The forecast looked good for Wednesday 26th, but better for Friday. However, in our eagerness and psyche, we opted to do the famous Vallee Blanche on Wednesday. I was skiing well, and had an idea of not just doing it once, but twice. So me and Kev grabbed our skis, and headed for the first bin up the midi. On arrival, we were greeted by a vast number of others who had the same idea. And so, we booked our place and went for a coffee. The midi ridge was pretty crowded. People skating down in just ski boots, clutching at the ropes to avoid the inevitable plummet back to Chamonix. The more sensible and well equipped of us, gracefully meandering around these hazards, with the safety of our crampons giving traction in the hard packed snow. Once down off the ridge, the wind was picking up and throwing spindrift down any opening in our jackets. A quick glance up from putting on skis and I could see the cloud rolling over the Italian border, engulfing the mountains and creeping towards us. Maybe they were right about Friday being the better day.
|Waiting for the top bin|
|Not far off...|
|Just take another selfie...|
SO off we went, skiing the icy moguls off the ridge and down to the well tracked Col du Midi and toward Pointe Lachenal. We opted for a harder variation than the Normal Route, so skied off towards the Gros Rognan and kept close to it's right side. 40 degree powder and fresh untracked snow (in places), perfect. Between dodging the crevasses and steep drops, the skiing was great. No as hard as everyone makes out, and not as scary as I was led to believe. Not yet any way. We joined back onto the Normal route, through the Seracs and finally onto the Mer de Glace. The long, flat run back to the station got a little bit boring after a while, but the scenery was amazing. And Kev had failed to mention the 500 odd steps back up to the gondola! My legs were Knackered by the time we got onto the Montenvers train, but the psyche of doing it again, my 2nd time, spurred me on.
|Point Lachenal and the N.face of Tacul|
|looking back to the Midi|
|Clouds rolling in from Italy|
|Just past the Seracs du Geant|
|Kev on the VB|
|Top part of the VB|
"Too scared to carry on, we waited, forced to spend the night on the glacier. Just the 2 of us, alone in bad weather, on the Vallee Blanche..."
For a few minutes we contemplated our options: Carry on and risk a fall into the heart of the glacier? Sit and wait for the weather to clear enough to carry on? Sit and wait till morning? Neither of us had gear to spend the night on the glacier in any comfort. Neither of us had a cooker, spare food or any form of shelter. Kev had left his bothy bag back at the Gite. It would have been a very cold and uncomfortable night...
...But through some stroke of luck, a French guide and his party came skiing past, just off of our tracks. And as if by magic, the cloud lifted slightly. Ahead of us, the small snow bridge. If we had just carried on for a few more metres we would have crossed it. It all started to seem a little bit silly now. The 'epic' we nearly encountered seems pathetic compared to the great alpinists who have spent days storm bound on North Faces. 2 amateur skiers, benighted on a glacier in a light breeze, scared to move because of what 'could' happen. Any way, it WAS a little scary, but also quite exciting. We left some space between us and the guided party, and followed in their tracks. Although, at one point, I managed to hit a rock and took a tumble. I slid a little way, head first, and below me was the hollow darkness of a crevasse. Not gunna lie, I panicked a little. Not only would I slide a little closer every time I tried to get up, but I had lost the group and Kev to the cloud and snow. Now i really was alone. I skied as fast and carefully as I could until I saw Kev's silhouette just ahead of me, and then the group a little further ahead. We had broken through the base of the cloud and were now heading back down the Mer de Glace. Finally, the home straight, and safety was in sight. Lets just get off this glacier and go for a beer. I think we deserve it!
Ahh shit, those bloody steps again!!
|I think this is when we broke through the cloud on the Mer de Glace, i can't remember|
|On the Mer de Glace as the visibility improved!|
|A well deserved pint after an 'epic' of a day|