With Helen earning an honest crust back in Blighty, hemi becomes demiexplorers as I take to the Alps for snowy adventures on high!
Many experts will disagree over how to prepare the body for an expedition into the high alps, altitude training, finger boarding, watching Touching the Void, but for our resident expert, it’s very simple: eat twice as much as normal; and once the six of us had settled into our one-bed apartment, we set about our training with great gusto. A healthy serving of porridge cooked to nobody’s liking, followed by burgers and hotdogs at some of the myriad purveyors in Cham central and heaps of nachos, curry and falafel, all critiqued by our panel of wanna-be chefs, would fuel our forthcoming adventures. During the fleeting moments between meals, we grabbed in some other essential training.
With novice alpinists Glenn and Mick kitted out in boots that first saw action when Mont Blanc was conquered, we handed over €31.50 for the 20 minute venicular train to the Mer de Glace glacier. Here we were to put into action our crevasse rescue (which we had practiced out of the window of our second story apartment the night before) but first we had to descend the 100 metres of vertigo inducing ladders under race conditions. Once on the ice we all took the chance to jump into a 4 metre hole and get pulled out by our comrades. With that successfully completed we attempted to reinact the “prussac challenge” of years past, and I was first into the hole. The aim was to get out by pulling yourself up on two ropes, but once again my flailing limbs got me nowhere, and with no crampons on, I was stuck! Out came the pullies again, and out I was dragged by the gang, scraping over every icy rut and ridge in the process.A day of conventional rock climbing to hone our rope work and we were ready to head up to the Premier Albert hut for a two day expedition. On previous trips we had stayed in the Albert as it transitioned from classic mountaineers refuge to day tripping tourist hot spot, and we had been shunted to a small stainless steel room to keep us away from the families that later kept us awake all night. This time we had a much better time of it, a three course meal, a quiet night in a dorm to ourselves and a 4 am breakfast to get us going in the morning. A mere four hours later via the Col Superieur Mick, Glenn and myself were battling with other mountaineers for the top spot on the Aiguille du Tour at 3542 metres high. We then made our way over the vast Plateau du Trient to Switzerland and waited for Pinto and Christina at the Trient Cabane, with Mick celebrating on the beers and me doing my best to avoid paying €10 for a 1.5 litre bottle of water. Not too long after our discussions had turned to how long we should wait before alerting the insurance companies to Pinto and Christine’s disappearance, two dots emerged on the horizon and an hour later we were reunited with Team Deux with stories of heart stopping endeavour upon the tricky Table Couloir! The next morning we swapped the frosty reception of the Trient Cabane for the chilly 4 am air and struck a path to the Tête Blanche. Roped up in different groups and with crevasse investigations completed with varying levels of consent, we made up the north west ridge and mounted the top at 3420 metres. We skipped and bum slid our way down to Chamonix where we celebrated our achievements with a hot dog and double helpings of chilli – the training never stops!
To find out more stories of our adventure that are funnier than a Bobby Davro Box Set, head to tomjarvisuk.wordpress.com