Friday, October 30, 2009
So, this is an old promise for friends & others, to write a blog post about Mt Blanc. And sry for all estonians, that I didn't write it maakeeles. It just because, that maybe some people, who are not so fluent in estonian, would also want to know what is this mountain about.
First of all, it's fun. Because, there are not many mountains where you can go up to 2400 metres by tram. Nid d'Aigle (Nest of the Eagle) is the last stop of the tramline and that's where the hard part starts. Well, actually it's not hard but it's fucking boring for some time, that I can guarantee. Mostly rocks, dust and sand. The routes of course go with quite big circle, but it's possible to go just straight over the boulders, which we did with Kaupo, as we we were in a hurry. Actually, this is the part, with which I should start.
The original plan was to go by the tram from Col de Voz (which according to my maps was accessible by car) to Nid d'Aigle on friday noon and from there to go up to 2700-2800 metres for the night. When I left Lyon, it was about half past twelve. By that time we had agreed with Kaupo that we'd met in Bionassay, as I realized, that it's only possible to go to Col de Voz with 4x4 cars. And the time to get there from Lyon, according to me was 2-3 hrs. Of course I didn't take the highways as the other ways seemed to be much shorter. Well..it was and I even didn't get lost once..though I nearly crashed my car because of the astonishing views. What I didn't take into account, that the average speed on the "shorter road" where 50 kmh, so I arrived at St Gervais (Kaupo has came there, because he was so bored of waiting) at 6 o'clock in the evening.
A good learning experience, I would say. Obviously, the last tram has left an hour before and we had to change our plan. As we had only time until sunday evening (I need to be back for the school and Kaupo had plain tickets on monday), it was no joke. This is the first thing that I would like to say to people, who want to climb that high first time: easy or not, 4800 m above the sea is no joke. If You want to do it, You'd better take it seriously. Anyway, we decided, despite of the misty weather, to climb as high as possible this evening, in order to win time (which turned out to be a good decision). So we started by car from St Gervais to Bionassay, which was pretty though challenge for my Clio (when ascent angle were more than 50 degrees and 1st gear seemed to be to weak to drive 15 kmh:). From there we continued fast rise from 1600 m to 2400 m. It seemed rather easy, because we climbed nearly 900 metres altitude in 3 hrs and were'nt even very tired. For me it was probably the freshness as I hadn't carried a backbag for more than one month and for Kaupo it was probably the relief from easier load (as I took the tent). Anyway, near Nid d'Aigle Kaupo sped up as he wanted to reach the hut (he was already "sick&tired of the tent" as he had spent a week in there) and I set up the the tent alone. Though I had to do it in dark, I found quite a flat spot without boulders. Still sleeping there wasn't actually very good idea, because it was impossible to sleep there at all. Every 15 or 10 minutes one could hear a sound of falling rock or ruin. Though I knew, that I was situated on the edge of slanting slope and the rocks could never reach me, this is not the kind of thought, that You think in the solitary night on 2400 metres. So that was, I would say, the first bad decision during the trip. The nganasaans in Siberia say: "Only one teeth in mouth - bad, man alone in the woods - worse." Probably it's the same rule in mountains.
The next morning we started about 7 am. I had a small breakfast, packed the tent and then met Kaupo near the hut. Then we take straightest way up over the boulders. It wasn't too hard, but we went maybe bit too fast because there are plenty of climbing on Mt Blanc. The good news were, that the weather changed and it was sunny during rest of the journey. The second day was the hardest part of the trip, as we rose all-in-all about 2000 metres (do not try this in home!:) And this was not just walking, but real climbing. And this was the place, where I discovered my second mistake: I carried the tent all the way up, however I didn't need it anymore. When You manage to reach Aguille du Midi (3800 m), You can say, that harder part of the mountain is over. As this is the place where snow-level beginnes (in the summer), there are no more tough climbing nor falling rocks. Well, when I reached Aguille du Midi, I was literally exhausted (before reaching it, I rested after every 5 steps) so Kaupo needed to encourage me a lot not to surrender.
From Aguille we continued together for some time and it felt much easier, as it was only walking on snow (on a slight 60 degrees angle slope:). Anyway, in the late afternoon I made it (one hour later than Kaupo) to the Dome du Gouter (4300m) and was pretty happy about it. Gouter hut is a nice place for spending the night, basically it's a metal container, but on this altitude it seems equal to a 4-star hotel. And the last part of Mt Blanc is real fun: narrow path on the ridge, from where one can see endless valleys and awesome views on South-East France. The endless clouds of sparks on the earth and their reflections in the black sky --- this is something that You see only in Paradise:D And when You finally reach the top (which is quite hard to spot, as it just an empty place on the ridge) on the sunrise or bit later and see enormous dark cloud in the west, then You can see that there are more powerful beings in world than humans, as it is the shadow of Mt.Blanc.
So, in conclusion, what could I say. If You have the opportunity, the skills, the equipment and the balls You better try it. Cause it's worth it.