Friday, June 10, 2011

2005 July France

Chamonix – Mont Blanc
I came back to Chamonix next year with the same car but this time with different people, Magda and Tomek. Tomek is called ‘Maly’ (small).  The summer was really great and we had very hot days and warm nights. This time we decided to go through Germany to Munich, Liechtenstein and Switzerland where we had a break in Spiez. 

To Chamonix we arrive in the evening and we found a place to sleep. We checked the weather forecast so it was why firstly, we visited new places and then arrived to Chamonix. 

After the first night in the tent we parked our car near the ‘Tram du Mont Blanc’ station and prepared our equipment to our trip.

The First Day
It was about 800 meters above the sea level Tram station in St Gervais Les Bains. We decided to use the tram and get to the highest station which is ‘Nid d’Aigle ‘ on 2380 meters above the sea level. 

The first tram was about 8 am and the route was really colorful. We enjoyed this journey because the tram didn’t go really fast. The view was incredible and the tram slowly, slowly proceeded to the last stop. Of course, we decided to climb this day to the ‘Refuge de l’Aig du Gouter’. We were in a good condition but we had such heavy rucksacks. 

From the ‘Nid d’Aigle ‘ the way was quite simple and many people decided to go to the ‘Refuge de Tete Rousse’. Some of them were not prepared for this hiking and they were looking for us like for really strange people. Tete Rousse is situated on 3167 m. and this time the way was really easy. 

Most of travelers were going only to this shelter where is the beginning of glacier. They took a picture on the glacier and probbaly they took the last tram or stayed overnight in Tete Rousse. Before this shelter, on 2768 m. there is a brick hut called the ‘Baraque Forestiere des Rognes’ which was open and we had a small rest near it. 

We kept walking with poles, what was a good idea. However, this time we didn’t have snowshoes. In Tete Rousse we had another rest to take some pictures and eat something. We were looking up where was our way and we saw many climbers going up to the Gouter.

Till the Rousse shelter the way was really crowded but further on many people stayed there so the patch to the Gouter was more comfortable because of small groups of climbers. Though it was so stressful because of falling stones. There is one place where these falling stones are the most dangerous. It’s called ‘lobby death’ or ‘Rolling Stones gully’. 

There was a steel rope so we used it and overcame this place without any loss. From that place we started our climbing sometimes using steel ropes and our pickaxes. On the way we met guys from Spain and they asked us what mean this ‘Maly’ and then he always repeat ‘Pequenos‘ in Spain – small. We had a big problem to get to the Gouter 3167 m. as we were so tired. 

The biggest problem had ‘Maly’ but I wasn’t in a good condition too. Only Magda had an excellent form and she was helping us. When we got to the Gouter we decided to pitch a tent because one night in Gouter costs 20 Euro per person and we had our own tent. Near the shelter there was an excellent place for a tent and there were tents already. 

The view was incredible, clear sky, snow was everywhere and we. We prepared something to eat but firstly, we needed to melt the snow. We had our camping gas so everything took some time. We had some pasta but probably only Magda enjoyed the meal because we still felt the difference in air pressure levels.

The Second Day
We decided to have a rest. We improved tent setting and looked around. Our ridge was really huge with big snow cover. Near our tent there were 5 another ones and there was a snow hole where 2 people had their equipment. 

The view was incredible and so amazing, we saw the ‘Aiguille de Midi’ where almost on the top is a shelter with cable cars. On the summit there is a panoramic viewing platform, a café and a gift shop. The weather wasn’t so good and after noon it was getting worse and worse. Gusty winds blew the clouds and we had a spectacular view on the Aiguille summit. 

People started to move to the Gouter shelter but we were staying in our tent. The wind was so strong and we heart a thunder, what ment thunderstorm coming. It’s mean that storm was coming. We saw what wind can do with another tents when we went outside to check our tent. So we once more improved everything around and had a look at crooked and destroyed tents.  

We were laying and talking reminding our previous mountaineering escapades. My leg lay on all our equipment like carabiners, climbing hernees, ropes and climbing-irons. When we saw that lightning was really close we started talking that the next one would strike somewhere behind us. Probably this time the lightning struck the cross or feeler located about 70 m from us. Suddenly, we stopped our talks and I took my head from my rucksack, laid it flat on the ground. I don’t know why but in one moment I rose my leg up and then a huge lightning struck in our tent. I said that I was stricken by the lightning, Magda said it was her. The flash of lightning was unbelievably light and we all felt ground trembling lightly. For a second we stayed silent and motionless. When another lightning struck somewhere behind us, Magda asked why did I have my legs lifted up. I replied that most probably I was stricken by the lightning but when I put them on the ground without any problem it was clear that I was allright. We didn’t dare to go outside for quite a long time but the storm calmed down we decided to find out what really had happen. The lightning struck close to our tent but because we used pickaxes to strenghten our tent pinning and another metal lool laid in the vestibule, metal items conducted the lightning to the equipment I had my legs on. We got some extra holes burnt in the tent. The sound of this lightening stayed for long in our heads. We were so lucky that we were still alive and without any health problems. 

Outside was really something horrible, all tents were in dramatic conditions without anybody inside. The nature did what she wanted. Only the hole in the snow was still like we saw it before.

The Third Day
We decided to go to the top but this decision wasn’t so easy because we still had this horrible accident in our minds and we weren’t sure if it was a good idea. The weather was better and we heart many people passing our tent discussing about all destroyed tents. 

We decided to try. Really fast we prepared our equipment eat something really fast and we started climbing. The way was really easy and the landscape was extremely great and fantastic. We were tied with rope because the wind was so strong. 

The walk to ‘Valot’ was quite easy. We saw many gaps and the summits around look really impressive. We walked slowly because of strong wind and ice-bound terrains but we were enjoying our time. In the ‘Valot’ we had a small break. The place was not so good, there were many people inside and it smelt really badly. 

We needed time for a break, to eat something and drink so we decided to sit outside for a moment. The weather was still changing and when we started climbing the top was all in the clouds. 

On the ridge to the top wind was so strong and we didn’t have good adhesion with our climbing-irons. We didn’t feel good with this wind but we were still climbing. The way was really horrible and we saw many climbers who decided to come back but of course, there were many others who decided to climb ignoring the strong wind. 

When we checked our GPS it said that we were 4400 meters high but to the top was about 2 hours. It was another difficult decision. We decided to come back – the wind won. On the way back we were so sad and of course, when we come back to our tent the weather was so nice. 

We had all day but they told us that next day the weather will be worse so we packed our equipment and started the way back. The weather was still nice but the snow from day before make our way back more difficult. 

All rocks were covered by snow and ice. We needed to hurry up because the last tram was about 6 pm. The most dangerous was of course, the ‘lobby death’. 

There was more snow and everything was moving down. In the ‘Nid d’Aigle ‘ we were just on time to get the last tram.

We decided to spend time in Chamonix and visit some places nearby Chamonix.

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