ClassicClimbs | Sharing a special Mont Blanc summit with friends
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Sharing a special Mont Blanc summit with friends

I have just finished a great week with two good friends from Sardegnia, Mariangela Lovicu and Salvatore (Tore) Solinas, who made the time to visit me here Chamonix, with the hope and aspiration to climb Mont Blanc.  Summer is a really busy time for their work over in Sardegnia so they were unable to get more than four days free to acclimatise and try for the summit.

Left, My wonderful friend Mariangela and I above th clouds at the Tete Rousse Hut.

This is a very tight schedule and you need to have a fair amount of luck on your side to get the right conditions  and the right weather to allow you a chance at success.  We also knew that they had to be pretty organised and head straight up to the Tete Rousse hut at 3100m in order to try to get acclimatised enough for a summit bid.

Right, Tore and Mariangela on the summit of Mont Blanc 4808m. So pleased to share this special summit with them!

The two weeks prior to their visit temperatures in Chamonix had been well above 30degrees C and the municipality of St Gervais (to whom responsibility for the Gouter Refuge and Gouter route falls) had issued a preliminary warning that the Gouter couloir was in very poor condition.

If the situation deteriorated any further it was likely that they would close the Refuge Gouter and advise against any ascent crossing the Gouter couloir.   During my work in the days prior to my friend’s visit the weather had changed, bringing snow and cooler temperatures to the Alps.  Temporarily silencing the grumbling from an unstable Gouter couloir.

Left, Celebrating on a cold and windy Mont Blanc summit.

It began to look like an ascent of the Gouter route might be possible during their visit… and when the weather forecast predicted clear skies, moderate winds at altitude and a good freeze overnight I had difficulty believing in our shared good fortune!  Making plans three months in advance and with such a small window of opportunity leaves no flexibility and realistically low chances of success.  This time luck was firmly on our side… and as Mariangela assured me from the translation of an Italian expression… we had very big bottoms! 🙂

My friends walked up to the Tete Rousse along whilst I finished work to start their acclimatization and I trekked up to join them the following day.  After a wonderful evening catching up and making final preparations for the next day everything was set for our summit bid.

Right, Tore and Mariangela at the Tete Rousse hut.

Thankfully I’d booked the Gouter hut for us months before so we knew that we only needed to gain the summit and could stay high for our final night, and cross the Gouter couloir again in descent in the cold of the following morning.  I’m pleased to say that absolutely everything went to plan… our morning ascent was cold, made more so by a strong wind from the northwest.  The crisp clear skies made for wonderful views from the Grand Paradiso and Ecrins in the South, to the big peaks of Monta Rosa and the Bernese Oberland in the west.  We walked well as a team and made the summit in just over six and a half hours from the Tete Rousse… shared a very emotional summit celebration before heading back down past a good number of teams still on their way up.

I normally work on Mont Blanc 2 or 3 times a season and this was my first successful summit of the year and a great pleasure to share it with such special friends.  We are already making plans for new shared adventures in October and I can’t wait to build more wonderful shared memories with them both in future.  Thank you, Tore and Mariangela for bringing a lot of happiness and fun into my life… well done on the summit and see you again soon!

 

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