Saturday, September 26, 2020

A Mountaineering summer like no other draws to a close.

Strange Times...

The dates have been in the diary well before the word Covid had been heard of. Now that Catherine Lewis and `I  were due to meet  the weather forecast was terrible. What were we going to do? Should we postpone?  This is not an unusual dilemma to have to deal with.  

As the date approached the weather forecast changed a bit- it improved and so we were able to start.  

Although Cathereine had climbed Mt Blanc with me a couple of years ago and we had skied toured a lot together she had never done any technical climbing and was keen to see what it was all about.

At this time of year most of the lifts are closed , but there are many options for some good climbing.  We headed to the Via Corda - a long yet simple climb which is ideal for getting to grips with the basic concepts of rock climbing.

Catherine climbing the Via Corda

Any plan these days tends to be the wrong plan - Any idea of climbing on the Italian side of Mt Blanc was kiboshed by the Italian quarantine regulations , which overnight brought in rules saying anyone travelling from France to Italy had to be in possession of certificate stating they didn't have Covid.

Instead we headed for Switzerland and climbed the Aiguille du Van , high above the Barrage d'Emosson.  

Aiguille du Van is on the left.

This is a dramatic looking peak, yet is relatively simple to climb.  Once on the summit the views are wonderful.

Mt Blanc 

The summit of the Aiguille du Van

On our third day together we were joined by Catherine's great friend Lucy Kate. 
Lucy-Kate & Catherine.

 The weather forecast was chalenging.  We needed something we could climb in any weather and therefore choose to return to the Barrage and this time climb the Bel-Oiseaux a mountain on the opposite side of the lake which is accessed by walking through a series of long dark damp  tunnels  - In the end we were lucky, we stayed dry and were treated to summit views.
Looking towards the Argentiere glacier.

Walking back down from theBel-Oiseaux.

We managed to get back down with only a few spots of rain, which was good considering the forecast had been a write-off just before we met.  Yet finally the weather did break and it snowed and rained hard that evening plastering the mountains white.
Aiguille Dru plastered in fresh snow.

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