Thursday, 9 July 2009

Chamonix update - Thursday 9th July

I've been in Chamonix for two weeks now and we've been on a great variety of routes in a mix of weather.
First of all, Ron and I went up to Les Cheserys from the Col des Montets for some sunny slab climbing. The weather had been giving us a fairly regular pattern of clear skies, sunny mornings and showery and stormy afternoons and evenings so we looked for routes high up that we could complete early in the day.
Cosmiques Arete was first and we took an early cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi and romped up the route and got back down to Chamonix just as the rain started to pour down in bucketloads! There was much more snow on the arete than when I have climbed it in the past and we needed crampons all the way.
Our next outing was to walk over the Vallee Blanche to spend the night in the Torino Hut ready for an early start so we could climb the North Face of the Tour Ronde. The snow was good and the climbing more straightforward than we expected though we stuck to the left hand side of the climb and instead of exiting on to easy ground above the narrow crux section, we followed a shady, icy gully for a further fifty metres before climbing out onto the snow slopes above. The sun actually hits the route quite early on so by keeping to the left, we managed to stay in the shade on good snow and ice. A party to the right were wading up knee deep in soft snow.
Next was a completely different trip, this time from Vallorcine up to the Emosson Dam, with Ron, Gerry and Lorna, then through the Gorges de Veudale, around the Lac du Vieux Emosson to a little Cabane where we spent the night. The following morning we trekked up to the Site des Dinosaures (incredible dinosaur footprints in the rock!) then on up the scree slopes of Cheval Blanc and onto the North Ridge of Mont Buet with its exposed ridge and sections of steep rock and cables. And all this in what the French described as "temps eccossais" or Scottish weather!
There is a mix of sun and cloud here today and it's quite cool and on Tuesday, the rain that we were soaked by was falling as snow high up so conditions will have changed yet again!

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