Saturday, April 19, 2014

Defenition of an adventure is when the outcome is uncertain

Chris & Lia and I set off from the 1st cable car at Grands Montets where we suffered a very bumpy ski down to the Argentiere glacier. We then cramponed up the 1st part of the col du Chardonnet before sticking on our skins and heading up to the Franco - Swiss frontier. We avoided the massive traffic jam by entering Switzerland by the slightly higher col. We rappelled down the slope and then skied over to the Saleina Hut which was guarded over the Easter week, seemingly for us!
After a very pleasant evening the next morning we set off at 6.30 am . The view back to the hut was exceptional
Our plan was to traverse to La Fouly via the 3 cols route - probably the best traverse in the Mt Blanc range. The issue was the slopes were very icy and the key traverse could only be done by taking the skis off and climbing above some intimidating cliffs before we arrived at the col des Planereuses
We passed the three cols in very clear but very windy conditions before finally making the very long glacier de la Neuve [and despite the lack of snow for weeks] we skied to with in 10 minutes walk of the Village and our wonderful hotel.
The hotel was good enough to give us breakfast at 6.00am and we were away up to the Col de Ferret.
At the col it was time to ski into our 3rd country- Italy and down the long, beautiful Val Ferret. The start of the descent is steep and a lot of care is needed ,then as it flattens out a lot of pushing and skating is required.
Fortunately the snow remained hard and our task was easier than it could have been. We eventually arrived at the road to see the 1st person we had seen all day. He was eating a cream doughnut and drinking a beer which struck me as an odd combination. We asked him if we could get a taxi and his answer was an emphatic no! The reason was the road had been closed for a week. He'd been stuck there [eating doughnuts] and was excited because a helicopter was coming to get him later that day. It all seemed a bit apocalyptic to us.
We decided to walk the 3km to the village not really knowing what to expect. Originally our intention had been to ride the cable car and finish our trip by skiing back into Chamonix via the Vallee Blanche and thus finish our circular trip. What happened was very different. We arrived in La Palud to find the cable car shut. In fact everything was shut- the whole village had been evacuated because of an imminent land slide. We walked into the police road block and some very excited Carabinieri and general Italian chaos which only seems to happen in this wonderful country.
It took them a while to decide what to do with us. Eventually and not before the Press had got involved[see1st photo] we were bundled into a Police van and dumped at the Mt Blanc Tunnel entrance. This turned out to be a very difficult place to leave from without a car and there was no bus allowed to stop. By chance I got into conversation with the Mt Blanc Tunnel Press Officer the charming Erika Noro. She agreed to take us through the tunnel probably to get us out her country.

The next day Lia's feet were shot so Chris and I decided to give our selves a "beasting" by climbing the Aiguille d'Argentiere from the 1st Grands Montets cable car. It is a huge day with over 1300 meters vertical ascent.
Off course this means lots of good skiing on the way down all the way to Logan all 2100 vertical meteres of it. I was pretty tired after this big day and misjudged how hot it was and suffered a bit from sun stoke.

Yet being too hot was not the problem for our final day- The weather was not conducive to skiing and after all it was difficult to see how we could better the previous 4 days , so we went rock climbing on the long route the voie Caline which arrives at the buvet of les Mottets where after the weather finally changed and it snowed on us...

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