A weekend in Chamonix…

My sister, Saskia, and her husband Nick had booked to go to Chamonix for a long weekend, so we decided to grate-crash their party and join in the fun.

Pete was working on Friday, but I had finished early so I could spend the day showing my sister and Nick the delights of Chamonix. The views, the shops, the cakes, the restaurants, the shops, the bars, the views, the pain au raisin, the ice cream, did I mention the views…? In the first few hours of Friday morning we had managed to sample quite a few!

In the afternoon they took the ride up to the Aiguille du Midi while I relaxed on the balcony and read my book.

To celebrate their first day’s adventure we decided to drop into Cha Cha Cha just on the edge of town. This is a wine-bar that always seemed a bit scary, like you should know you’re wine from your plonk before you enter, but as Nick is a bit of a wine buff we decided it would be a bit of a laugh to try out some of their selection. We started with 3 white’s with varying prices,then moved on to 3 reds. In summary, most of us liked the middle expense white the best and the most expensive red the best. We went back on Saturday evening and sampled some more white’s, a red and a rosé.

Sampling the fine wine in Cha Cha Cha

On Saturday we went our separate ways. Me and Pete tackled the Voie des Dalles while Saskia and Nick enjoyed the walk and views from Plan Praz to Flégère. That night, after our re-visit to Cha Cha Cha, we decided to reopen the debate between the American and the Double Orient… I think the American still won!

On Sunday we decided that Saskia and Nick needed a bigger adventure. The forecast was for scorchio!, so a trip on the Mer de Glace was what was required. Our only concern was, would Saskia be able to cope with the ladders…?

For those that might not already know…, there a few ways to get down to the Mer de Glace from Montenvers. The bubble lift, the path, or the alpinist route – the ladders! The ladders are getting longer and longer as the glacier recedes, but it is by the far the quickest and most fun route.

As Nick said, "Does Pete have to be quite so close to Saskia's arse!?"
Nick looking confident.
Alpinists making their way down the bottom half of the ladder system.

Nick found it all very easy, and Saskia managed really well. She was really quick – much quicker than some of the walkers we saw that looked well seasoned. She was nervous, but she gritted her teeth, held on tight and just got on with it.

Once at the bottom, we took them a little way up the Mer de Glace staying well clear of any dangerous ground, but giving them the opportunity to peer over some of the smaller crevasses and see the excellent views up and down the valley.

Laetitia, Saskia and Nick enjoying the views from the Mer de Glace
Negotiating crevasses.
Nick and Saskia
On the glacier moraine with the Dru in the background.
An alpine butterfly (not a knot)

Of course, all that adventuring can only mean one thing….

They're all mine...

Jenna’s Back on Rock!

After a month of forced rest Jenna tried her ankle at the Wasserfall Klettergarten yesterday. We went there with a couple of friends and had a wonderful time in perfect weather. Only the 5 a.m. departure was a bit unpleasant but we wanted to be at the crag very early as we expected a lot of people there. We were quite wrong, again, we had the entire place just to ourselves almost all day!

When we got tired from climbing we just took a rest.

The place was full of friendly butterflies, they were just everywhere. I even had a lunch guest.

But they were literally everywhere, even in the most unlikely places

In the afternoon Jenna made up her mind and did a route. It went just fine! She even demolished a 5+ route!

It was a beautiful day at a beautiful place!

Staden Quarry

Another sunny day in the Peak! 😀 But it was quite windy, and a cold wind at that. So even though Richard and Helen decided to go to Shinning Clough we stayed low and sheltered with a visit to Staden Quarry near Buxton. We’d never been there before, so it was another excellent choice by the Peak-Monster Paul! 😆 However, it was a popular choice, there must have been another 20+ climbers already there. But there are loads of routes to go at and we didn’t have to queue at all. Nice.

The delightfully sunny Staden Quarry

The perfectly flat meadow in the quarry is an amazing butterfly heaven. There were loads of different pretty little coloured butterflies all around, we caught this snap of a Common Blue…

When we got back to the cars there were little slips of paper under all the windscreen wipers. I’ve repeated the content of the slip below, please join us in objecting the unbelievable plans to build a factory in this beautiful location. The quarry is a perfect wildlife sanctuary, plus, it’s in the middle of national park, how can this be allowed?

There are plans to build a water bottling plant in the quarry. 😯 The plant will be surrounded by car and lorry parking after a programme of quarry mound processing and removal of aggregate. Waste material will be placed on the quarry floor, wildlife will disappear. The footpath will look on to an industrial estate, and the climbing will be ruined. Please object at:

A pretty little Common Blue butterfly

We climbed several routes including Laetitia’s lead of the slightly polished Bimbo the Exploding Lorry Driver’s Gulch Eliminate

Laetitia leading a slick Bimbo the Exploding Lorry Driver's Gulch Eliminate (VS)
Paul following Bimbo the Exploding Lorry Driver's Gulch Eliminate

We finished the day on the excellent Welcome to Hard Times. What a great route, from the ground it looks like there won’t be any protection as it doesn’t really follow a crack, but all the holds and gear are there – you just have to be positive and creative.

Pete on the superb Welcome to Hard Times (E2)