Chris Kulp mountaineering in France and Switzerland • July 25 to August 7, 2005

Dr. Christopher Kulp, from the San Francisco Bay Area, made his annual pilgrimage to the birthplace of mountaineering to pay homage to the heroes of the sport and perhaps to have a few heroic alpine moments himself. He joined Mark for 2 weeks, spent largely in France but with a brief sojourn into Switzerland.

Other Recent Trips

With some blustery weather in the high peaks, we started our first day with a rock climb in the Aiguilles Rouges. This view shows the Aiguille de l'Index, the rock peak on the right, looking across the Chamonix valley to cloud-covered Mont Blanc.


Chris on "Fraise des Boâtchs" a fun 5-pitch route on the Grande Floria.


On our second day, we headed up to higher altitudes with the goal of climbing the Chèré Couloir on the North Face Triangle of Mont Blanc du Tacul. But other climbers had the same idea, and with too many folks in this narrow ice runnel, we decided to go elsewhere. Chris leads off, postholing to the base of Point Lachenal.


The first summit of the Traverse of the Pointes Lachenal. Another climber finishes the initial ice slope.


Climbers approaching the second, and higher, summit. To avoid the crowds, we took a slightly harder than normal line up the rock, just on the very left edge of the photo.


After our climb of the Lachenal we returned to the Aiguille du Midi lift via the classic and fun Arête des Cosmiques. While on the route, a sérac on the NW Face of Mont Blanc du Tacul (shown here) collapsed and the debris came right the popular normal route. One climber was killed and several others injured. It was sobering to see the extent of the run out zone.


Dodging in and out of a funky weather forecast, we made a quick dash to the Berner Oberland with our sights on the Schreckhorn. Here, Chris hikes into the hut the the peaks just north of the Finsteraarhorn as a backdrop.


The Schreckhorn hut with the peak after which it is named behind.


Sunset from the hut. The Eiger is the peak on the left. Grindelwald lies down in the valley below. The weather forecast was a bit dubious, but we hoped for the best.


Despite the forecast for cloud buildup in the course of the day, the clear skies held just long enough for us to get up the peak and down to the hut before it started raining. Here, Chris tries to get a bit out of the strong wind on the summit of the Schreckhorn.


Climbers descending from near the "Shoulder" on the Schreckhorn. The Finsteraarhorn is the impressive large peak behind.


We hiked out the following day in intermittent rain. But the wild-flowers were lovely. Campanule alpestre.


And the wild-life was also rather interesting. With the rainy weather, "herds" of salamanders wandered out onto the trail. We had to watch our feet to avoid squishing them underfoot.


Back in Chamonix, we took a much-needed rest and rain day or two. When the forecast again looked auspicious, we planned on an ascent of the Charmoz-Grepon Traverse, a super-classic in the Chamonix Aiguilles. Here, Chris waits for the cable car lift.


Looking up rather steeply at the Charmoz, on the left, and the Grepon.


For this climb, one would normally stay at the Plan de l'Aiguille hut. But as the hut was undergoing renovation, we bivouacked under the peak on a comfortable moraine. When is a bivouac a camp? We decided that what we were doing was really camp-whacking. With tall cans of Foster's beer and cheese burgers for dinner we were quite comfortable indeed.


Sunset on the rocks of the Charmoz from our "camp-whack".


Chris climbing on the Grands Charmoz. With a bit of snow on the route, we found we were moving a bit too slowly to complete the entire traverse and elected to settle for the Charmoz only. We rappelled from the summit.


On our last day, we decided to "go for it" and in spite of the rather nasty weather, took the Aiguille du Midi lift up, and walked over to the base of the Chèré Couloir. As it turned out, it was a great day to do this sometimes too popular route. The cold temperature and the howling gale not only kept rocks and such well-frozen in place, but kept other climbers away as well.

Here, we suit up to do battle with the nasty weather that awaits us on the other side of the tunnel.


Chris looking slightly frosted at the base of the route.


Mark and Chris, back at the lift station after a jolly "riming" on the walk up the ridge leading to the telepherique.

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