Monday, October 09, 2017

Alpine climbing season ends for 2017

David Ford managed to carve out three days to come and join me and climb in the Chamonix area. In my view early October can be one of the best times to be here. It is much quieter, colder, which makes it safer because the mountains are less likely to fall apart and the autumn colours add a layer of beauty to the alpine scene. There is a price to pay in that a lot of the infrastructure is also closed interms of cables cars and mountain huts and therefore the choice of where to climb is more limited. Yet with local knowledge and a certain flexibility there are many places to go climbing which are magnificent. 4th October With a stellar forecast we set off for Switzerland and drove up to the Emosson Dam . We climbed the Aiguille Van. This is an excellent straight forward climb which has a variety of scrambling and finishes on a very prominent summit with views in a 360 degree vista.
5th October. The Cosmiques Arete. Of its type , it is one of the best routes in the alps , if not the world. Fast access via the Aiguille du Midi whips you up to 3842m in no time at all. Again the problem in the summer is that the route has become untenable for the reasons just mentioned. It is a product of its own successes and there are many hours of queuing which no matter how good a climb it is , the esthetics are destroyed.
We walked onto the cable car and we were the only climbers among the tourists. At the top we gearered up , and headed down the ridge we were alone. It was all going perfectly until we caught up what appeared to be an entire battalion of the French Alpine army. Just our luck to have chosen the same day as them to do this iconic climb.
I did however manage to persuade the officers in charge of each group [ fellow Mountain Guides ] that David and I could pass and overtake them . So despite the climb being busy we were not hindered and we could enjoy the perfect conditions and weather.
6th October. Well although I keep claiming the weather always is best in October , this particular day wasn't one of them. At least in the morning. Nevertheless the afternoon was good and we enjoyed some excellent rock climbing at the ever reliable Les Gaillands crag .

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