Day one of the journey to the summit of Mont Blanc…This years route selection i have chosen to not opt for the comfort of the Bellevue cable car & Tram Mont Blanc, instead climb directly from Les Houches south of Chamonix directly up to Baraque des Rognes (2768m) & on to our refuge for the night Tete Rousse hut (3167m).
Apologies for delayed post but fingers were as tired as the legs as we rolled into Tete Rousse at close to 10pm.
The day started of with an early rise departing Dublin fully loaded with technical kit and the team in great spirits but nervously apprehensive of the great unknown…
Arriving in Geneva we were swiftly transported on the Cham express, a small seven seater bus I prior arranged, to take us the Chamonix valley and to the base of the mighty snow capped Mount Blanc.
So let me introduce you to the team I’m guiding this weekend, all local and fun filled Donegal lads that I’ve known as great friends all my life starting within Brian Mc Fadden, two twins Clive & Keith Davison, Francie Gallagher and finally myself taking up the rear….
Back to the journey the banter and discussions in the bus as we climbed higher and higher. and then it happened the moment they had been waiting for, the sight of the highest mountain in Northern Europe the mighty Mont Blanc standing big and bold like a queen among her peers at 4810mts… it.was of the sheer beauty the sight of the jagged ridges of the Alp Mts surrounding it through a silhouette of the sun filled horizon.. With comments flowing “Whaooo, how beautiful to O my God, how the hell” but it was great it was like a supercharge, we were finally here after all the training and preparation, the lads are here face to face.
With your neck fully extended focusing on the summit that lays up close to that heavenly site with a quick bite of lunch were off, fully loaded and the nervous excitement I could feel in the team was fantastic.
Personally I was super excited myself just to be back in the big hills as my Himalayan experience on my Everest – reconnected with mother natures greatest gift these high altitude mountains now quickly becoming more and more my sanctuary.
Our starting point is a beautiful typically French village of Les Houches and the normal approach is the use of the cable car and tram to ascend you well up the mountain but not for us as a pure climber that’s like cheating and were here to climb not take shortcuts.
So 12.45pm from Les Houches we ascend up through a forest path higher and higher with a severe gradient winding side to side slightly helping with recovery.
Soon we could get a great glimpse of Chamonix town in the distance and above sitting high and so majestic was the Aguidi da midi, a high set of marble rock sharp like spike formations with a man made cable car structure set on top that transports tourists up and down to Chamonix”.
The temperatures are warm and it’s dry as we reach Belvedere and on to the tram tracks that now has become our path to our day one destination Tete Rousse refuge 3110mts ..
The gradient is relentless and energy sucking but the team is strong with Clive setting the pace stopping now and again in awe of the views below.
Leaving the use of the tram tracks for navigation we now enter the mountain proper as we follow a small beaten path as it curls up and up . By now Mont Blanc has a heavy cloud resting like a crown on the head it’s queen. Cloud base looks as low as 3800mt as we can from time to time spot Friday nights rest refuge Gouter hut perched precariously on the side of the mountain know here as the great silver coffin, I suppose if it moves and your in it well!! You can figure the rest out!.
By now we are four hours into the climb and the body’s are tired with the never ending ascent but everyone’s feeling good. Higher and higher we climb as the sun set behind us the beautiful red glow warms everyone’s hearts and etches a memory so few will see.
Darkness falls and with that we enter crampon point as the snow thickens on the ground ,so now strapped to our feet are these monster like 24 pointed spikes giving incredible traction on the snow higher and higher contouring now on really steep ground and with narrow ledges with faily hair raising drops below but at all times were safe with the use of permently place support ropes in the mountain to hold on to ,if not for anything else just to help the mental battle the team are now experiencing.
Tempatures now cold we stop laying up with more clothing our head tourch been the only sence of heat .
The view from here at 2900mt is beautiful as we could see the villages below there lights orange in colour sparking & twinkling like a beautiful Christmas tree. The night is still with little winds almost perfect conditions.
By now the team is very tired and the pace has washed off to a slow steddy stomp and breathing heavy but still all committed to reaching our destination , after a punishing eight hours there it is we see it ahead a welcomed sight of a warm glowing window radiating of life….
Now 10pm it’s off with technical equipment and with these tired limbs we enter welcomed by a well earned bowl of soup brown bread and cheese…
Wrecked an exhausted its off to bed, it’s not the ritz I here Francie say but quickly answered by one and another dam it will do as the laughs ring out.
I was so impressed with the team as it was there first baptisim in super high altitude climbing – but there coping really, really well.
Tomorrow breakfast is arranged for 7am and from there we will continue our ascent on the next leg to the Gouter refuge at 3800mt crossing the grand coliour and up into the aggressive approach , under foot is expected snow cover boulders – weather forecast looks good & clear.
Regards to family love ones and followers.
Thanks to all for the support
Catch you all tommorow
Jason & Team