Mont Blanc the mountain of eternal snow – it’s the last few days of May and most skiing has been closed for a month or more.
Starting out for our climb involves a walk down the ridge from the summit station on the Aiguille du Midi and short ski round to the refuge Cosmiques.
1 am alarm comes very quickly; you don’t feel like breakfast but it’s necessary.
Out the door and skis on, a short slide brings us to the base of Mont Blanc du Tacul, skins on the base of our skis and up we go.
A few hundred meters up and it gets steep and firm, change to Crampons and skis on our backs.
Two hours grind further on and we are on the shoulder, changing back to skis to slide over to Mont Maudit – it’s still very dark.
It’s time to rope up as dawn approaches, it’s chilly but not cold, there is a perfect stillness in the air as the light changes.
The Shoulder of Maudit is a steep but short, fixed rope, axe as well as the crampons. We are rewarded by an amazing vista, deep into France, Italy and Switzerland.
A short decent brings us to Col Brenva, things have changed and got harder. There is a stiff breeze trying to freeze us, we are feeling the effects of Altitude and one of my crampons has collapsed.
Kimberly and Col Brenva
We eat some food, tie and strap my crampon together, and start up the final slog.
It’s not very far in terms of distance or height from Col Brenva to the summit of Mont Blanc, but it’s the toughest part of the climb – how hard a gentle slope can feel when the Altitude, and cold are biting away at you.
At 11 am, having been on our feet for just over 9 hours, we’ve made it. It’s a beautiful sunny day and we can see (almost) forever in every direction. Anything higher is a long way round the curvature of the earth.
Summit Team - Glen and Kimberly Plake and me!
Me on the summit!
Smiles, Photos, Snack and it’s time to ski.
At 4807m there is a lot of wind, hence our first few turns are on hard snow. A little lower and we have powder to play in. Amazing to ski with everything below and nothing above.
Seracs tower above us, beautiful but menacing, our snow changes from powder to smooth, refrozen silver and finally to spring snow as we approach the Grand Mulets Refuge.
Kimberly in the Powder!
Me in the powder!
Below the Mulets we rope up, keeping our skis on to enter the Junction of glaciers and cross onto the Bossons.
Below the Mulets
Traversing the Bosson glacier
Skins on, a bit of scrambling and we are on the slushy traverse below the Aiguille du Midi – not far now – two short descents, some rough loose scree scrambling and a short walk brings us stumbling up the Mid station of the Aiguille du Midi 23 hours after we passed though it on our way up.
The stumble back!
Many thanks to Glen and Kimberly Plake my intrepid ski and climbing partners on this rather special outing.
Edited by idris - 6/1/12 at 1:30pm