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Author Topic: Mont Blanc  (Read 30368 times)

Daisy

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Re: Mont Blanc
« Reply #20 on: Jul 18 2005, 15:56 »

Well hello there! yes Sheila sorry DAISY did manage to reach the summit of Mt Blanc last Wednesday morning at 8:20am after a string of hilarious (disastrous?) events.
We were SO well organised to start off! We had bought all our food in advance and lovingly packed it all neatly in zip lock bags. We had the best of sleeping bags and warm gear, stoves, pots, cups everything! in fact, the trek to the Tete Rousse hut was a bit of a nightmare with the weight of all our gear! complete madness. Anyway, we arrived at the Tete Rousse only to discover that there are the most comfortable of beds and beautiful meals to be had. Out of stubbornness we cooked our boil in the bag meals on a tiny gas stove anyway and watched everyone else tuck into what appeared to be three course meals accompanied by beer and wine  :(

We couldn't get a place in the Gouter Hut at all, completely booked out so we thought we could stay at the Tete Rousse and summit from there with an acclimatisation walk to the Gouter Hut in between. I now understand why the owner of the TR hut was laughing when I told him of our plans! Anyway, the next day we packed up very light, food, sleeping bags, extra warm clothes etc left behind at the TR hut. We crossed the infamous Grand Couloir which I actually found ok despite what we'd read about it. This lead on to the 'rocky scramble' or so it's called to the Gouter hut. I actually hated this part. It was a lot longer and steeper than I'd expected and very slippy with icy, snowy patches here and there. There were cables fixed on the dangerous parts that you could clip into but these seemed to be coming loose where the bolts were fixed into the rocks. Crowds of climbers were both heading up and down and there was a lot of waiting around and avoiding inconsiderate climbers - especially those who drop their ice axe on you from above and don't apologise! So 4 and a half hours later and with the cloud thick around us we arrived at the Gouter hut. "Change of plan guys!" There was no way we could go back down to the Tete Rousse at this stage. We were stuck here for the night!
After lots of pleading and begging with the hut owner we were allowed to stay - bed less of course! and all we could think about was our food and lovely warm gear and sleeping bags down below. My usual altitude headache and sickness set in all of a sudden and I doubted I'd be able to go on at all. Tears were coming out my eyes with the pain and nausea and I lay my head on the crowed table and tried to ignore all the sweaty socks left drying out on the table and the nearby Spanish team tucking hungrily into runny omelettes.
After about an hour and several painkillers I was feeling better. We couldn't move from the table in case our places were taken but we were hunted out at dinner time and had to stand outside in the cold.
Finally, 8pm was lights out. This was by far the most insane night I have ever had. There must have been 70 people in the room. Many had sleeping bags and mats but of course we didn't. We begged for food and managed to get some biscuits and water for a mere 50 euro!
I lay on the stool to sleep and some of the lads lay on the table, some were under the table. People were everywhere! Of course we didn't sleep a wink but the whole situation was very entertaining! At 1am shivering with the cold everyone began to stir. At 2am we got some stale bread and hot chocolate, strapped on our crampons and headed out into the night. It was a really beautiful warm night. The trail of head torches ahead of us and the lights from Chamonix below was a really magical sight.
Approaching the Vallot hut we all started to feel cold and headaches began to set in. The Bosses ridge was just as scary as we'd heard. It wasn't just the fact that it was steep and narrow with a sheer drop on either side it was more the trail of people coming down that scared us. There was no where to go! one frightened woman actually grabbed on to my leg as she was passing! I was saying let go let go but she was clinging on for dear life! At this stage we were so unbelievably cold we just wanted to get to the summit so that we could get down as quickly as possible. We finally reached the summit at 8:20am with frozen fingers and toes. We took three summit pictures and then my camera batteries died. We made our way down the mountain as quickly as we could so that we could warm up. At the Vallot hut altitude sickness (or something hit me again). I was so ill, kneeling down on the snow with my head pounding. It was a tough slog back to the Gouter hut. They gave us some plain spaghetti and then we headed all the way back down to Les Houches, back to civilisation. We got there at 8pm dreaming about warm showers and clean clothes only to discover that our hotel was completely locked up with all our stuff inside!
So we were left with only one choice....to stay in our dirty clothes and plastic boots and have some beers in La Christiana.... all in all a great trip!  ;D
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“Today, it is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, and not for what he may find.”
                        Sir Edmund Hillary

Daisy

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Re: Mont Blanc
« Reply #21 on: Jul 18 2005, 15:59 »

More pics!
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“Today, it is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, and not for what he may find.”
                        Sir Edmund Hillary

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Re: Mont Blanc
« Reply #22 on: Jul 19 2005, 03:03 »

 ;D
congratulations! Thanks for the great report and pix! Now your friends will know that a guide is not just for technical climbing, but also for hut information and reservation!

Actually the 2nd time I slept in the Gouter hut, I had reservations, but so many people arrived unannounced that we got 1.5 beds for every 2 reservations!

It's incredible crowded on Mt Blanc in high season, but it is still a pretty mountain with great routes and views.

Thanks again, what are the next plans?
-H
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"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Mary Clare

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Re: Mont Blanc
« Reply #23 on: Jul 20 2005, 01:07 »

Hi Daisy

I just wanted to let you know that I truly appreciate reading about your mountaining "adventures".  I also read the posting on your attempt of Aconcagua.  I hope you will go back and make the summit one day.

You have a GREAT attitude and that along with your obvious skills will get you far in your climbing endeavors.  Thank you for your stories and pics.  You are very inspiring and you are helping me to want to start climbing high altitude mountains again.  At present time, I am a "hiker".

I wish you all the best!!!
mc
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Daisy

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Re: Mont Blanc
« Reply #24 on: Jul 20 2005, 15:12 »

Hi Mary Clare,

Thank you so much for your lovely message! I decided Mt Blanc would be my last test to see how I got on at altitude. I have always suffered badly and this time was no better so I swore I would never, ever EVER again go to high altitude!

Of course, as soon as I got down to sea level and was having a nice cold beer with a South African team I knew I couldn't give it up. Their guide Sean was joking that he gave up mountaineering 6 years ago yet there he was, still climbing. He said when it's in the blood it's in the blood and there's nothing you can do about it ;)

Harry,
As for what's next...? the lads on my team are talking about the Matterhorn. I'm not too sure yet but it will possibly be Russia for me. Time to start scraping together the pennies again!

Two more pics attached..
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“Today, it is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, and not for what he may find.”
                        Sir Edmund Hillary

Tony J

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Re: Mont Blanc
« Reply #25 on: Jul 25 2005, 20:29 »

Congrats Daisy!  :)

I was up there myself just a few days later, on Sunday 17th, summiting at the unusual time of 1.15pm. We did the Three Monts route, supposed to stay the previous night at the Refuge des Cosmiques but couldn't get up there because of high winds. So we took the first cablecar up to the Aiguille du Midi (about 6.30am) and went straight for the summit. There were quite a few people heading up, but most turned back before the top, so we had the summit to ourselves.
It was quite windy up there though, so we didn't hang around - a group hug and a few pictures later we were on our way back down to the hut for dinner and some well-deserved beers.

A very enjoyable day, and quite straightforward apart from the steep section on Mont Maudit (I'm an atheist but I thanked God for that fixed rope ;D)

This was my 2nd high altitude mountain (after Kilimanjaro 2 years ago), and now I think I'm hooked. Looking at Aconcagua next, time and money permitting...

Tony.
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"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves" (Sir Edmund Hillary)
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