Mont Blanc; It’s always seemed pretty boring from Chamonix. Compared to all the other peaks you can see from the valley, and the steep lines that are easily accessed, it didn’t seem to me like a very interesting line to climb and ride, just a really long day.
Anyway, I was so wrong. It was so nice to get the top. And perhaps one of the most spectacular lines I’ve ever done. Not so steep, but it’s so amazing to pick your way through the glaciers, traversing under towers of ice the size of 6-storey buildings. Debris littering the snow from recent serac collapses. When we got to about half way down, we couldn’t believe we had another 1400 metres to go.
The conditions we had were pretty much perfect, 40-50 cms on the north face, while the ridge lines on the way up were nicely wind affected, making it firm and fast in crampons. Paul and I both took split boards, which worked really well. The Voile system is so good, really easy to use and quick turn-arounds. I used to have a split-board with different system a few years ago, and it sucked so much.It made touring such a pain. With the Voile system, its so nice to have the security of knowing your board is going to fit back together at the end of a long hike up. Matched with Spark Bindings, you have a pretty solid, practicable setup that you can trust.
But seriously, It wasn’t all fun and games. The main day was a bit of a mission. The first day is kind of mellow, you just need to cross the Les Bossons glacier early enough in the day, when the snowbridges are consolidated and safe. We arrived at the Grand Mulet hut at around 2pm, found our bunks and chilled out. Dinner was Lentils and Rice, which was so rad, ’cause I’m vegetarian. I love lentils and rice. After a bit of chin wagging with mates, I headed to bed early wondering how the next day was going to go. Getting up at 1am ,for breakfast and coffee, You leave the hut at 2.30 am with head torches on and hike through the early morning. It was nice to think of Kellie safely tucked up in bed, and I could make out our house from the town lights blazing all night. As the morning progressed, the light started to changed on the ridge up to the Dome de Gouter, and rich orange glow started formed in the east.
At about half way, just below the Vallot hut, I sat down with Paul to have a snack and some water. My stomach was starting to feel pretty messed up from the altitude, and I felt like I was going to be sick, so I took a pain killer and that settled things down enough to have the effort to get up and keep going.
Above the Vallot hut the wind picked up. Normally strong wind tends to annoy me, but it did a good job of cooling me off, as the by this time the sun was getting pretty strong. The views started to become pretty impressive as you looked south down the entire French Alps, and east, pass the Matterhorn, Monterosa and Grand Combin. The trip up consisted of, on the first day, pretty much all the time in split mode, and on the main day half in split mode and half on crampons. I was really glad to have Mr Chomps Splitboard crampons, as some of the switchbacks were pretty critical. Sometimes really firm snow, above meaty seracs.
So Yeah, It was pretty sweet to get to the roof of Europe, and the run down was long, with great snow, through really huge glacial terrain. Sometimes you’d find yourself on big open faces, other times picking your way through broken up ground with loads of crevasses. A really interesting, fun line, and a solid 12 hours of going up and down.