Monday, January 15, 2018

A night in the Grand St Bernard Monastery

I left Chamonix at 9.00am with the intention of meeting Laura and Marco on the road to Gd St Bernard at about 10.00am. I drove up to the Swiss/French boarder at Chatelard and the conversation with the Garde-Frontier Officer went something like this:
Officer - "Where are you going?"
Me - "Gd St Bernard Monastery."
Officer- "The col is closed."
Me - "I know , Im going to go on skis"
Officer - "The col is closed"
Me - " I know, Im a Mountain Guide and I am going to go on skis"
Officer - "The col is closed."
The conclusion, I was rapidly coming to, was that I was speaking to a fucking idiot. Then the Officer smirked and decided to be a little less monosyllabic and said the Col du Forclaz was closed by a massive rock fall , which had just happened at 6.00am. [This is the final col on the road between Chamonix and Martigny.]
There was no practical way by road, so I dumped the car and took the train to Martigny which I would concede is more ecological but I am going to need incentivizing a little more than paying 40chf for the train. Basically 1chf/minute. Still needs must. Marco and Laura picked me up at Martigny station and we drove to the road head at the now defunct Super St Bernard Ski station. We stuck our skins on and headed up the track. The weather was beautiful , but like so often in this area it was windy and cold. We stopped for a picnic lunch in one of the emergency shelters.
After our picnic the temperature had dropped further and I was struggling to keep warm despite skinning up hill. Yet when we arrived at Monastery and went slightly over the col there was suddenly no wind and beautiful snow.
We headed off above the Monastery so that we might get the chance to ski the great snow.
The snow did not disappoint.
We enjoyed a very relaxed evening consuming some of the local Pinot Noir. The next day we headed out and skied across the border and into Italy. Our goal for the day was to climb Mt Fouchon. The conditions were good ,
bordering on excellent. We made the summit in about two and half hours. We then skied back more or less the same way. The snow was very good and the quality of the skiing was as good as I have had in this area. We passed the Monastery and then skied back to the car where Marco and Laura stuck me back on the train to France.

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