MONT BLANC 4810mts – Day 2 dangerous ascent

Brian gearing up at Tete rousse refuge
Brian gearing up at Tete rousse refuge

Tete Rousse 3110mts to Gouter refuge 3840mts….

Day 2
Relaxed start with breakfast in refuge Tete Rousse as we make our way the refuge Gouter hut(3817m) via the the very interesting Grand Couloir . This section tends to be more difficult and technical with a high level of concentration required.The route then ascends the boulders and exit cracks leading to the Gouter hut where we will rest up for the few hours before our summit bid.

 Today’s altitude gain to the untrained eye looks like a mere 730mts but the reality is that what lays ahead today is a very steep and if not carefully navigated a dangerous ascent on the les rouchers rouges ridge taking in the difficult crossing of the le grand couloir known in mountaineering circles as the “bowling alley” due to the free flowing boulders as you tip toe through the rock filled gorge.

So the team slept relatively well and a simple breakfast served up at 7am “made up of bread & black coffee”, let’s say you won’t get filled on it, but having experiences here before tucked away & a welcomed surprise was enough ready break for us all to bulk up the mornings eat and fuel for the ascent ahead.

Everyone was in a go slow pace taking in some of the magnificent views and photographing the glacier de le Tete Rousse & bionnassay snaking endlessly up the valley below, trying hard to capture the emotions and views to try & explain this most beautiful sight.

The team experienced a slight set back at breakfast as one of the party Brian has been struggling with the altitude and a fear has overcome him with the vertical terrain and has chosen to decent with another two climbers who also have been struggling with sickness overnight. With a heavy heart we continued departing at 11am saying our goodbyes as Brian wished us well. Brians courage in reaching 3110 mts and his first exposure to super high altitude and also dealing with the situation and reaching Tete Rousse was remarkable in light of his hidden demons. Brian descended back to chaminox safely.

Onwards the team went in great spirit as we clamped on our crampons & the rest of our climbing technical equipment , by now we all roped up to each other as a line of safety with ice axes in one hand and the rope coiled in the other , I took up the lead keeping the pace soft and manageable avoiding pushing to hard bringing on unnecessary exhaustion.

The views by now are just breath taking snow capped mountains surrounding us and endless ridges shaping the line of sight on the horizon.

The glacier now beneath us in full view in its splendor a formation century’s old shaped with the most beautiful contours and crevasses and then suddenly with out warning the team witness there first avalanche “thankfully at a distance of a few kilometers” but a gentle reminder that natures in control up here and you a mere spectator as the mountain gives you permission to enjoy it’s wonderful garden.

By now we have reached the steep walled bouldering section of the  les rouchers rouges ridge as it roars up in front of us & beyond we see perched high above the goal for today the Gouter refuge.

The team took it in there stride step after step carefully navigating through the field of granite boulders “sometimes as big as a small car” soon we arrive at the grand couloir and at a breeze we crossed. Now the snow is heavy and we are now in proper winter conditions with temperatures dropping to a cool chill, yet our body temperatures protected with the enduring slog upwards.

I can’t but feel so proud of the team as their keen to continuously challenge the tough sections of the climb compounded with ice & snow, and still with smiles from ear to ear as they know there higher in the world than they have ever been before.The 12 point crampons digging in securing the grip on the mountain moving at times from snow to rock making life somewhat uncomfortable underfoot.

By now appears a welcomed sight, the use of wire cable attached to steeper sections of the climb & on we slog ticking off meter after meter as i encourage the guys to enjoy the splendor of the views. Up ahead we can see other teams struggling and like ourselves enduring step after step as the Gouter refuge slow comes closer & closer bringing with it the euphoria of success for day two , and there it is the last and final few steps now the legs that till now felt filled with lead have now lighted to point of a slight sprint….  Behind me i hear clive mutter out “yes yes” as the rest “francie & Keith” let there emotion flow with relief “were here were finally here – what a feeling, i here them say .. We’re here”.

On the Gouter ridge the realisation of what they have achieved as the look down sinks in as we make our way to the refuge , not before we mark this moment with some pictures as we take our best mountaineering poses.. Hahaha

Everyone’s in top form and a real high radiates in the team now as we know the summit at 4810mts looms closer & within our grips.

Stripping down our technical gear and the relief of taking of those now steaming hot boot followed with a well earned can of coke “costing €5 as this height I don’t think they have much completion” could see a wee shop opportunity up here me thinks “black high altitude corner shop”…Lol.

Dinners at six made up of soup & rice – yes soup & rice , no frills but beats the noodles on mt Everest.

At dinner the questions were flowing with excitement laced with the anxiousness of the great unknown that lay ahead.

Our summit bid starts at 2.30 am as we awake and gear up launching attack 3am towards the dome du Gouter then the col du dome with a short sharp slope to the emergency vallot refuge onto the grand bosses & petites bosses where altitude claims many victims next it’s the la tournette and finally the bosses  ridge the most exposed section of the climb to the summit expecting arrival 7.30am ..

I’m expecting temperatures of -16 so it will be very cold . From there it’s traverse and down the three months to the aiguille du midi taking a well earned cable to Chaminox where cold beers await .. Lol.

All this in a hefty 11 hour day.

So signing off everyone’s in great form and feeling strong , brian has touched base and is safely down and back in Chaminox hopefully arranging the home coming party ….lol

Greeting from mont Blanc.

& thank you for the support on the blog your good wishes is helping the team no end.


Donegal team Abu