Wednesday, 10 June 2009
It seems to have been a very, very long time coming, but the moment has finally arrived - I have packed and tomorrow will fly to Geneva. I am starting to get excited, but it will truly set in once we get off the bus in Chamonix.
Up until last Wednesday, conditions on the mountain have been absolutely perfect. I have flown over Mont Blanc 4 times in the last 6 weeks (work is taking me to Italy a lot) and on the first 3 times I have had perfect views of the summit. The last time however, the weather had changed and the entire Alpine range was smothered with thick, dense cloud. Strong winds and up to 20cm of snow have fallen, meaning our route choice looked bad news. Karl phoned the Cosmique hut yesterday and they confirmed that they did not expect anyone to be going from their side this weekend. Route abandoned.
So a reversion to Plan B has been forced upon us. The Tete Rousse hut is on the north West flank of the peak and we will make our summit attempt from there, via the Dome du Gouter. The weather looks very settled over the weekend, so we will take the cable car and trudge up to the hut on Friday, take a very early start on Saturday, looking to summit at 7 or 8 in the morning, and then return to the hut or (if we are moving well) all the way back the valley.
The risk with this route is a thing called the Grand Couloir, a rather dangerous gulley around 50m wide that is the scene of persistent and random rockfall. However, we will be crossing this at around 2am, when it will be frozen and the risk of things coming down on us is vastly reduced. On return, we will either wait until later in the day to cross or pop across when it is otherwise quiet.
A lung- and leg-bursting day ahead of us, so for now I shall eat my pasta, go over the kit list again, visualise success and concentrate. Maybe on Sunday I'll take the time to enjoy it but now is not the time. Mountains deserve respect and this one has my undivided attention...