After an accident in 2006, I thought I would never resume alpinism till the end of 2008 and than I have changed my mind. But still I can hardly believe to have done this most beautiful and technically and humanly most complete, but also longest and hardest hike of my life during my first season of skiing tours after a 4 years break.
Olivier Dufour, my excellent guide of the Mont Blanc, has published the photos of our hike and I add a little account below.
The most difficult ant the most romantic part was the climb of the Aiguille du Goûter (650 m altitude difference) with the skis on the back pack under the full moon from 3 to 6 h am, starting with the ominous “Death Corridor”.
The hike was anything but ordinary: we had chosen the “summer route” and started walking from the parking without taking any cable or train (1800m ascent from the hamlet of Bionnassay (Saint Gervais) to the Tete Rousse refuge at 3167m, quite a long time needed). At the beginning we had to carry the skis about 1 hour and a half before we found some snow. Than we put on the seals’ skins and continued walking with skis on the glacier to reach the refuge – not guarded or heated at this time of the year – as a first stage on Tuesday. We had to bring our food and a little stove, to cook our meal and to melt the snow for tea. The temperature inside the refuge was about 2-3°C. But we were alone!
Summit Wednesday: getting up at 2:15, start at 3 am to reach the summit at 13 pm via l’Aiguille du Goûter (3817m). The part between the refuge and the Aiguille du Goûter is the most difficult part of the whole hike: it is a 650 m mixed climb with the skis on our backs again, in a snow corridor at first and on rocks in the second part of this passage; the rocks were covered with some fresh snow. After that there was a nice classic ascent with seals’ skins on glaciers. Finally we deposited the skis near to the Bivouac Vallot at 4300m and continued with crampons the last 500m on the ridge. On this last bit we were in company of many people coming from the winter refuges “Cosmique” and “Les Grands Mulets” as well as illegal helicopter skiers smuggled from Italy, miserable cheaters!!! The descent by the Grand Mulets was also interesting: we had to pass the infamous “Petit Plateau” where many icefalls come down from a huge serac, beautiful but extremely dangerous (we passed the blocks of ice on the way …), we had to jump a crevasse, then I fell into a crevasse (!) and lost my phone there… Finally, we arrived at the station Plan de l’Aiguille at 16:25 pm, where I was very happy to take the cable car.
We had the full moon while climbing to the Aiguille du Goùter, then the moonset followed by the sunrise: I had always dreamt about a full moon skiing tour, and I was able to live it now precisely at the Mont Blanc! It’s magic. The conditions were more optimal. Olivier said he had never seen the Mont Blanc so soft, it was fabulous. But it’s also quite hard, approx. 3700 m ascent and descent of 2400 m in two days. And I still had to drive from Chamonix to Belp. For me, the hike ended first when I arrived home at about 20:30 pm.