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Late Season Alpinism

12/10/2013



After "finishing" the season late September the weather and conditions in Chamonix stayed good. In fact, they were excellent. As well as getting out and enjoying myself on the crags with friends I also enjoyed a couple more days of great climbing with clients Damien and Alison Stork. They've spent most of the summer in Chamonix, and were keen not to miss out on the great conditions that were prevalent in early October.

Alison can be a little nervous when climbing so we started off with a pleasant traverse of Point Lachenal from the Aiguille du Midi. This relatively short climb is a great place to practise skills and has incredible views of the Mont Blanc Massif. After a spot of lunch we traversed the glacier, and then made our way along the Arete Laurent and directly onto the balcony of the Refuge Cosmiques. It was a stunning afternoon so we took full advantage by sitting in the sun and enjoying a cup of tea. All in all, a great day in the mountains.

The following week, after a few days of rough weather, things were shaping up nicely and Damien was keen for an adventure. After umming and arring for a while, Alison told him to get on with it, and thus I was booked for an ascent of the Dent du Geant ! This 4000m peak dominates the skyline, and is aptly named as the Giant Tooth. Taking the first lift from Courmayeur in Italy we were surprised to find that there were only a couple of other teams on the mountain, and nobody was going to do the same route as us. If there's one thing that is rare on the Dent du Geant it is solitude, but we had it to ourselves.

After making our way up the mixed ground to the Salle a Manger we traversed onto the West Face and headed up the fixed ropes. Even with the fixed ropes it is still a strenuous climb, but it wasn't long until we were on the summit in glorious sunshine, enjoying the views to Zermatt, Chamonix, and Courmayeur. The abseils directly down the South Face had us quickly back on snow and 90 minutes later we were in the lift and on our way to a well earned beer in Chamonix.

Autumn can be a time of huge storms in the Alps, but it can also be a time of perfect sunny days, and great snow conditions. The peaks are empty and the hotels are cheap. If you are an opportunist who likes to climb away from the crowds, then an Autumn visit to the Alps should be on your agenda for the future.


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