Friday, September 04, 2015

Finest mountain view in the Alps

Getting your boots and waterproofs on in the lashing rain in a car park is something John Young is far more use to than me. He lives in Fort William and climbs on the Ben. I don't any longer.

Nevertheless this is what we found ourselves doing getting ready to go up the "hill" in Gressoney. Our plan was to head to the wonderful Gneffetti hut. [ I only came down from it a couple of days before hand]
The forecast was good for the next few days and we would attempt to climb the south ridge of Pyramid Vincent.

Sure enough the next day was fabulous and we climbed the ridge staying judiciously behind a couple of French climbers who we let break trail for us through a not in significant amount of fresh snow.We weren't quite so clever as a fellow BMG Guide Phil Dowthwaite who then followed us up. But this allowed me to take this photo:

Once on the summit the soft snow was kind to our knees and we were back in Gressoney for lunch. After the obligatory cappuccino and pannini , we headed of on our second part of our plan: To climb the east ridge of Mt Viso.

We drove down and around Turin and while climbing up to the road head passed a brilliant little hotel called La Coletta. We swung in got two rooms and mellowed out. The next day we were treated to a magnificent view of Mt Viso with a ring of cloud around its foot[more of this later.]

We passed through the village of Crissolo and then headed up the seemingly endless and often vertiginous road to finally arrive at a car park [patrolled by a Gnome] at the road head at about 2000m.

The walk to the hut is about 2.40mins. It was soon that we entered the ring of cloud I mentioned earlier. We didn't think too much of it at first, in fact a bit of cloud was welcome to keep the sun off us. However as we got higher it got thicker and by the time we arrived at the very crowded and frankly not very pleasant Quintino Sella hut, you couldn't even see your hand in front of your face.

This was a real problem for us because it had been our intention to scope out the start of the east ridge the afternoon before the climb. The mist never cleared and so we decided to activate plan B and climb the voie normal both up and down.

We awoke at 4.00 am and were on our way at about 5.00am. It was still dark but he mist had completely disappeared , which was good. The climb is very very long. At first you go down hill and pass a lake before following a rising path which eventually hits a series of chains which are there to help you climb steep ground. After an hour and a half we arrived at a col. On the far side there is a steep unpleasant descent down some ruble where you surrender 140 m of height. You then follow [what the last time I was here about 15 years ago was a glacier] but now is rubble up to a very brightly coloured bivouac hut.

From the hut we tied the rope to us and moved together over some good but simple scrambling terrain arriving on the summit in a very respectable 4.20 hours.

There is no better view from the summit of Mt Viso. From its summit you can see the entire alpine arc. From the summit of every 4000m peak in the alps you can see Mt Viso. This is what makes it so famous.

In addition it you look south you can see the Mediterranean sea.

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