Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I call him the "Alpine Metronome." The climber with the perfect alpine pace.

Peter Little approaching the summit of the Pigne de la Lé
Nearly thirty years of climbing together in Wales, Scotland the Lakes, the Peak District and of course the Alps, Peter Little has pretty much climbed all the seminal peaks as well as many of the iconic alpine traverses. His CV of big mountain routes and mix of alpine rock climbs  would be the envy of many aspiring mountaineers.

Nowadays there is more  a sense  just getting into  remote beautiful areas  off the Alps.  Esthetics are everything.  Just being  off the beaten track and soaking it all up.

On our first day together we headed up the Montenvers Railway and rock climbed on the spectacular slabs above what us to be the Mer de Glacé.

Montenvers Slabs

One of the key challenges climbing with Peter is too find somewhere he hasn’t been before.  Such a place did exist- La Cabane de Moiry. It is an area that offers lots of potential on snow covered peaks without the associated grief of flogging up a bigger objective. Mind you there is so much snow still lingering that what we did climb was hard work putting the track in.

On our  second morning we drove from  Chamonix over to Martigny in Switzerland  where we decided to break the journey by climbing the first section of the Farinet Via Ferrata which is situated near the thermal baths at Saillon. The route is conveniently  divided into three sections with opt-out exits as the way gets progressively  more difficult and challenging. So much so there is a sign on the final section with a revolving number that can be set to the current amount of rescues for the given season. We decided not to see if we could add to the total.
Via Ferratta
All was fine as we followed the beautiful gorge with its impressive pulsating  waterfall beside us.  The issue was that after we found the exit, the path back to the car was not obvious, well not obvious to Peter and I.  We managed to get lost in the "Vignettes."  This is a wine growing area of Switzerland which supports some of its finest wines , being caught thrashing through the plants would have meant facing the  "firing- squad."
The great escape.
Safely skulking  back at the car without being caught, we then continued up to the road-head at the end of the Lac Moiry which is at the grand height of 2300m.  From there the walk to the Cabane is about an hour and a half, mind you there was still a lot of snow on the paths which made certain bits slower as sometimes we sank up to our waists in deep mushy snow.

The Moiry refuge is  civilized :  Afternoon Tea is served , then you can take a shower before a very competent dinner.

The next day we climbed the Dent Rosse.  We followed two of my colleagues Terry Ralph and Mark Charlton's groups.  They were doing a very fine job of breaking trail.  Or Mark and Terry had set up there clients to do so - telling them that it is an essential part of their Alpine apprenticeship.  [Which of course it is] Nevertheless we were grateful and when we even offered to have a go out front they insisted on going first.  Frankly there was so much deep snow that we would not have been able to progress with out them.
Dent de Rosse

 On our fourth day together Peter and I climbed the Aiguille de la Lé by its west ridge.  PD.  This is an excellent route which is relatively short but puts you on top of a mountain with fabulous views of many of the Valais grandest peaks like the Weisshorn, Bishorn, Dent Blanche , Zinalrotehorn and of course the Matterhorn [which Peter reminded me we had climbed well over 20 years ago.]
Summit view from Pigne de Lé looking towards the Dent Blanche with the Matterhorn to its left.

The generous snow cover meant that the descent back towards the cabane was quick and we were back in just over an hour from the summit.  We collected our extra stuff and headed down the path back to the car, just as it started to rain heavily.

On our final day the weather was indifferent and we contented ourselves with some valley based rock climbing before Peter's taxi collected him for his trip back to Geneva airport.

No comments: