Having recovered from the ladder experience, this day was to present a different challenge. Before setting out all our bags were carefully inspected by Stephane, much got chucked out and packs were much lighter. I also chucked out my heel lifts and was instantly more comfortable and able to balance properly.
We set off on a big cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi. This station is at 3842m and you change cable cars half way up. The station has a rocket on top. Not a very good or beautiful rocket, more of a Thunderbirds type. We got out and cramponed up with axes at the ready.
Straight away, the first thing we had to negotiate was an arete (ridge) of mind numbing terror. My mind did go numb and I just stopped. Being roped to Ann and Stephane, I guess this was not a very bright thing to do but I did nearly lose it. However, on looking ahead, the actual ridge was not very long. I had seen people coming up it when we got out of the cable car and had taken a photo, as you do, thinking “blimey, some people do mad things!” little dreaming that I was about to be one of them.
But once done, soon forgotten and then it was across the Vallee Blanche which was just as described. We crossed crevasses, wending our way for about 5km in lovely weather, and consolidating the skills, crampon wise of the day before. Whilst roped up I got a phone call from the manager at the residential home where my aunt lives, I’m not sure he believed me when I said I was crossing a crevasse! A short stop for lunch, so short I didn’t get any in my mouth and then a short walk to the Helbronner cable station. This station is on the border of France and Italy so I celebrated my dual heritages by spreading myself across the border whilst Ann took photos of me under the flag signs.
The return journey from Helbronner involved a very small cable car which I shared with Annie and Caroline. They started jigging about to Leona Lewis and Steps and it got a bit worrisome for me. Annie stopped when I mentioned my fears were similar to hers of being stuck in the big cable car with lots of people. Fantastic views of where we’d walked. Then all the way down from the Aiguille du Midi to Chamonix and refreshments in a cafe. Walked back to the hotel and evening meal followed by seriously sad and quite weird film about a creepy young guy and his girlfriend Lucille, who he clearly thought was not really human, and their attempt to climb Everest. The attempt resulted in both their deaths. She falling down a crevasse and him just dying hopelessly. The film was strangely edited and the subtitles stopped even before L went down the hole. Just what you want to watch before climbing your first very big mountain!
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.