Arriving to Chamonix heralds climbing and mountains. It is a beautiful and inspiring environment. Those who are not eager to go mountaineering, will be automatically once here in Europe’s climbing center 🙂
Our journey towards Western Europe’s highest peak will start with a few days of acclimatization. Both to the environment and to the height.
After everyone has made up their equipment with whatever was missing or had to be done, we head towards the mountains. We take the lift by Le Tour Col de Balme, which takes us via the Charamillon up to Les Autannes at 2 195 meters above sea level. Here the trek begins.
We’re going towards Glacier du Tour to sleep the first night in Albert 1er Refuge at 2 702 meters above sea level. The hike there is indescribably beautiful, and when we get closer to the glacier it feels like the adventure starts for real. We walk out onto the glacier and practice some crampon techniques, some roping techniques. You feel extra humble in these surroundings.
The next morning we put our crampons on and go out on the glacier – today we’ll climb Petit Fourche – a mixed summit at 3 520 meters above sea level. The weather gods are with us and the sun rises over Le Tour and Trient. The hike is fairly easy and very beautiful.
Once by the foot of the mountain the slope becomes pretty much steeper. After initially climbing on snow the climb is ended on rock. The rope team (we are tied in to one only) is moving easily and smoothly up to the summit and we are rewarded with what is the very essence of why we’re doing this – extreme views of an extreme nature – standing on summit – being one with the elements. That’s why I’m doing this!!!
We make it down Petit Fourche and move towards the Trient plateau or Trient glacier – it is huge. To get down onto the glacier we rappel down 40 meters and make it to Cabane de Trient, 3 170 meters above sea level. Cabane du Treine is, by far, the nicest hut of the trip. Here, we eat good and rest throughout the afternoon and evening.
Early next morning, it’s time again. This time it’s the southern summit of Aiguille du Tour 3 540 meters above sea level – which is our goal. In the light of our head lamps we move out into infinity. Only the sound of our crampons against the snow crust can be heard. Maybe a little breathing. Apart from that, mostly devotions is heard :-). We greet the sunrise when in the middle of the glacier and, yes, I know – but you feel very small and grateful when you get to be a part of this. Far away on the horizon, we see Matterhorn and its so very characteristic silhouette.
The ascent of Aiguille de Tour is a little longer on rock – maybe 100 metres – and the climb is a little more exposed. In some instances, it’s quite some distance down. But the reward is there, at the top, as usual 🙂 Watch this clip (not our climb, but the same mountain)
Then it’s time to get down, down all the way to Chamonix. Down is not my strong side. My knees (yes both:-)) protest fairly soon. But I know this – I just need to bite the bullet.
It feels strange and nice at the same time, to be back in Chamonix in the evening. But soon we’ll head up the mountain again – and then it’s the huge White Mountain who is next.
All in all, I feel ready to take on the challenge 🙂