Monday, 19 July 2010

Day 4 - An end to our summit aspirations?

The day started at 4am stumbling around in the dark whispering (so as not to wake up the other residents of the 10 bed dorm)। Breakfast was the compulsory coffee in a bowl and some dried bread then it was a quick check of our bags (crampons at the top for easy and immediate access), headtorches on and outside into the blackness.

This was all good practice as on Mont Blanc summit day we would have to be organised and prepared to do all this efficiently in the dark with even less sleep!

Finding your boots was a challenge in the dim light, but, clever us, we had mixed up the boots and tied them together so that in the dark no one would reach out and mistakenly find and walk off with your boots (this had apparently happened the week before and the person was required to descend in flip flops from the Albert premier hut).

Once booted up we made the trek down the step 50 metre track from the Trient hut to the snow where we then attached our crampons and roped together in readiness for the walk across the trient Glacier over to Aig du Tour (3542m).

Walking across the trient Glacier plain surrounded by darkness is an unforgettable and magical experience. The air is cold and fresh, your thoughts are clear as you listen to the crunch of snow under your feet, the view is restricted to only that illuminated by your headlamp. There is a real feeling of solitude even though you are sharing this experience with others. We trekked for 2 hours pausing around 6am to watch the sky illuminate with the rising sun and turn the peaks orange.

We reached the foot of Aig du Tour and scrambled up the Grade Facile (easy) peak to be greeted by some spectacular views across to Lake Geneva. Another peak done, we retraced our steps back to the Albert Premier and then onwards to the chairlift and into the gondola at around midday.

On the way down we met an American group who were on their way up. Andy & the American guide knew each other and they exchanged stories and weather reports briefly. One story that we overheard was that the American group had been due to make an ascent of Mont Blanc that day but had changed their plans deeming it too dangerous due to the instability of the Grande couloir (GC) - a steep gully that has to be crossed and is arguably the most treacherous part of the ascent due to its rock falls. The Guide reported that four deaths had occured the previous day in the GC.

It appears that the mountains are rife with stories that can sometimes bear little or no resemblance to the facts and Andy said that before we jumped to any conclusions he would get the facts and we would then be in a better position to assess the situation for ourselves.

This was a bit of a shock to us as it now seemed that our ambitions to climb Mont Blanc would not be realised. At the same time we knew it would be foolish to climb if the risks were so great. We had confidence in our guide and knew that whatever our desires, hopes and aspirations his decision would be final.

We turned our thoughts to a shower, some lovely food (thanks Martin :-)) and an afternoon spent in the jacuzzi........ oh and coffee in a cup!

10.45pm - Mont Blanc is on for of our group will not be joining us. So it is just myself, Anitia & Paul who will be attempting to reach the summit...gulp!

No comments:

Post a Comment