The Mont Blanc approach

A fairly leisurely start as we only had to get up to the Tete Rousse hut at 3187 meters, and the rack railway took us up to 2380 meters already. That made it about an 800 meter climb if my sums are right. This to be over mushy snow and glacial rubble fields. Ankles be damned.

We managed this in just under 3 hours, and it didn’t even feel hard surprisingly. All the acclimatisation must be working. What was better that the weather held until we got to the hut. Our hope a that it was not going to be as wet or snowy as the forecast was predicting, and it would not stay as warm in order to stabilise the snow, ice and rocks we had to climb over to get to the top of Mont Blanc.

We planned to leave early for an alpine start about 4 am, climb about 150 meters to and across the Grand Couloir. This is a steep and narrow gully from near the Gouter hut and past the back of the Tete Rousse hut.

It started to rain, along with some lightning, just after we got to the hut. During dinner, about 7pm, there was a sudden commotion. An avalanche was heading down the Grand Couloir. Car sized rocks and masses of snow and rubble thundered down all 600 meters of the gully. The warm wet weather was not doing us any favours. The talk in the hut was then generally about plans B, C and D.

Lights out was about 9pm. But the alpine start had changed to wait and see what the morning would bring us. We were in the hands of the fickle mountain and weather gods.

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