Climbing and Mountaineering Holidays
Mont Blanc: the training by Dan Aspel
By: Dan Aspel, posted
“Last June I booked onto KE Adventure’s “Mont Blanc Ascent” trip. This April myself and the rest of the team at Trail magazine will be publishing a two-part feature on the experience. So, as part of a much-owed thank-you to KE for their tireless support, here’s a sneak preview of what to expect in the first part…
Exiting the Tunnel du Châtelard from Geneva, I saw Mont Blanc for the first time. My head tilted back. My jaw stayed where it was. The White Mountain went up and up and up. Nearly three times as prominent as Ben Nevis, it is every bit as vast as you’d imagine. It’s so intimidating from the lowland valleys that some Alpine novices (such as myself) change their mind about climbing it. It is draped in unreal glaciers and snowfields and it’s white in the midday sun. Whiter than anything I’d ever seen. There are sharper, tougher and more technical peaks in the Alps… but at 4810m above sea-level, not a single one taller.”
From here, we headed high into the peaks east of Argentières, past the Albert Premier hut and the Glacier du Tour towards the Plateau du Trient…
“Roping up, we abseil down the steep, snow-riven slope of the Col Superior onto the plateau. Bouncing down, over nooks of hidden crevasse and dangling beneath the rest of the team – the ropes stretching upwards into the white cloud of snow above us – there’s a single, pounding thought in my head: ‘This is very, very cool.’ ”
… and eventually leading to the climax of our training. A climb of the Aiguille du Tour…
“Across the other side of the Plateau du Trient is tomorrow’s goal: the rocky tower of the Aiguille du Tour. Getting to it requires our first ‘alpine start’, in this case just before first light. As we and other groups strap on our crampons on the icy slope just beneath the hut, the morning begins to turn dark blue. As we once again cross the plateau the sky twists through the colour spectrum from navy to azure and eventually to a bright electric as the sun breaks over the horizon. A thick layer of cloud lies below the tips of the neighbouring peaks, which spread out to all points of the compass. As the intensity of the sun grows the ice crystals in the snowy shoulder of the Aiguille de Tour begin to sparkle like diamonds.”Login or register to post comments
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