This climb was completed in the summer of 2015, during a somewhat turbulent trip to the Alps, we had been somewhat unlucky with the weather and also with other climbs that were left without topping out. All this had led to tensions within the group, and when a weather window showed its head we jumped at the chance to finally achieve a peak, as up to this point and half way through the trip my logbook was looking a little threadbare!
We went posh on this one too, cable cars and staying in the hut to boot! I had been to the Refuge Albert 1er but bivied out nearby rather than stay in the lodgings, I much prefer to be outside under the stars. But this time it was hut all the way. The route to the hut is pretty and has some amazing views down the valley and of the edge/end of the Glacier du Tour, using the cable car to the top saved a few hours walking up the down hill bike routes. We soon made it to our lodgings after a few hours and settled in with a beer and some decent food for evening meal, we were lucky to be sat with a guide and his client so were able to get some extra information about conditions and the route itself, which is always helpful!
An early start followed a restless night, as I was reminded why I preferred to be outside…stuffy room, cramped space, farting, people getting up making noise and so on. We got outside and joined the throngs of people setting out for different routes and started to make our way in the dark towards the snow and put our crampons on. The summer had been prior to our trip overly hot so a lot of the glacier areas were a bit thin in places and there was little to no snow cover on the slopes so all crevasses were clear to see and avoid. We weaved our way up and down a few minor slopes before turning left and heading up toward the Col Superieur de Tour. Again the was more icy than I had previously experienced in the Alps, but at the top you are rewarded not only with a new view but also a small amount of scrambling over rock which was a nice change of pace before hitting snow again.
We had a short break at this point, and checked navigation, although you could clearly see the trough continue left toward the Tour. we made our way up this snow slope and approached the foot of the scramble before the summit. This is where we had to cross quite a thin and weak foot bridge that had been left over a massive bergschrund, at least in my experience. We even took the caution of allowing each climber to cross whilst the other used a body belay until we were all over. After this we removed our crampons and made way for a couple of groups going up and coming down, we scrambled to the summit and for a short while had it to ourselves. That said the views were amazing, better than I remember or was expecting, I wish I had a better knowledge of the surrounding areas however I only knew what I had climbed previously.
We took some obligatory photos on the highest spot and eventually moved out of the way to allow others their moment of glory on the summit, as i said the views were amazing so i was happy to sit for a while at the summit and have another break/food stop! We made our way down using the sea route as coming up, and back over the ever receiving food bridge. I scoped out a climb I will do in the future on the Aiguille Purtscheller’s south ridge. Climbers were high on the route and I had some envy of not being up there with them…next time.
We had only booked one night at the hut so we needed to make it all the way to the valley in one push, but with the help of the cable cars, we were soon down at a more comfortable level. All in all it was a fantastic view at the summit (that I keep referring to), but it was also the first significant climb of the trip. Given the ease of the route, it was still fun and I would actually do it again. After this climb we went on to climb the Aiguillette d’Argentière, which is covered elsewhere in the blog!