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2006 01 20 Snowshoe Massif Mt Blanc

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I would lie to you if I were to tell you that our plan was to snowshoe down the Mer de Glace.

So, Camilo and I, we left early Friday with the intention of doing something cool at Chamonix, even if it had dump a bunch of snow recently (40-60cm few days before). Among the plans was maybe to do the Mallory up the aiguille de midi. We arrive at Chamonix and stock up on supplies at the local supermarket. Camilo bumps into Octavio, and argentin who he had met last year. We share with him our plans, he says "why aren't you guys skiing?" (that's another story). He tells us, there is a lot of snow up there, but if you want you can check it out, do something else like the Arête Cosmique, you would spend 2 days just getting to the base of the Mallory (and he would have been right).

So we head up the trail with our headlamps (1030m) (helas, the good old days). We find and lose the trail a couple of times and break a some trail (not so deep yet). At about 11pm (1730m), I say, I am hungry, let's bivy here.

Saturday morning, we wake up a little later than expected but that is fine, we are here to enjoy the mountains. We continue heading up to the first téléférique station (aiguille du Plan, 2310m). Now the trail starts getting deeper and deeper, we plough through (well mostly Camilo :)...lots of snow...we see skiers having a blast skiing down. We continue up. We finally make it to the "gare", lots of work. But heck we saved the téléférique ticket!. We take the téléférique up to aiguille de midi (after solving a little problem, as you can't buy a ticket at the intermediate station... no one goes up there by foot).

The Aiguille de Midi (3800m) is pretty cool, the views are gorgeous and you can understand why tourist go up there for a couple of hours and then take the tramway down... We continue on to the Abri Simond (3600m, winter refuge). We get there and there are about 8 people, of whom I know Julien (from ITA grenoble). There we talk about plans etc. We are thinking of doing the arêtes cosmisques Sunday morning. We have our feast and go to sleep.

Sunday morning we awoke to ferocious winds!. There I even heard that the téléférique might be closed and that people sent SMS text messages to friends to find out. I notice that I have the phone number for the téléférique and call myself. The message is: "Yeah, lots of wind, téléférique closed. Forecast for tomorrow, about the same". Great news! not!. Ok rapidly, we have a meeting among the 8 people in the refuge (5 with snowshoes and 3 with skis), my hardcore french friends were out climbing...The Dutch guys are going down the Mer de Glace (like 12km+)... So after some discussion with Camilo, we decide to follow suit, or like we say in alpinism, join forces :). There is no point in spending another night in the refuge to find out that the téléférique would be close and that there would be lots of wind the next day (which was the case).

Going down the Mer de Glace is super cool, plus with snowshoes you really absorb in the scenery (not to say, that the next time I do it, I hope to do it in skis). The mountains, the space, the seracs, all is beautiful. After 4 hours, we arrive at the gondola (1820m?) ( that would take us to the train station of Montvers (1913m), but unfortunately it was closed too. Other people were in the same prerogative. We join forces yet again to break the trail up to the train station (knee deep snow). We are finally there, and we come back home. (were my friends were waiting for me with a raclette, I love my friends, life is good).

Photos: H=Hector, C=Camilo.

Summary:

  • Friday 20/1: 680m, 3h (parking to bivouak)
  • Saturday 21/1: 580m/4h (to gare aiguille du plan, deep snow) + 60m/1h (to refuge from aiguille de midi)
  • Sunday 22/1: +190m/-1920m/4h (refuge to base of gondola) and +80m/20min (base of gondola to gare montvers)


Le Mont-Blanc, ça c'est de la haute montagne !! Même pour se balader, quelle beauté ! Par contre, il ne faut pas oublier que le téléphérique donne accès à un domaine de haute montagne, en 25 minutes on est à 3795m, l'air est moins dense, et la respiration est difficile, il faut savoir s'acclimater et avancer progressivement dans la difficulté, et apprendre, pour arriver au bout de ses rêves alpinistiques !
Alex (03/29/2006)



 

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