Alps - July 16th-23rd 2002

Leaving England in baking hot sunshine I woke in the coach to torrential rain and it was most depressing... Although as we headed into the Chamonix valley the rain stopped and the clouds magically parted to reveal blue skies!
However I'd only just got the tent erected an hour later when it began to rain again...for the rest of the day...and all of the next one...

The Aiguille Verte & the Dru from across the valley

Next day, a dull start but I was eager to get going, despite problems with my back after the coach journey and almost 36 hours in the tent. Tripping over in the campsite and falling awkwardly hadn't helped either!
Up the Flegere & Index telepheriques to break through low cloud and the wonderful sight of the Aiguilles Rouge in Sunshine!

The Index from the top station

Already there were several parties on the Index and a couple more on the newly put up routes on its east face.

The Index & the Gliere

There were also several parties climbing the new routes on
the Floria - the new guidebook must be selling well!

The Floria

There was much less snow around than I had expected, last year
there had been quite a lot up here (6 weeks later in the year)

The Crochue & its South Ridge

Somewhere on this ridge is Piolas' route: 'Tour de Crochue'
-but I still couldn't spot where it might be!

The continuation of the South Ridge

Walking on to Lac Blanc the cloud rolled in and everywhere higher was completely obscured. I carried on and as I lost height on the Col de Montets path the cloud thinned giving me views of the Aiguille d'Encrena:

The Eastern end of the Aiguilles Rouges

I could now see across the valley too.

The Argentiere Glacier from the Aiguilles Rouges

By the time I got to the Col de Montets it had begun to rain again and within an hour a tremendous thunderstorm was shaking the valley!

Sleeping late I woke to find unexpectedly clear skies and so got to the Midi telephefrique 'later than recommended'.   On seeing the (literally) hundreds of tourists queuing I altered my plans and went up the Brevent telepherique for a gentle walk along and up to the Index occasionally taking photographs.

Next day I got up (fairly) early to get the first bus to Chamonix to find the Midi Telefrique almost deserted! Up to the Plan station to appreciate the fine views across to the Aiguilles Rouge: 

Brevent/Plan Praz                                                              Flegere/Index

My trail led east along a 'climbers' (ie. indistinct in places) path across moraines and a glacier...

Looking East from the Plan station

Reaching the final morraine alongside the Nantillons glacier gave me a good view of the descent route - Heading down left before crossing the glacier I climbed the col left of the l'M and continued around to the start of the route.

L'M, Col de Bouche & Petits Charmoz

The foreshortening of this photograph does do the route an injustice,
it really is the most impressive buttress of sunny clean rock!

Aiguille de l'M

The views from the summit are spectacular!

Aiguille du Republic & the Grands Charmoz

Looking over the Petits Charmoz to the Blaitiere

The Upper Nantillons Glacier & the Blatiere

Looking back to the Aiguilles de Plan & Aiguille de Midi

Plan, Midi & Peigne

It gives you a birds eye view of the Petits Charmoz ridge!

Petits Charmoz

The amenable descent route down from the Col du Buche

Col de Buche - the descent from the Petits Charmoz and L'M

It rained all of the next day but on the following day I made an attempt to climb the NE Ridge of the Aiguille de La Perseverance. All went well until I reached the main ridge where the move onto it was a bit exposed, committing and very difficult to set up a self-protection system.   Deciding to be prudent I retreated with care from this point. (A route I must go back and complete!)

After lunch I headed down to Argentiere and couldn't resist stopping to do a quick route up the NW arete of the Aiguillette d'Argentiere.

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