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A peak too far

09/10/2013



Mont Blanc is one of the most popular objectives for alpinists in Europe. This is partly because of the common myth that "It's just a walk". Well it is not a walk, and it actually has a less than 50% success rate.

A group of 8 arrived mid September from credit scoring firm Callcredit, hoping to summit the highest peak in Western Europe. However, things did not go to plan.

The first 3 days saw the group undertaking training and acclimatisation in Switzerland from the Orny and Trient refuges. Conditions were good, and the team were all enjoying themselves. Reaching the summit of the Aiguille du Tour gave a fine view of our objective, and showed the guys were up to it.

Unfortunately, upon reaching Chamonix the forecast for the summit phase was terrible. An icy wind was expected from the North, bringing freezing temperatures and fresh snow. The safety of my clients must always be my priority, hence I switched our objective to the lower Gran Paradiso (4061m) in Italy.

On route to the Chabod rifugio we enjoyed the exciting via ferrata in the nearby gorge, but by the time we reached the hut the first spots of rain had already arrived. Through the night the temperature dropped, and the cloud thickened.

By morning conditions were looking dubious, but we set off, hoping they would improve. As we gained height, patches of blue sky occasionally appeared, but they didn't seem to be dominating the sky. The wind was cold, and was blowing fresh spindrift into our eyes. At 3,700m I decided that enough was enough and the group turned around.

It was disappointing for everyone, but it was the right decision to make. The mountains will always be there, and forcing an ascent in poor weather will always have the potential to go badly wrong. I hope that the group are able to come back again in the future to give Mt Blanc another try.


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