We just managed to get over the top of the light cloud and were rewarded with a ‘Brocken Spectre’ A good sign of settled weather.
Archive for September, 2009
Ricardo Cassin has passed away, leaving a legacy of mountaineering achievement that will outlast his 100 years of life. I well remember the evening when he came to Fort William to give a lecture in St Andrews Church Hall (Now Brighams) over the road from the Belford Hospital, where, on that same evening my youngest Daughter, Hannah, was being born. Many thanks to Ricardo Cassin
I have been fortunate enough to climb just a few of the iconic passages you created.
At the end of a full seven days of settled weather, we topped off the week with a traverse to Mt Blanc from the Cosmiques Hut. One local guide said that the conditions were the best he could remember.
The trail is all on good crunchy snow and the one short icy section on the Mt Maudit fixed lines is well protected. Yesterday at various sheltered places on the route, it was possible to light a match and it would have burned down to nothing.
Standing around too long was cold, but manageable with good warm kit and maybe a light duvet top to provide an extra layer of comfort. It really depends on how much ‘lard’ you carry on-board, along with personal fitness!
The view from Les Tines of Mt Blanc (top left) if it is climbed from the Gouter Hut, situated where the snow finishes at the right end of the skyline. The approach to this very busy hut involves a five hour trek and some serious exposure to stonefall, crossing the Grande Couloir.
The starting point from the Cosmiques Hut only requires a short approach after ascending to the Aiguille du Midi. Part of this hut approach is down a very exposed and narrow snow/ice crest. This same crest also provides a taxing finish to a long day if returning by the route after a successful summit.
The photo above was taken from the balcony of the Cosmiques Hut.
Julien and Joe at first light on the fixed lines at the top of the Mt Maudit Face. We had departed the hut around 3.30 a.m. To arrive at this point involves an ascent of the easy north flank of Mt Blanc du Tacul, which at the moment is fairly stable, but some years can have serious serac instability. Another short section of unstable seracs at the foot of the north flank of Mt Maudit should be departed with some haste.
On the horizon are the tallest Swiss peaks appearing above a sea of cloud. Monte Rosa – Matterhorn – Tasch – Dom – Weisshorn. On the left are the chaotic spires of Aiguille du Diable, leading up towards the summit rocks of Mont Blanc du Tacul. The middle distance is the Dent du Geant and Grande Jorasses, shrouded in cloud, with the Grande Combin behind these peaks.
This is a photo of the Chere Couloir, which is in pretty good shape just now and getting plenty of ascents. The last week has been blessed by cool weather, which will have a positive effect on bonding loose rocks. Routes on the ‘Triangle’ of Mt Blanc du Tacul are mostly in very good condition. One issue appears to be crossing late season bergschrunds, which have opened up to become steep and difficult in places.
Thanks to Mark and Jane Seaton for providing me with accommodation and Chris Ensoll working with me and the team this week. And of course to Mike, Jerry, Julien and Joe. Twelve seasons (?), in The Alps, Scotland and Norway have provided plenty of adventure and friendship. See you in the winter.
The good weather continues and provided a perfect day on one of the best ridges in the Alps. Our trip over three days succeeded on the South Ridge of the Dent Blanche. In this photo below it is the easier angled right hand crest.
One day approach, another for the climb over ten hours in total, and another for descent from the hut. I prefer to take the extra hut night in descent on this route, rather than continue for another three and half hours after a long day. This strategy also allows for a more leisurely climb, in the knowledge that a restful evening will follow the ascent. Unfortunately the hut had run out of beer!
An alpine trough full of icy water working wonders on aching knees. Just a pity I could not have taken it up to the hut, another three to four hours away. If ice baths work for Paula Radcliffe, it is worth a try, plus of course a double-dose of Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Calcium. Keep on truckin!
Great weather in the Alps just now. As training for Dent Blanche and Mt Blanc, our group were succesful on Aig du Tour and a fine little east ridge on Tete Blanche.
Aig du Tour, from either the Trient Hut or Albert Premier is very popular as a training exercise for bigger peaks. Currently at the end of the season the glacier approaches are fairly serious, with many crevasses being open.
Approaching the east-facing ridge of the Tete Blanche this morning, from the Trient Hut. A fine short climb, which arrives on the plateau and has a very simple glacier descent, back towards the valley, via the Albert Premier hut. In the background is the Aig du Tour, which we climbed from the Albert Premier Hut on Saturday enroute to the Trient Hut.