Alps Trip - July 3rd-18th 2007

Wednesday 4th: Having arrived in Chamonix yesterday and set ourselves up at the Mer de Glace campsite in Les Praz, Deirdre & I met up with Dave Collier at the telepherique. Our plan had been to ride it up to the Index, do the Traverse of the Crochues and visit the Lac Blanc hut on the way back.

Lac Blanc hut, Aiguilles Rouges

The Lac Blanc hut in the Aiguilles Rouges in early July!

However the low cloud level and forecast of strong winds encouraged us to change our plans to walk from the mid-station (Flegere) to the hut and down to Argentiere past the Aiguillette d’Argentiere.

Snowing lower down at the Aiguilette d'Argentiere!

As it turned out this was the right decision; we walked in thick cloud through the rain for much of the time and unexpectedly over a great deal of snow up near the hut.

Looking down from the Albert Premier hut at the approach path

Friday 6th: After walking up to the Albert 1er hut yesterday from the top of the Telepherique in poor weather we decided to do the Aiguille du Tour via the normal route rather than via the Table de Roc ridge as we'd hoped. However we encountered very strong winds at the Col du Tour and prudently retreated... along with mostly everyone else!

Some Edelweiss in the Val d'Herens

Saturday 7th: As planned we moved over to the Arolla valley to meet up with a few other people on the Evolene campsite, however because the weather was quite poor at least we didn't have to rush this. The weather turned out to be much better in the Val d'Herens!

The Evolene campsite, via ferrata on the left, a snow-laden Dent Blanche & the Petites Dents de Vesivi

Sunday 8th:  Planning to do the Couronne de Breona Ridge we drove up as high as we could but took a wrong turning and ended up at the Remointes de Tsate. Deciding to walk from there we crossed a large boulder field to get into the right cwm. Now being short of time Deirdre decided to miss out the ridge and meet us at the Col de Breona. Dave & I climbed up to the ridge and over the Clocher de Breona.  As we were just starting off along the rest of the ridge it began to rain and a text message from Deirdre decided us to abandon the route before we were too committed.

Long view of the Couronne de Breona Ridge

Tuesday 10th:  Dave, Roger Saxton & I climbed up to the Vignettes hut after checking with the guardian that the Pigne-Cheilon traverse was possible. However when we got there we found we had been misinformed and deep soft snow had made almost all the routes impractical. I was suffering from the onset of  'cold' and had found the climb up over the soft snow of the 'wet' glacier very hard going.

Ths Aiguille de la Tsa ridge from the west

Wednesday 11th: Waking to thick cloud after a warm night with yet more snowfall we judged that the conditions were too poor for any of the routes we wanted to do so we decided to return to Arolla. On the descent we called 'basecamp' and informed them of the conditions so it was no surprise to arrive at the campsite and find that the consensus was to move on to the Ecrins (Aillefroide) in the hope that conditions would be better.

Col de la Tsalion from the Tete de Tronc across the valley

Only Deirdre, Martyn, Rachel & I decided to stay on (I was feeling quite under the weather by now) and we expected to rejoin the main group in a couple of days. Not wanting to waste the day we decided to do an easy walk up to the Aiguilles Rouges hut from Arolla. However as we got higher low thick cloud began to form so we turned around after reaching the Tete du Tronc.

Looking southwards down the reservoir to the Moiry hut

Friday 13th: After disappointing weather yesterday at last it improved so Deirdre & I drove to the Moiry Reservoir in the next valley and did a very nice walk up to the Col du Torrent to meet up with Rachel & Martyn who had walked up from Villa (above Evolene).

Deirdre at the Col de Torrent

Martyn & I then scrambled up the very eroded route to the summit of the Sasseneire. We all returned to the Moiry Reservoir and drove back to Evolene via Villa to collect the other car.

Looking south from the Sasseneire

Sunday 15th:  Another nice day so we all walked from Arolla over the Col de Riedmatten and then back over the quite challenging ladders at the Pas des Chevres.

A lovely route with great views from the Pas de Chevres into the next valley.

The col de Cheilon & the Dix hut from the Pas de Chevres

Monday 16th: After 3 days of sunshine and a promising forecast Martyn & I went up to the Bertol hut planning to do the Aiguille de la Tsa rock route the next day.

Approach to the Bertol hut

Tuesday 17th: We set off from the hut and found it hard going through the soft snow on the path. Upon crossing the ridge we encountered steep terrain with deep soft snow and no indication of where the best descent was. Having no previous knowledge of this approach I was concerned about the amount of snow on the slopes we'd have to descend and I wasn't certain that there were no hidden crevasses or bergshrunds on our route. Being cautious we disappointedly retraced our steps to the hut and back to the valley. Meanwhile Deirdre & Rachel had done the very nice 'Roc Vieux' walk and we all met up back at the campsite.

Our path east from the Bertol hut - up and around this ridge at the earliest opportunity

Wednesday 18th: With very poor weather forecast to return we all did the quite challenging Evolene via ferrata on a lovely sunny day before deciding to cut our losses and return to England.

Rachel & Martin following us up the challenging Evolene via ferrata

A nice holiday but a bit of a frustrating trip due to the unsettled weather and resulting poor snow conditions. The amount of deep soft snow was a surprise, I guess the warm nights were to blame for that.

Looking SE over the Lac des Autannes towards the glacier de Moiry

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