I then wait for all the others to leave and this takes until 5. I decide to get up for an outdoor wee and meet a completely mad English man who has climbed up from the Tete Rousse in the dark and ice and snow. There have been a few centimetres of snow fall. I return to my pit which is now in an empty dorm, only to be woken up by a new man jumping into bed. Sleep a little bit more until 7 when I get up.
I now use the loo for the second time, it’s almost bearable as the big poo canisters have been swapped over, just so long as you don’t breathe at all.
I have breakfast with 2 other people, very odd after last night’s dinner with at least 100. Breakfast is coffee, pancake, cake, bread, butter and jam. I eat it all.
I take a short walk to the top of the ridge immediately outside the hut, this confirms to me that I’ve made the right decision as it’s quite scary just out there. MB is in thick cloud and the ridge is pretty sharp. I take some fairly useless photos.
During the wait, I redesign the toilets in my head – a solar powered snow heater which would supply water so that at least once a day the toilets could be hosed off.
I go back in the hut, having located various items for my pals, start to read a French comic book and am thinking about having a coffee when in walks Caroline with frosty eye lashes, having been the only one to summit, it’s only 9.45 so it’s taken her 6.5 hours up and down. Pierrot follows her in.
Next up are Liz and Mel, last are Annie, Ann and Stephane. There is a lot of hot chocolate on the go for the intrepid explorers.
A suggestion is made that I should descend straight away with Pierrot and Caroline. Stephane intervenes and we go back to the previous days’ formations. Pierrot seems to go a bit on the fast side for me.
I have been very scared about the descent to Tete Rousse, especially in the ice and snow. So it’s crampons on and then I find I start to enjoy it and gain confidence and balance. After 2.5 hours we are back at the Tete Rousse glacier. In fact I’ve enjoyed all the downs! Just you have to ups to get them!
We take our crampons off a bit on the early side but at the glacier we find that one of the girls i.e. Annie or Caroline, has slashed her leg open with a crampon.
Ropes off and now it’s just a regular walk back to the train station. All the MBers are pretty tired, not surprisingly. For this last bit of walk, it gets a bit wet and misty, reminiscent of Lakeland.
We arrive at the station at 3.30 (we have to catch the last train). Stephane has gone ahead so that he can drive Caroline, for it is she who is injured, to the hospital.
So Mel, Liz, Ann, Pierrot and I take our last train and cable car down to the bottom. A small refreshment is made, Pierrot drinking something vilely green.
We get back to the hotel and the walking wounded soon return. Annie’s knuckle is huge and bruised from the rope she held onto as Caroline fell. Caroline has 8 stitches but has more pain from her bruised toe!
I ring home and Ann has a shower. We are in a different room with 3 beds and an en suite smaller than a cross channel ferry.
It is so nice to get out of my smelly clothes and wash off 3 days worth of muck.
Straight down to the bar to watch Stephane’s film. He and his pal climbed a previously unscaled face of Nuptse in the Himalayan mountains. The film is quite terrifying to watch, with S dangling and waving at millions of metres up, but it also totally reinforces my complete confidence in him. He walks like a ballet dancer with perfect poise and balance.
We go off to a nice restaurant in the town. Too tired to take in what it is called. I have nettle and tomato soup ****, veal and risotto ***, a selection of grandmother’s tarts ***. All very nice food but suspect we are all a bit too tired to properly appreciate it.
I have a final night cap with Liz and Mel back at the hotel.
Stephane posted up some photos on a guides’ web site. My rucksack is red, but I seem to be mainly pawing my way along the snow. He took some much better photos of people (me!) and I hope they turn up before long!
I didn’t realise going down was so horrible for some of the others because I loved it! It does indeed take all sorts and in all different ways.
This is the lovely restaurant after all the adventures, La Maison Carrier
The Elbow song!
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.