Mont Blanc Mountain Challenge

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We are all back from our jaunt up the mountainside safe and sound and I am pleased to say we achieved far more this year, and feel very proud of our epic trip.

During the first three days we acclimatised at altitude and spent time climbing/scrambling up ridges in the snow, sometimes waist deep traversing the Vallée Blanche and Glacier du Géant and ascending Aiguille du Midi in a mixture of weather conditions. Summer time, and over 1.5m of fresh snow in two nights.

The first day was very poor with snow and bad visibility where we climbed up Aig Marbrees (3535m) from the Italian side of the mountain. We spent the night in Refuge Torino where we had the most appalling food. Day two we traversed the Glacier walking alongside the great crevasses in beautiful weather but very deep snow, with several of the group disappearing into crevasses up to their waists including me, eventually reaching Refuge des Cosmiquies (3513m) where we had better facilities and food. Unfortunately we had too much sun from the glare off the snow, and myself/Tim/Adrian certainly suffered from this!

On day three we ascended Aiguille Du Midi where you experience truly awesome views down the valley into Chamonix some 2800m below you from the snow ridge approx 500mm wide.

As the weather forecast appeared to be reasonable, we decided with our guides Woolfgang (Woolfie), Franz and Parlo to go for the main climb a day early. On Friday morning we ascended to our base Refuge De Téte Rousse (3167m), where we rested for the remainder of the evening. We were scheduled to be up at 3am and leave at 3.45am on Saturday morning, none of us slept well (anxiety I suspect ! also 12 to   a room snoring, and a resting heartbeat at altitiude of 90bpm).

We left as planned at 3.45am Saturday morning in what was a lovely morning, where you could see all the stars. From here we climbed some 700m to Refuge de L’Aig du Gouter reaching the refuge at 6 am (day break), this was a tough climb up a very severe ridge. After some food /drink we then started the long ascent to Dôme Du Gôuter and on to Mont Blanc. The sheer scale of the mountain sat in front of   you and at this stage we all realised what our trip was all about. At this stage the climb/walk was all about endurance and this is where the mind needs to be really positive as every step is tough in waist deep snow. Unfortunately for us the wind was beginning to gather pace as well and shortly after setting off mine, Rob and Tim’s camel bags froze starving us of essential fluids.

As we reached Bivovac Vallot (4362m) tin box the weather was really grim with wind speeds of up to 100km/hr with the snow being blown into your face. Despite this we carried on for another hour or so reaching a height of 4650m. During these later stages every step was really tough due to the wind and terrain wit myself being blown over numerous times. We were literally leaning into the wind and forcing every step ensuring you were well ‘dug in’ and supported with your ice pick prior to the next step. The final 150m ascent required us to a traverse a narrow ridge which could not be crossed unless the winds were 40km/hr or below. As the wind was over 2 ½ times this we had to abort getting to the summit which was disappointing but bearing in mind we had climbed to 4650m this was a major achievement in its own right.

The descent became equally challenging due to the pressure put on your legs and knees, some 14 hours after leaving Refuge De Téte Rousse we arrived back at the base of the mountain to return to Chamonix. Believe me this was a hell of an endurance test of the body, both physically and mentally, my legs are still recovering. This trip has been a fabulous experience for us all. The team worked really well together and we had some great guides to help us through the experience.

We all really appreciate the tremendous support/sponsorship you have all given us and thank you very much for your generosity. We have been pledged over £30,000, so please send your cheques through to me as soon as possible.

Once again from myself and our esteemed team many thanks for your support on this challenging and memorable adventure.

Graham Simpson (FCS Ductwork)
Tim Atkinson (Bovis Lend lease)
Richard Elliott (British Land)
Rob Dudley (Bovis Lend lease)
Adrian Richards (Bovis Lend lease)
Kevin Tutt (Swift Horsman)
Support crew (mazzer)


Last Updated: 5th-Sep-2007 14:00 Print
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