Saturday 12th September Day 5

Mel and Liz happy to be at the Gouter
Annie, Caroline and Pierrot

Wake up at 7 after some sleep at last. Coffee, juice, bread and cake for breakfast.

I use the improbable loo outside as it’s clean and lacks odours thanks to there being a lot of air. We find another loo which is just outside the hut and which is also OK.
The Tete Rousse is at 3167m and we are about to climb up to the Gouter refuge at 3817m
Set off at 8 and basically it’s a 650m vertical climb. I looked up and could see the Gouter ahead and then realised what we had to do.
For this we roped up with Stephane in the lead, then me and Ann behind. This makes me a feel a bit like an old donkey and occasionally I get tugged in both directions at once which is interesting. However a lot of the climb is fine and sometimes it’s hard work. I soon realise that the only thing I can look at is my feet. If I look up the Gouter never seems to get any nearer and if I look down I will be sick.
Amazingly, after 2.5 hours, we arrive at the dreaded Gouter refuge. This is my summit. It’s so high it takes me a whole day before I feel confident enough to look out properly.
The refuge is small, it can sleep 40 but gets a regular influx of 100 plus. The loos are beyond the pale. I manage only to use them 2 times in 24 hours.
At first the plan is to go to the summit straight away as it’s only 10.30 and we can be back by 6, sleep over at Gouter and then go down. This I would have been able to do as I was still quite fresh, however the weather is not good and so this suggestion is abandoned. I also know I will struggle to summit and then go all the way back down to the bottom in one go.
We hang about, have some lunch of pasta bolognese which is very nice. We try to sleep and I fail so get up and drink wine with Mel.
Then it’s supper time, this is packet soup, a lump of cheese, rice and sausage in sauce. The sausage is very pink so I decline.
Annie seems not very well – probably altitude sickness. Ann has gone up with Stephane a couple of hundred metres from Gouter and seems to be OK on altitude as this has been a concern for her.
The refuge is very busy now, crowded. We are lucky that we have beds reserved. I tell the guides I’m not up to the big walk and S says I’ve made a good decision which reassures me. I also have refused to give in to peer pressure, something contrary about me finds it does that to me!
I try to construct my own SheWee out of a plastic bottle, water at this refuge 50c more than 650m lower. However my funnel needs some modification and it does work in the urinal but there is a problem when I try to remove it and I find my leg is very wet. I also find I have no sense of propriety remaining and felt totally happy piddling into my funnel with a couple of guys next to me.
I manage to get a signal and phone home. The signal is very wavery and inconsistent. It’s actually snowing whilst I do this outside.
There is an 8 o’clock curfew and we all go to bed early. I sleep a fair bit, even though there are a lot of interruptions. Our Annie sleep shouts out “HOLD, HOLD ON, PLEASE!”. The Russians outside continue to witter loudly and then Liz jumps up and yells at them to “Shut up”. Good ol’ Liz.


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