An Alpine start, we got up extra early this morning to catch the 6.10am lift up to the Aiguille du Midi. Our plan was to climb Cheré Gully on the Triangle du Tacul, but by the time we got there someone had taken away the Triangle du Tacul. In fact someone had taken away everything! It was a complete white-out and we could barely see 10m away.
There is one great advantage to a white-out on the top of the Aiguille du Midi – the fearful ridge decent from the safety of the station isn’t half so fearful, even with a strong cross wind.
I had been worried about finding the route, I hadn’t really thought we’d have problems finding the damn mountain, but after 90 minutes of zig-zagging across the Valley Blanche, the clouds eventually departed and it all seemed very obvious.
The route was excellent, great ice and not at all steep, but I was suffering from a pulled calf muscle (all that bumbling around like incompetent Alpinists) and I was struggling by the time we got half way up. The freezing wind made up our minds and we abseiled back down, just before the clouds returned and engulfed us in white again.
Perhaps we could complete the route in winter with a ski decent of Valley Blanche?
We’d planned a day up high today after our little bit of acclimatisation yesterday. But as luck would have it Laetitia has caught a cold!
So, to save the day Paul & Pete hired some big hitter downhill mountain bikes and caught the ski lift to the top of the Col de Balme! The top section – single track following what seemed like the steepest part of a red ski run – was only just within our abilities to get down without killing ourselves. It certainly justified all the armour in the picture…
After waking up to a beautiful morning, late as usual, I was keen to get out after two days cooped up in the apartment. After a hasty breakfast, we (Paul, Laetitia and Pete; Boris went to climb some ice somewhere on the glacier) drove to the train station to grab a train up to Montenvers. Driving seemed lazy, but it turned out to be the first good move of the day, getting us on to a train before it got super busy.
An hour an a half plodding up the Mer de Glace got us to the Envers slabs, where we climbed Pilier des rhodo-dindons. Excellent slabby climbing with an amazing view, and in full sun all day.
We finished with just enough energy left to climb the ladders back to the Montenvers train station, and with just enough time to actually catch a train!
A thin slab with an amazing background view (photo by Paul)
What a view! (photo by Paul)
Today, the weather was as forecasted, fantastic. The clear crisp morning would have been perfect conditions for heroic activities at 4000m, but not for us.
During the early hours of the morning, there was sudden and alarming activity in the Sterling residence; as first Pete, and then Boris, made numerous mad rushes to the toilet. Had I poisoned them….? I decided not as both me and Paul were both fine.
With climbing out, me, Paul and an almost recovered Boris, decided to go for a walk. We took the Brevent lift up to the mid-station and then casually made our way along the beautiful Alpine scenery towards Col des Montets. We stopped for a nice long lunch, spied (through binoculars) numerous people descending on various routes from Mont Blanc, got pretty close to some goat like creatures (they’re not chamois, but I don’t know what they are), and eventually made our way down to the Col, where Peter heroically came and picked us up.
It was a beautiful day.
Laetitia contemplates a knife? (photo by Paul)
Pete’s plan A today seemed to also be plan A for every beginner in the valley. We approached Valorcine and found it heaving with would be climbers. Every route was occupied by young students learning the ropes.
Crowds of beginners!
We managed to find a route that isn’t in the guide, so we quickly climbed that to get above the crowd. Then Paul tackled a very thin slab on the right and Pete dragged me up a very tricky number on the left that traversed under a roof. This was definitely not a slab.
We abseiled down and decided to leave the crag to the crowd. The forecasted rain was on it’s way so we consoled ourselves with tea and cakes, of course.
Paul on the superb thin slab
Pete under a roof?
Yes this slab (sorry, wall, Terry) was “Grande” and great fun too. Although I think we got off route a bit at one point finding ourselves in the middle of very blank slab some way above the last protection! But that isn’t surprising, we had no guidebook, just Paul’s vague recollection of the route from quite a few years ago…
Another “Plan B”, popping over to Switzerland to escape the showers in Chamonix, another amazing day.
Paul and Boris
We said we’d get back to Le Chapeau (it was good last time) – and today the poor forecast coupled with our forgetting the guidebook meant we needed a plan B; Chapeau…
Paul, Boris, Laetitia and Pete grabbed four excellent granite slab routes before today’s thunderstorms started.
Testing moves on a 6c slab! (photo by Paul)