Monday, 14 August 2017

Tooth ache…

August 17

The alps this Summer was always going to be tricky with less snow over the winter period than normal and then very high early season temperatures…Mark takes up the story.

Craig and I arrived in Chamonix knowing that the Frendo was not in condition. So, after a day at the crag we headed up the Midi for a look at the Midi Plan Traverse…we got as far as the col and turned back as there was a lack of good snow cover to make the climb possible or enjoyable. On return to the Midi we opted for the Cosmic Arête, this was on rock all the way and was quiet so we made good time despite coming from sea level the day before.

The next day we headed to the Torino hut to put ourselves into a good position for the Dent du Géant and make use of the only good stable day forecast for that week.

We headed out in the afternoon to scope the route and see how many slots we would be negotiating next morning. After a night of no sleep and reminding ourselves that alpine huts are not for sleeping in (they are for spending the night in!) we were up and out the door at 4:30am. The glacier had firmed up nicely and we made good time to the rock band after point 3537. We tiptoed over the loose rock for an hr to get to the Salle a Manger to find others already on the route.

Surprised to find all other parties were sporting full racks and rock shoes, we on the other hand had 4 slings, 4 draws and big boots. The first pitch had some fixed cord to pull on but the climbing went at 4 so we carried on keeping the pitches quite short till we got to the Burgener slabs. The route was busy but we held our own and arrived at the summit by pulling on the odd ankle and standing on  Italian and French guides heads (or Heids as we sometimes say here in Scotland).

We made the normal abseil down the short side easily with 3 x 60m raps but not before the Italian guide managed to cluster f**k our ropes (this is a true European skill). This meant 4 of us had to hang, unite and sort the tangled mess (Craig is quite skilled at this).

Heading down to the glacier the air was full of the sound of falling rocks so it was no great surprise when stepping across the bergschrund that half the hill (mountain) fell across our path…Running at altitude tied to a rope should be in the Olympics!

Safely back in Cham we set about replacing the 3,000 odd calories burnt by eating double Pizza and rehydrating with grande biere.

The next day as per the forecast the rain thundered down, but we were happy siting about eating more pizza and drinking copious cappuccinos (lots of biere).

With a deteriorating weather forecast our planned move to Switzerland for a go at the Matterhorn didn’t happen so we set about reading guide books for easy long routes at lower altitude to do in the rain.

All in we had a great trip even if it was cut short by the storms…