We had signed up together but German Boy and I ended up with different guides on Friday for our acclimatization jaunt. Not a big deal, we wouldn’t be doing so much anyway. He headed up to the top of Aigille du Midi, lucky sucker, while we stuck around on the middle ground and went to play in the snow. We were pretty lucky, the few of us had also managed to collection, in addition to our BMG Richard two Arcteryx ice climbing athletes, one of whom also guides ice climbing. We were regaled all day long with stories like
‘So he was balancing right at the bottom of the cliff with both hands in the loops putting on his rock shoes and he fell head first down the approach’
‘See that north face there, it was first climbed before front points, so they cut steps all the way up with their ice axes’
‘That one time we pitched our tent in grass and woke up in a river’
‘We would often think poorly of those who took the cable cars up, but get to the base of our climbs and realize we were too tired to do the climb and head back down. We took those as signs maybe we weren’t really ready for the climb anyway’
Full of wisdom, personal experience, and an awful lot of learning the hard way. It was a good day! We were a diverse group, a loud and heckling hilarious crew of gentlemen living in Scotland, another younger student age like me girl, one man who seemed to be carrying his entire equipment set on his back, including an extra pair of boots, and maybe a few extras. It wasn’t such an intense group day, so I didn’t get to know all of them. We reviewed some snow skills, cutting steps and making them with our boots, making sure we were confident of each foot, self arresting. Nothing new but good to get back into the habit of.
Most of the day was easy enough hiking at a pretty slow pace, it’s good to get back into the habit of actually being guided which can take some getting used to, back into the habit of going with strangers and building a group dynamic, of going slow at a pace that would last all week.
We did end up putting on our hard shells, the spectacular morning weather gave way to a forecasted thunderstorm, but we were already quite close to our goal at the Montvers train back down. Quite a few people had taken advantage of the clothing trail offers and were wearing some fairly spectacular jackets, we all stayed dry whether in our own gear or not, and I said loudly and often that I would not end up trying the same jackets because I knew I would be doomed to wanting to buy them, of course famous last words. After some stunning (uncpatured) views over the Mer du Glace and the Grand combine we hopped on with all the small children and asian tourists to walk back through town, have a bit of a debrief, and head off to find our cohort.
German Boy and I had not really made an end of the day plan, having thought we would be together, I of course left my iPhone charging in the hotel room, I did however have the key so that was a bonus. I wandered around a bit, and looking at all of the exceptionally shiny new gear hanging around, I caved, and ended up taking an Alpha SV in brilliant beautiful orange for the day. It was not a poor decision. We managed to find somewhere to eat, after some discussion, and an inaccurate estimation of drink volume sizes lead to a slightly drunk Jenna for the evening seminars. I learned how to keep my fingers safe and German Boy that high altitude sucks, and we went to bed early for a fresh start for the Day 2