A while ago I took part in an introductory Alpine Mountaineering course run by UCPA / Action Outdoors in Chamonix. The article on the course can now be read in Trek and Mountain magazine, and here: Alpine Skills.
Since then I’ve done a couple of alpine routes with friends and the Club Alpine France and have some plans to return to Nepal next year in a trip organised by Jagan Timilsina, our leader on the 60th anniversary Everest Base Camp trek… more on this when/if I get it organised! Needless to say…it wont be Everest!
I wrote about the alpine course in an earlier blog…. we had some interesting changes in weather… so here it is again:
The first day of the course we went rock climbing to brush up on our multi pitch skills. Having come from the UK, I assumed it would be chilly, so seriously overdressed…. It was super warm and summery:
The great conditions continued as my group climbed a multipitch route on the Aiguille Crochues. It was chilly as we left the Index lift, but soon I was dripping in sweat again as we headed up to the base of the climb…
Fortunately my course mates were Swedish and it was imperative to them to select a nice bottle of grog for the summits. And it was still warm enough to enjoy it in the sunshine at the top:
This weather continued for ‘ice school’ on the Mer de Glace, where I was in a sleeveless top until we got deeper into the glacier… But ominously, after a day of slashing ice in relatively warm conditions, it started dribbling with rain as we waited for the Montenvers train down….
Then it was time to put all we had learnt together and climb the Petite Fourches ( Little Forks) at 3520m, but in the morning when we were due to walk to the Albert premier hut it started chucking it down. However, confident in us, our guide Pierre took us up regardless and we woke up the next morning to a dusting of snow across the mountains to begin our ascent. However, the snow fell harder and harder and it became too dangerous to try to belay and rock climbing- so we climbed to the top of the Tete Blanche and retreated back to the albert Premier and then back down the valley. Yes, this is August the 31st.