Monday, 1 April 2013

A tough first day in chamonix

After arriving in chamonix and conditions not being the best I was starting to feel like things might not happen, we spent most of Saturday eating croissants and sipping coffee, amongst looking at all the shiny new gear in the shops, The snow was still falling and all i could think is how bad it was gonna be up high. we checked the forecast for at the end of the day and it was showing better weather for the following afternoon, we decided to take the chance and set the alarm for the first lift up.
We woke at 0540 to heavy snowfall outside, after a little chat we decided to go back to sleep for a few hrs, we woke again around 0900 and it had stop snowing, we had a little chat and thought we we go up anyway even if its to wonder around to try a get a little acclimatised, we had the hope that the cloud would clear and might be able to at least get a good walk across the glacier in.
We arrived at the station and there many skiers there also hoping for conditions to improve, myself and Julian were getting a few funny looks, maybe due to fact that its normally only crazy English boys that go out climbing in this weather. finally the weather cleared and we could get out. we headed on down the midi arete, this was much easier than in the summer season, we fitted the snow shoes and started across the glacier, to be honest it was knowhere near as hard as i thought it would be. Julian was having quite abit trouble with his snow shoe so we lost allot of time, but we eventually made it to the cosmiques hut. by this time it was around 15:00. I was feeling good so I mentioned to Julian that we try the cosmiques back up to the station, he was happy so we went for it.
The snow up the first ridge section was pretty deep and powdery, there were another team up higher so they had helped a little with the step cutting, the weather was amazing and we seemed to be moving pretty quick, Julian then had a problem with his over boot and crampon coming off, we probably lost around 20 minutes until he decided to ditch the over boot and refit the crampon and climb on, we soloed most of the route other than the very snowed up traverses that seemed a little worrying. we arrived at the crux section and time was getting on, it was around 17:00 now so we had missed the last lift down, this was not good as it was our first day high and we were not acclimatised.
We climbed on, the crux was pretty cool, the climbing wasn't hard but it felt so much different to previous times id climbed this route, we moved on round and started up the mixed pitches, by this time the sun was dropping and we had the most amazing cloud inversion, the temperature had dropped by this time and my fingers and cheeks were starting to freeze but the view was taking the pain away, we finished on up the route to its summit just as the sun was going down, it was so beautiful and just for a short while i had forgotten what lied ahead for the night.
We walked around for a while and found the warmest place to sleep, it just so happened it was the men's toilets in the midi station, we also wernt alone, another British team were also out on the hill and had planned to stay the night.
By this time i was feeling pretty rough and my head was pounding, i was also being sick allot, it was defiantly going to be a long night, I made myself a bed as comfy as i could using bothy bags and rope.. i dint sleep much, i found myself illusinating lots and wondering where i was, i think Julian pretty much felt the same. Eventually morning arrived and the guardian came and let us know that the first lift down would be soon, we packed up, said our goodbyes to the other team and headed on down.
Today as been a day of rest and looking at ideas for tomorrow, we have decided to head up on the first lift and go and have a look at the pellisier gully on pointe lachenel, the walk in is going to be tough but hopefully we can get there and make an attempt, we plan on staying high tomorrow night so maybe we can get something done Wednesday to..

Ive got to say alpine winter is defiantly a different ball game and seriously not for the faint hearted but does have it rewards.

The midi plan traverse

Me getting a little excited to be back on the hill

waiting for the weather to pass before heading out

 glimpse of the cosmiques arete with mont blanc
in the distance behind

Julian following on up the first section of the route

Enjoying the sun and amazing veiws

Julian leading one of the mixed sections

A very cold and snowy me

Julian coming up the last pitch with an amazing veiw behind

Finishing up the last stroll to the station.

two happy but tired climbers

The end to a good day

Panoramo taken with my phone..

A bad night up high, thank got for the toilet.

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Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are
naught without prudence, and that a momentary negliance may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; Look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end