So starts a bit of a soggy few days in the Cham valley. Chris, Mark and I walked up to the Albert Prem hut; not much snow left on the approach path now, just a long section going up to the hut. As per, the hut was full to the gills and then some and then just a bit more. A lot of the bivi spots higher up above the hut are now clear of snow, glacier still a wet one but patches of ice are starting to show through low down.
Below the Albert Premier hut
We did some skills in the afternoon, rope work, crampons, etc. The forecast for the Monday was not a good one; we were all prepared for Le Mexican stand off. Got up at 6am to very very low cloud and rain, so a slow breakfast and let the stand off begin.
Hut fever finally got the better of us, so the team and I, along with Matt Dickinson and Phil Ashby headed off into the wild white yonder. It took us about 4 and half hours to get across to the Trient hut, nav wasn’t too bad, just checked every now and then to make sure we were heading in correct direction.
Tuesday dawned, well it arrived, not with bird song and blue sky, just more of the same, so it was a return journey across the Trient plateau.
Mer de Glace ladders
Wednesday however was a different kettle of badgers, sunny and warm, so me and the boys headed to the Mer du Glace, for a day of running, jumping and general jolliness with our crampons on.
Rubber dinghy rapids in the Mer de Glace - Chris contemplates!
Thursday: We headed up to the Midi, and down the snow Arête. Focus focus focus was the name of the game going down; we managed it with meeting people on the way up, which always makes things easier. Quite busy up there, looked like a few teams on the South face routes, and on the Pyramid, Triangle du Tacul, Left Edge had been done, so had the Chere, masses on the Cozzy Arete, and a few on the Midi Plan, which sounded like it was in good condition, you had to return the same way though. Guides had been turning back from Mont Maudit the day before due to very icy condition, and these conditions still prevailed on Thursday to a degree, but would have improved since then.
Friday 3 am breakfast due to mild temps and we were off and on our way, there are a couple of steep sections low down on M.B. du Tacul, and no real bergshrund action to worry about just yet ,but looking at them I reckon that may change quite soon, if we get a hot spell.
Mont Blanc du Tacul
We got to the shoulder at just over 4000 metres, and decided due to the state of play that we would not go for the summit, and take a steady descent.
View from Tacul towards Torino Hut, Tour Ronde and Grand Cap
The slog back up the arête is what it is…….we had to wait for a gap in the traffic, and had a few interesting moments when a team just couldn’t or wouldn’t wait for us to do the last few metres. But the boys did well and dug deep and stayed calm
There’s been quite a few routes done this week, check the Chamonix Guides office web site for the full listing and current weather and mountain conditions, it’s a super useful web site.
I have next week off, which is great, as I have a stinker of a cold, and its not a good forecast, I’m then into a 5 weeks of back to back, couple of Cham Intro courses and a similar in Arolla then 2 Mont Blancs in the same week, all for Adventure Peaks.
Thanks to Chris Cox and Mark Sheen, for their patience and understanding this week and your company, and Mark your rucksack is on your back……….
Take care out there folks.
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