Friday, March 20, 2009

Bienvenue a Chamonix

I arrived in Chamonix on Sunday night, and as the weather has since been excellent I have been busy every day. High winds were forecast for today, so I am resting for the good weather that is predicted to follow, running errands, and posting some photos here...

On Monday I went for a solo romp up the easy and classic Arete de Cosmiques on the Aiguille du Midi. While waiting for a guided group at the mid-way rappel station, I was joined by this crow (or is it a raven?):

On Tuesday I met up with fellow North-American Julia Niles, who is in town for just a few days. We went up the Aiguille du Midi and first skied the classic Cosmiques Couloir, followed by the Grand Envers. Julia rapping into the Cosmiques:

On Wednesday Julia and I joined my generous hosts Peje and Jonno, along with Peje's friend Eva, for some sunny gneissic sport-climbing in Valle d'Aosta, Italia. It's pretty awesome that one can drive from Chamonix literally through the Mont Blanc massif, and come out in Courmayeur, where everyone is suddenly speaking Italian. Jonno clipping bolts on a fun 6b:

Yesterday Julia and I went back up the Aiguille du Midi, this time with packs full of climbing gear, and skied down to the east face of Mont Blanc du Tacul to climb its moderate classic ice gully, the Albinoni-Gabarrou. Julia soloing the grade 3 pitch at the entrance of the gully:

Kicking steps in the couloir above:

Julia on pitch 2:

Julia on pitch 4:

Like so many routes in Chamonix, the standard practice for the Albinoni-Gabarrou is to climb a few pitches and then rap off where the angle starts to kick back. And as the famous saying goes, "When in Chamonix, do as the Chamoniards..." Julia setting the first rap, with Aiguille Verte just above her head, Les Drus just to the left, and the south sides of Les Doites and Les Courtes just to the right: