Tignes Off Piste Jan 2004
Gogarth Climbing June 04
The Haute Route

Chamonix to Zermatt by the Classic Route
August 2001

Day Two: Refuge Albert Premier to Champex

Sunrise over the Aigille Rouge
Up to the Col du Tour Breakfast was at 5am, but we got in at 5.15. "You're late", says the guy in the kitchen, but there is plentiful breakfast, bread, butter, jam, cake, tea, coffee or chocolate. The hut cost 460FrF and we collected our BMC reciprocal rights cards. As dim light is arriving we set off and torches are not necessary. Quite a lot of other people are heading the same way to begin with and on reaching the snow we rope up along with the others. Our route heads for the Col du Tour (as recommended by the book) and we watch as other teams go up the shorter and much steeper Col du Tour Sup. Only two other teams go our way, but we are first to the Col as one takes a steeper line and the other rests with children. We walk into the rising sun and tentatively walk towards the edge, only to East face Aiguille du TourAiguille du Chardonnetfind that the route is corniced and below there are 3 fresh, small avalanches.What to do? There looks to be a way off to the right, but it is fairly steep and I wouldn't like to fall there, especially on our first full day out. As we descend a few metres to check out another possibility, the team with children are now at the Col but climbing a few rocks to the left. We wonder whether they will find a way through but they settle down for some food. The small gap we are checking out doesn't look feasible, even though there are tracks apparently leading through to the other side. We cannot get down from here, so we make the decision to fully retrace our tracks to the Col du Tour Sup, where most teams had gone earlier. It was annoying and probably lost us the best part of 2 hrs. The climb is short but fairly steep and for day one we took it slowly. At the rocky col, we rested for a few minutes and had a nibble and a drink. A guided party arrive and then move on to do a route on the 3 views giving skyline left of Aig du TourSkyline back from the Glacier du TrientCorniced Col du Tour, with avalanches, from where we turned aroundAig du Tour. Our way takes us down across the Glacier du Trient. We look over to the Aig du Chardonnay and the Aig d'Argentière, trying to work out where the skiing route comes through as a recce for a possible future winter trip. Also we look back and see where we had tried to come through earlier. It confirms that we had been correct to retrace our steps. The possibilities we had considered were not easily feasible. I take a tiny short cut on a corner in the track and my right leg goes through the snow, fortunately I can simply Bill on the Gl du Trient, Aig du Tour behindTo the Trient Hut, atop the buttressextricate myself and carry on, but it's a warning to take care. We head over toward the Trient Hut and before descending have a short lunch break for chicken we had brought with us. Keeping right we go down the Glacier D'Orny. There are climbers on the ridge to the left and the snow is soft as we descend past the Cab D'Orny. 2 or 3 parties turn in toward the Hut, but we carry on down to the path along the moraine. Past the Lac d'Orny and the long path towards the Brenay lift. As the rucksac became heavier and heavier, each Path to Brenay liftThe Brenay liftbend around the ridge became the one leading to the lift and each time hope was dashed. The book said the lift ran on the hour, every hour, but as we finally rounded the last bend and saw the lift, it was with great relief to see it running non-stop. Bill paid the 9SFr each for us to ride down. It was a beautiful ride, through the trees, with superb view down over Champex and its lake. I thought "That's the best 90p worth of lift ever, until I suddenly realised we were in Switzerland and it was almost 4.50. Ah well, the best 4.50s worth. At the bottom Bill was already chatting to the lift woman to find out where the bus ran from. He came out, after a chat, to say we were booked into a hotel on the lake front. All we had to do was walk the half mile to it. We were in the Auberge de la Foret in a room overlooking the lake, with a small balcony and a superb view. A bath first and then down to the bar for a pint. Discussions centred on the weight of our sacs and we concluded that we had set off suffering from Brits disease. Packing for every eventuality was not a viable option. We had to dump a pile of gear otherwise we wouldn't make the trip. We had bivvy gear - bivvy bags, mats, stove, packet soup etc. I had brought my 45m, 9mil rope, which I was not prepared to cut, so an alternative had to be found . The rope had to be left. I had my Dawn view from the hotelduvet jacket as well as my fleece jacket, the duvet was dumped. Two ice screws also went as well as other small items. We bagged quite a weight of gear, which we deposited at the hotel.
It was a surprise to find that our half board included an excellent five course evening meal and, somewhat later than we had intended, we went to bed feeling quite stuffed.


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David Mercer2001