thousands of climbers each year.


A study published on Thursday found that it had shrunk by 2.22 metres since 2021, to 4,805,59 metres.

Here are some key figures about the highest peak in the Alps:


The number of Air India passenger planes to crash on Mont Blanc within a little over 15 years of each other in the 1950s and 1960s.

The first was the Malabar Princess, a Lockheed Constellation airliner that was en route from Bombay to London when it went down on a glacier on the southwest face of Mont Blanc on November 3rd, 1950, killing all 48 passengers and crew.

On January 24th, 1966, tragedy struck again when Air India's "Kangchenjunga", a Boeing 707 also travelling from Bombay to London, slammed into the same glacier.


All 117 passengers and crew, including the pioneer of India's nuclear programme, Homi Jehangir Bhabha, died.


The number of guides who were swept away by an avalanche in the first fatal accident on Mont Blanc in 1820.

The trio was accompanying a Russian scientist, Joseph Hamel, who was sent by Tsar Alexander I up the mountain to conduct experiments.

The guides wanted to turn back because of bad weather but Hamel insisted on forging ahead, becoming forever associated with the tragedy which he survived.


The highest temperature ever recorded at the summit of Mont Blanc on June 18th, 2022.

Temperatures at a weather station situated just below the peak, at 4,750 metres, remained above freezing for 11 consecutive hours while Europe baked in an unusually early heatwave.

In winter, the temperature at the summit regularly dips below -30C.


The number of years that passed before a French hunter won a competition launched by Swiss naturalist Horace Benedict de Saussure in 1760 to become the first person to conquer Mont Blanc.


Saussure, considered by many as the father of mountaineering, had promised a handsome reward to anyone who could find a way to the top.

Several failed attempts ensued before Jacques Balmat, a crystal hunter from Chamonix, and a local doctor Michel Paccard, reached the summit on August 8th, 1786.


The upper range of the number of people who try to summit Mont Blanc each year, according to the préfecture of Haute-Savoie where it is situated.

To avoid overcrowding, the town of Saint-Gervais has limited the number of climbers leaving each day along the most popular Gouter route to 214.


The estimated value in euros of the emeralds, rubies and sapphires found in a metal box near the summit in 2013, believed to have come from Air India's doomed Kangchenjunga.

The local climber who found them was rewarded for turning his find into the police.

He was allowed to keep half the haul, with the other half going to the town of Chamonix.


The record time set by Kilian Jornet of Spain for summiting the mountain and then returning on foot to the church in Chamonix, situated at 1,037 metres, on July 11th, 2013.

Jornet, 25, took 14 minutes off the previous record set by Swiss climber Pierre-Andre Gobet in 1990 to complete the climb, wearing shorts and trainers.


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