My main objectives for this summer have mostly been bigger longer days out in the mountains. I think that's my favorite style for out here. Mainly cause I just like being in the mountains but moving in good style. Not Michael Jackson style, but light and fast. I've not got a lot of things done this summer that I would have like to have done, but there's still time. So on Friday I went for a little walk...
|Gear for the route|
I was keen to link up the Frendo spur on the North face of the Midi with Mont Blanc via the 3 Monts route. I left Chamonix at around 1am. This would allow me to get up to the midi early enough so that the snow wouldn't be too soft for going up the 3 Monts. Walking up from town to the mid station was actually probably the scariest part of the day. Walking through the wood s at night and getting spider webs in the face all the time... Did get a fright when some creature sneaked up on me, and all I could see were these eyes illuminated from my torch. I reached the base of the route at around 4.30am. There were about 4 other climbers who were at the start as well, which sucked in a way as this meant I had to be really careful not to knock any rocks off above them, which could easily happen on the lower parts of the route.
|Almost like a big spooky castle in the early hours.|
|Other climbers approaching the base of the Frendo.|
Whilst climbing the lower parts in the dark following my dot of light, I managed to climb up into the wrong area a few times. So lost a bit of time on the lower half of the route. You'd think this was my first time on the route getting, getting lost, but It was my 4th!! Also lost a bit of time trying to get an in-situ wire out of a crack... well I couldn't just climb past it, it would be on my mind all day if I hadn't tried to retrieve it! I was soon back on track and made my way to the upper rock sections. There is some fantastic rock climbing on this part. Every time I have climbed this route I've gone so many different ways, but now I have it dialled!
|Half way up the Frendo.|
Fantastic golden rays of morning light were on the upper snow crest whilst I was climbing up. They just make everything feel so much more... awesome! The upper part was in ok condition, as the freeze thaw cycle had formed this chewy water ice that every climber adores. But I wouldn't like to have been on it much later when the cheweyness melts away and your left with some glacier black ice. I didn't want to rush up the Frendo and trash myself for the rest of the day as I still had a long way to go.. but reached the top at 8.30, and felt ok to carry on.
|My wee pecker!|
I could now put away my 2nd axe away and bring out my trusty walking pole. It was now time to get the head down. I would have loved to motor my way up to Mt Blanc but I hadn't been up high for over 2 weeks so I knew things would be slow. Out came the i-pod which would allow the brain to focus on something else rather than the tiredness I'd soon be feeling. One of my main focuses for the day was to stay hydrated, so to make sure I could get water I took up my Jetboil with me to make water whenever I needed it. Just before the top of the Tacul I got it out and filled up my bladder.
|Topped out of the Frendo.|
|Looking back to the Midi, and down to Chamonix.|
I didn't have to worry about the soft snow at all. There was a really cold wind that kept the temps down, which was great for the snow but meant you had to cover your face up and wear the insulation layer whilst walking. After Mt Maudit I really felt the altitude getting to me. So with this and the cold wind I was going pretty slow. This wasn't too bad as I knew this was just going to be a long day no matter what so I may as well take my time and not get too trashed. The last slope up to the summit of the Blanc was really slow going. At the top I just slumped on the Italian side to get a break from the wind. It took me just over 4 hours to do the 3 monts.
|Just before the Maudit slopes.|
|Not long to go... or so I thought!|
|Clouds coming my way from Italy.|
|Got a swift move on when seen the clouds building up below the Gouter.|
Wasn't really any summit celebration, especially with these big black clouds building all around! Made my way down the normal route, but after a while I had to stop for another water break. Then I just continuously moved all the way down to the Tete rousse hut. Where I took the harness and helmet off. I stupidly tried to rush down the next section to the Nid Agile, but ended up hurting my knees and feet. So learnt a wee lesson there. I wanted to walk all the way down to Les Houches, where I live. However my legs, knees, and feet were so sore that I got the train all the way down to Le Fayet, where Dawn and Graham picked me up and drove me home for a quick clothes change and then into town for a pint of Guinness and a burger!
It was a fantastic day out. One of the longest I've had out for a while. That's route off the list let's see which one is next...