Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Chestnuts Anyone?

Aiguille Dru .
This year the British Mountain Guides held their Annual General Meeting in Chamonix.  My good friend Alan Kimber, Britains longest serving active Guide attended too.  It was an opportunity to catch up and potentially enjoy a couple of days climbing together.

Alan was keen to go high in to the mountains, or find some valley based Ice Fall climbing.  Non of these options were available .  In November all the lifts and infrastructure is closed.  Neither was there any ice to climb.  We were sort of caught in the situation where it wasn't cold enough for ice climbs to form but it was too cold to rock climb but we thought we would give it a go anyway.
Alan Kimber on Tommy 6a+ Val d"Aosta

So we headed down the Aosta valley to climb the famous 15 pitch route Tommy.  Unsurprisingly we had the place to ourselves.  Getting to the foot of the route was difficult because the path had been covered by waist deep chestnut tree leaves which we had obliterated any clues to where the path might be.

Where ever there are chestnut trees  there are chestnuts and these acted like marbles under our feet.  The irony of a  potential  stupid accident involving two Mountain Guides was not lost on us.  The climb its self was fantastic. Granite slab climbing, nicely sustained [apart from the overhanging bit in the middle.] .

All was good a part from the black clouds that came rolling in.   In the summer they could be the sign of an impending rain storm.  In November they brought snow.  Not huge amounts , but still ...

We decided to bail. Several rappels put us back in the waist deep leaves.  As we slid and stumbled down the slopes we decided to "harvest" the chestnuts by stuffing them into our pockets,  After all the Christmas Markets charge an absolute fortune for them.  Back home in Chamonix we emptied our pockets in to a big bucket.

Jane , my wife had a brilliant simple recipe for them :

  • Cut the top and cross the bottoms of the Chestnuts.  Then put them in boiling water for about two minutes.  Then take them out and peel them.

  • Boil sprouts 

  • Fry bacon bits .

  • Then add the chestnuts and sprouts to the bacon and toss in the pan to let the flavours mix.

All washed down with a few bottles of rouge.

Bon Appetit .