Gâteau de Chocolat

Today it rained. Today it rained a lot. After festering in the apartment for most of the day we decided to visit the climbing wall in Les Houches.

Les Houches Climbing Wall
Les Houches Climbing Wall

It was very busy – only the foolish would have attempted climbing outdoors today – and there seemed to be a lot of muscles on display, from both men and women. I felt quite inferior for a while, but then felt a little smug as at least I didn’t look as daft as the bear chested beeny clad youths!!

There was plenty to have a go at and things quietened down towards the evening, but by then my arms were knackered.

In fact they were so knackered I couldn’t possibly lift a saucepan, so we simply had to eat out…. which of course included desert – gâteau de chocolat.

A suitably named wine
A suitably named wine
Gâteau de Chocolat
Gâteau de Chocolat

Tarte aux Myrtles et Bière

Aiguille nord-est de Praz Torrent
Aiguille nord-est de Praz Torrent

After spending an age looking through all the guidebooks for a suitable route we came to the last route in Michel Piola’s Mont Blanc topo guide – Voie des Dalles on the Aiguille de Praz Torrent. It’s only drawback was that it required an hour and half uphill approach, but we felt sure our acclimatised heart, lungs and legs would cope well.

We were wrong! An hour and half turned into two full hours, but it was a beautiful and very quiet path, and on the way up we came across two chamois.

Chamois
Chamois

As we approached the bottom of the mountain the weather started to deteriorate much sooner than forecast. We sat and contemplated our options as we checked out the line of the route.

Laetitia checking the line of the route
Laetitia checking the line of the route

There was a short rain shower, but it stopped and we opted to carry on up. But as we were half way along the second pitch another heavy shower came across us. After ten minutes of indecision we opted for retreat.

Double rainbow
Double rainbow
Retreat from the rain!
Retreat from the rain!

Strangely the sun then showed it’s face, but we were not sure if more heavy showers would come. So we decided to bumble back down to the valley and check out the Cascade de Bérard. The sun stayed out, which made us more than a little frustrated that we had retreated too soon. We consoled ourselves with beer at the Hotel du Buet, and of course their finest Tart aux Myrtles! :yum:

Consolation at Le Buet
Consolation at Le Buet

Tarte aux Myrtles

After a quiet night (the Spaniards had left) we woke to a wet and windy morning (nothing to do with vegetables). Our legs would not allow us to walk back to the Midi so we caught the Hellbronner lift for the bargain price of €11. We got back to the Chamonix valley and were welcomed by pouring rain. 🙁

The clouds soon cleared (a little) and we spent the day resting and recuperating calories!

Tarte aux Myrtles - aka North Face reward!
Tarte aux Myrtles - aka North Face reward!

Tarte aux Pommes

La Tour Ronde North Face
La Tour Ronde North Face

After a leisurely start we took the lift up to the Aiguille du Midi and made the fearful descent down the ridge to the Col du Midi. Our plan was to acclimatise today in readiness for tomorrow’s big adventure, so we walked across towards the Torino hut via Point Lanchenal. The sun was scorching and we were quite exhausted by the time we got to the hut.

Setting off from the Torino Hut
Setting off from the Torino Hut

After only a few hours sleep, thanks to snoring Spaniards, we left the hut before the sun had risen and started the walk to the base of the North Face of La Tour Ronde.

Sunrise
Sunrise

The wind was blowing strongly and there was almost as much spin-drift as you’d find on a good day in the finest Scottish gullies. Un-perturbed we geared up and crossed the bergschrund. The climbing wasn’t technically demanding, perhaps Scottish V in places, but the lack of protection proved to be a strain on the nerves. After four consecutive sixty metre pitches with no protection we were psychologically tested.

Just after crossing the bergschrund
Just after crossing the bergschrund
Nearing the half way narrowing
Nearing the half way narrowing

The route was fantastic, in most places steep neve with an awkward ice section around some large blocks and a gripping (unprotected) 60m traverse across a powder snow face 😯 with the whole route gaping below. We topped out just as it started raining. Yes, raining at nearly 3792m! Time was moving on so we made a hasty descent down the Ordinary route and headed back to the hut, having missed any chance of catching the last lift back.

We made it back just in time for dinner, including tarte aux pommes! :yum: :yum:

Anything looks good when you're starving!
Anything looks good when you're starving!

Fraisier

After the mega rain yesterday and last night, there was no hope of a big day today. So after breakfast in bed we headed up to the Index for a half day with moderate altitude to get a little acclimatised just in case the weather gets better later in the week.

The journey up from La Flegere was questionable. It was still very cloudy after the rain and as this next picture shows, the prospect of getting above the cloud didn’t improve as we gained height!

Thick clouds on L'Index chairlift
Thick clouds on L'Index chairlift

Our objective was the classic route, L’Index. An easy route, but as we’d started so late waiting for the clouds to clear a bit and the rock to dry we had little time left before the last lift back down at 4.30 pm.

Luckily the weather did improve a fair bit, as the next picture shows. Although there was a fair amount of cloud whooshing around us the sun did show his face. 😀

Laetitia on the final pitch of L'Index
Laetitia on the final pitch of L'Index

The combination of the clouds and sunshine gave us an amazing Brocken Spectre at the top of the route! I just hope the picture shows up well on the web?

A short day and an easy climb, but never-the-less loads of fun!

As we sat eating our lunch we noticed hundreds of cars parked near the Chamonix heliport in Les Bois. We decided to investigate…

There was massive cross-country mountain biking race going on. We weren’t too sure but it seemed fairly serious stuff with massive tents for all the big name mountain bike brands and their professional rider teams. Plus there was an area set aside for some awesome stunt riding. The guy in this picture has just jumped, from an almost standing start, up 2m onto the log!!!

Mountain Bike stunt riding
Mountain Bike stunt riding

After all that, it was time for today’s cake… :yum:

Petits Gourmands finest Fraisier!
Petits Gourmands finest Fraisier!