After a stop for coffee and pain au chocolade, we headed to the Aguille du Midi lift and caught the first one. The breathtaking scenery at the top never ceases to amaze me.
We climbed to the top deck to enjoy the view and take some photos, then headed out down the perilous skier's exit. I hung onto the rope and walked down, but put my crampons on when the rope ended. One slip there would result in a 1000m plunge.
We skied down the Glacier du Geant past the Refuge de Cosmique down past the impressive but dangerous Pyramid du Tacul (ice and rock fall zone). We then skied up with a contingent of French army soldiers who were out on training. Our route took us through some well filled in crevasse zones then a long ski to the Col d'Entreves.
The route goes up between the impressive Aig. de Toule on the left and La Tour Ronde on the right.
The view from the top is spectacular, one of the best I have seen in the European Alps. You look down to Courmayeur in Italy far, and down in the valley below and across the Haute Route towards Monte Rosa and Zermatt. The Italian alps spread out to the south and the Grand Paradiso is out to the West but is hard to identify.
One of the soldiers had a bottle of champagne for his birthday so we shared a swig. Playful Choucas scrounged around for some food. After lunch I walked to the Freshfield Col for amazing views across the Glacier de la Brenva to the eastern face of Mont Blanc. A Finish couple who were there said that some of those extreme lines had been skied, but only 10 times or less.
The hanging glaciers were huge and the main glacier very crevassed, it looks like a no go zone. There is no easy descent from either the Col d'Entreve or the Col Freshfield.
Simon then arrived and had lunch, then we skied down. It was a good run with some soft snow, down past the entry route to the Cirque Maudit, which would also be a nice tour. Simon headed to the north side of the glacier while I followed the ski tracks down on the south side and started skiing back up.
Three Austrians we had met in the lift and while skiing the Col du Chardonnet stopped to say hello on their way down the Vallee Blanche. I was able to ski up for quite a while without skins which was nice. Its a long way up though. When the Refute des Cosmiques came into view it was still a long way to go. I was concentrating on keeping moving and staying aerobic and made it to the hut with a last push up the small hill it is perched on.
It was a hard but rewarding 14km day - here is my GPS log.
A can of coke was went down very nicely. I got it for free as I has brought the wardens a copy of Le Dauphine newspaper. Its always good to ask hut wardens if they want you to bring anything when you telephone to make a booking.
I chatted to Abib Bocresion, a Londoner climbing in the area, and his guide Nils from Martigny. It was nice to rest up in the hut and I kept an eye on Simon's progress up the glacier.
Dinner was on at 6:45 - the wardens kept some warm for Simon who arrived at about 7.
The hut was not crowded so we had a relaxing time. Its a lovely hut and a great location.
|A pooped pup!|
|Abib and Nils in the Refuge du Cosmiques|