Climbing Mont Blanc….

mont blanc summitJust a quick update on the previous blog post….

We reached the summit of Mont Blanc yesterday morning with Fabio Levi from Dream Guides leading the way. (Fabio also guided Dwain Chambers, Richard Branson and Princess Beatrice up Mont Blanc for their various charity challenges) I surprised myself as I didn’t realise how emotional I’d feel once we’d got there. I certainly had a tear in my eye!

It really was very hard work. After waking (although I barely slept) at 1.45 am and walking slowly up very steep hump after hump to the final ridge that leads to the summit. Anyone who says Mont Blanc is a walk in the (snowy) park is being rather misleading. ( Unless they are a member of the Jornet family.) It took us about 3.5 hours from the Gouter hut to the summit and we were back at the hut at about 8.30am- I’m usually only getting up at this hour!..But we were welcomed with the most amazing sunrise just as we made it to the highest point in Western Europe…

Interestingly, Emily ( who was also on the course) had never done any Alpinsim before- however she is fit and ‘outdoorsy’ – and a teacher, so always on her feet. I really believe this is the key for Mont Blanc. OK, you can do it as a beginner, but not if you are unused to being on your feet for hours and you need to have the mental strength to just keep going. I do think that it will probably be a less stressful experience and more fun if you do know how to put a crampon on and use an ice axe etc- but that’s why this course is good as it will give you a chance to have a go at all this before you try Mont Blanc itself- and I certainly know a few people here in Chamonix who have talked about attempting it without every having done any kind of mountaineering or rock climbing or even much hiking!

Another interesting fact: the first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc was on 8 August 1786 by Jacques Balmat and the doctor Michel Paccard. This climb, traditionally marks the start of modern mountaineering…..

So, I’m now hoping that a week of being on my feet and at high altitude will stand me in good stead for my next challenge at the end of this month……

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It’s been a gloomy old summer overall here in Chamonix and I feel I’ve barely been up the mountain at all this year compared to this time last year.  I can’t blame this just on the rain, but I’ll write more on this in a separate post. So when Dream Guides offered me the chance to join their Climb Mont Blanc Week I jumped at the chance. I’ve had quite a few people talking about a*quick jaunt” up Mont Blanc, and for my opinion on this I will refer you to this article on Chamonet.

We start the week acclimatising with a walk up to the Albert 1er hut (2700m)and some crampon/ice axe instruction on the glacier. On Monday we climb the  Petit Fourche (3520m) and descend to the Trient hut (3200m,overnight). On Tuesday we climb the Aig du Tour (3540m) then descend to Chamonix.

It’s all stuff I’ve done before, so I’m happy, but it’s a great course for relative beginners to Alpinsim too – as long as you’re fit! Fingers crossed that the weather improves by Thursday as predicted – as we plan to make a 2am start to attempt Mont Blanc via the Gouter Ridge.

If successful, this will be my first ‘alpine style’ 4000m peak- I’ve also trekked to the summit of Mount Toubkal, which you can read about soon in Adventure Travel Magazine…..

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