An unimaginable amount of crystals is hidden in the Mont Blanc Massif. The treasures are normally not easy to find. However, the beautiful, clear gem that I’m holding in the lead photo was just laying around on a small ledge on a steep rock face. A friend of mine found it last year while climbing above the Bionnassay glacier. And this summer, I got lucky myself: I spotted a tiny crystal between the rocks on the Plan d’Aiguille above Chamonix. It’s pretty small and a bit damaged, but I don’t care, I am so excited that I found a hidden gem!
Many different types
Crystals were once formed about ten kilometers beneath the ground. Due to the rise of the Alps, the minerals where pushed upwards. Nowadays, many different types of crystals are found in the Mont Blanc region, like a wide variety of quartz, amethysts and fluorite, but our mountains are especially known throughout the world for its smoked quartz and pink fluorite.
Where to see them
You might get lucky too and find a crystal in the mountains while trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc. However, the gems are generally well hidden, but don’t worry, there are some wonderful places where you can admire the local diversity of crystals:
- Chamonix has a beautiful museum, le Musée des Cristeaux – Espace Tairraz. This local museum is responsible for preserving the most beautiful pieces discovered in the massif and is certainly worth a visit.
- In Courmayeur (Italy) – day 5 of your Tour du Mont Blanc – you have the opportunity to visit the Skyway Monte Bianco. This technological cable car rotates while reaching over 11,000 feet in elevation (3,466 meters). At the top of Punta Helbronner, you will find mesmerizing views of the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif, but also a permanent crystal exhibition showing the beautiful varieties of quartz and other minerals typical of the area.
This blog is the first part of a series about the crystals and gem hunters of Mont Blanc:
- Crystals of Mont Blanc
- Crystal Hunters of Mont Blanc
- Portrait of a Crystal Hunter
- The Secrets of Crystal Hunting