Cham they’re off!

After a few weeks in the burgundy region of France, we made the snap decision for a change of scenery and hit the road, bound for Chamonix.

Once we arrived, we had a day off to rest, and managed to sort out some admin in the van and around town. By the end of the day we were already itching to get started, so hatched a plan to get on one of the routes in the Aiguille Rouges.

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On the approach!

We woke up early-ish and made our way to the car park near the Col de Montets, and set off up the hiking path towards the Aiguillette d’Argentière, which we had climbed on a couple of years ago (Aiguillette d’Argentiere ). This path is part of the larger trail du Mont Blanc that circumnavigates Mont Blanc itself, it is something I have always intended to walk, however it may have to wait until I am free for a week and have no buddy to climb with!

The path is very scenic from the off, as you set off through the forest and when this eventually breaks, you are welcomed by a panorama of the entire Mont Blanc range on the opposite side of the valley. This view accompanies you for the rest of the day, and it is truly amazing!

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Eventually the spire of the Aiguillette d’Argentière came into view in the distance and after a few route finding errors we found our way to the foot of the Les Chéserys cliff we had come to climb. Eventually after a quick recce we found the start of a route called Voie de L’EMHM that would suit us.

I had made a wonderful Mediterranean salad before we set off and stupidly forgot to put a fork in the bag, so before the climb I proceeded to pour salad all over my grid! So I set off on the first pitch slightly hungry!

The first move was pretty thin, however after this the climb became quite fluid, I reached the first belay quickly and a quick guidebook check, it stated that the second bolt was at 45m so I pushed on even though I could not see the anchor. Eventually I felt the tug as I’d used up my 60 metres of rope, and I was still 8m away from the anchor, bloody guidebook! With the wind cutting across the face, the distance and the general angle of the climb, verbal communication was non coherent to non-existent, and our rope pull signals did not allow for conversation. In spite of this, we eventually started simul climbing (where both climbers simultaneously climb over terrain without a belay). This was until I reached the anchor and brought Jess safely onto a belay.

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At the first-ish belay!

Once all this faff was over, Jess worked her way up to me and eventually took her lead. We decided to go directly up, as our route curved off to the left, and we wanted to go straight up. This part of the route Voie Bleue and was a decent test piece; you cover easy ground initially and then move onto harder and steeper terrain. This was well led by Jess, and I was happy to second the pitch, sometimes it’s nice to have a rope above you!

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The final pitch was easy, although had spread out bolts, (4 in total over 30 metres). We started an abseil pretty soon after and we made good speed on the decent, even though the ropes had a mind of their own, and we’re happy to go everywhere but where I actually threw them. This was all good practice for the upcoming routes we will hopefully be facing in the future.

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Abseiling off!

Once at the bottom, we rested for a short while before heading back down the path, where we saw a few Chamois (Mountain goats) on the path. Just before the car park I stopped off for a quick douche in a freezing cold alpine stream, this was a fitting end to a great first day in the hills. Time to plan the next adventure!

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A quick wash after a hard day!
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Meeting the locals!
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