First full week of Aspirancy...
This week I was working for Martin Moran over in the Valais and for Mountain Tracks and Olly Allen here in Chamonix. It has been my first full week of Aspirancy away from my more regular work with British Military groups. The weather has been more settled than earlier in the season, but plagued by some fairly fierce high winds at altitude which unfortunately prevented our group from Summiting Mont Blanc yesterday.
I have however, thoroughly enjoyed the week on the whole, with some great routes and great company from the lead Guides and the clients. On Monday I shared a wonderfull day on the Lenspitze NE Face and traverse to the Nadelhorn with Matthew, one of Martin Morans clients (right). Martin is a lovely Guide to work for, full of excellent advice and the wisdom of years of experience and I was really pleased to be working alongside him on this classic route in the Valais. Made even better by the fantastic conditions and the fact that we shared this route with only one other team, a French Guide Yanick and his client Bruno- who kindly emailed me the photo of us on the face above left.
The ridge is great ground to guide on, always changing, up and down, pretty solid rock and exposure on both sides all the way. I feel pretty lucky to have had a really lovely guy to share this route with... thank you very much Matthew!
After such success on the Lenspitz/Nadelhorn I had one more day with two different clients from Martin, Mark and Ellen... and we were off to the Mirror D'Argentine for the classic multi-pitch route first put up the face.
I have climbed with Mark before in Scotland so it was a real pleasure to see him out in the Alps discovering their magic for the first time. I have heard about the Mirror before but haven't actually climbed there so it was a great adventure for the three of us. The climbing on the first few pitches is a little polished but it is worth persevereing because after that the polish disappears and the climbing becomes well-positioned and absorbing following a natural line of weakness all the way to the summit. The descent is through a beautifull alpine valley filled with flowers and a real sense that you are far away from it all... we had to hurry back to the car to ensure that Mark and llen made it back to their Evolene base for tea and cakes so we missed out on a very tempting break at the mountain refuge half way down.
The latter part of the week I have been working for Mountain tracks on the summit days for a Mont Blanc package. Despite having a strong client group the very strong winds at altitude meant that we were pinned down at the Gouter hut for two nights and the team had to battle to reach a high point of the Vallot refuge on Thursday. Team spirit remained high though and I feel sure that some of the group will return in future for a rematch. Now safely down from the Gouter I write this as rain sheets down in th town centre of Chamonix... I'm pretty sure that Raj, Tony, Inger and Julian are all very glad to be down safe tonight. Well done guys for a fierce couple of days and fingers crossed for next time. :)