The Grand St Bernard Monastry is an extrordinary place to visit, especially in the winter when it is completely cut off, and the only way to get there is on foot or on skis.
Part of the attraction is that you are tracing the foot steps of history. Not only are you following in the Elephant foot prints of Hannibal, Napolean's 40,000 strong army, countless pilgrims making their way to Rome, but also Charles Dickens. It is his visit to the Monastery that inspired the passge in Little Doritt considered one of his finest works :
"Seen from these solitudes, and from the Pass of the Great Saint Bernard, which was one of them, the ascending Night came up the mountain like a rising water. When it at last rose to the walls of the convent of the Great Saint Bernard, it was as if that weather-beaten structure were another Ark, and floated on the shadowy waves.Darkness, outstripping some visitors on mules, had risen thus to the rough convent walls, when those travellers were yet climbing the mountain."
Despite there not being any new snow for a month - the snow cover was good.
Rachel, Simon, Charles and I drove around from Chamonix on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and parked at the sadly defunct Super St Bernard Ski lift. This was to be Rachel's first ever ski-tour and there is probably no better place to start.
We headed up the snow covered road stopping after an hour for a picnic.
|Picnic in the sun .|
Next we passed through the "Comb des Morts" [not very threatening at the time]
|Combs des Morts|
and arrived at he Monastery.
We dumped some of our excess equipment and then headed out for some further ski touring practice.
The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the Monastery and soaking up the history.
Breakfast was a 8.00 and we were away by 9.00am. Our goal was to climb Mt Fourchon the classic ascent from the Monastery.
|The summer road avalanche gallery.|
Mt Fourchon is 2901meters . It is a small summit which involes a short scramble to get to its top.
|arriving on the summit.|
I have climbed this mountain countless times - but I have never had a better view from the summit as this.
|Mt Blanc & Grandes Jorrasse|
We were even able to have our lunch just below the summit.
The ski back was surprisingly good. The snow had softened up a little allowing for some well earned turns.
We reversed our route following the road used in the opening scene of the iconic "Italain Job"https://youtu.be/rKhszhzn20I
Then it was back through Customs
|Swiss Customs post.|
where enjoyed a second night at the Monastery.
On our final day we climbed upto the col du Barasson, where once again we were rewarded with impressive views right across northern Italy .
We were able to ski all the way back to the car to end a highly successful three day trip.
|There is an I carved on the other side.|