Curt Warber climbing in the Mont Blanc Massif • August 9-12, 2007

Curt Warber concluded that the Alps really are not so far away when vacationing in southern France. So, taken a wee time away from his wife and bambino, he joined Mark for 4 days of climbing in the Chamonix area.

Curt's arrival coincided with the tail end of a monstrous storm, drenching all of the Alps, and depositing over a meter of fresh snow at higher altitudes. This was the kind of storm that comes along once every, oh, let's say 4 or 5 years (according to the Swiss Meteo experts). The worst of it hit the two days before we were scheduled to start climbing. Fortunately, in the final days of the storm, the winds shifted to a more northerly quadrant. And, as Chamoniards know, this means sun (or at least less rain) in Italy!

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This is day one. While the main Alpine chain remained socked in, with rain and other unpleasantries in the Chamonix Valley, we escaped to Italy, with warm weather and dry rock. Here Curt climbs the clean gneiss of "Doctor Jimmy", not far from Aosta.


The last pitch. Actually, this fine bit of climbing belongs on a route to the left of ours. But it looked too tempting to miss. Though it looks more like a bolted parking lot, the bit where the rope disappears hides some nearly vertical tricky climbing.


On day two the storm finally passed. Knowing there was quite a bit of new snow in the hills we had to find a route that had virtually no avalanche hazard potential, and was doable with lots of white stuff. The Traverse of the Crochues, in the Aiguilles Rouges fit the bill.

The Crochues is the fin on the right. The Traverse starts from the notch on the left, relatively easily reached, and more or less follows the skyline.


The view from near the notch in the aforementioned photo. Another party not far behind us. Here, we are looking across at the Aiguille du Chardonnet, among other things.


Curt exits the initial chimney, the first hard bit just above the notch. Interesting climbing when all snowed up.


A bit higher on the route.


Just past the summit as we begin our descent.


While we enjoyed the sunshine up on our climb, most of the valley was under a sea of cloud–one into which we eventually had to descend. Lac Blanc in the mist.


The following day, day three, we opted for the Arête des Cosmiques. The "approach" to this route involved riding the Aiguille du Midi cable car to its summit, then descending the narrow ridge in this photo. The Grandes Jorasses forms a fine backdrop.


Other climbers on the route. On this day, the climb was quite busy. With the bigger peaks still "out of condition" the Cosmiques seemed like a good idea to more folks than just ourselves.


On the Arête des Cosmiques.


We did manage to find an untracked variation which we had all to ourselves.


Curt puts "first tracks" down a snow gully as our little variation joins the normal way, and the crowds.


But with a bit of waiting we are able to finish the climb. Here, Curt prepares to do the final leg-over-the-railing move of the route.


On our last day, we climbed the Petite Aiguille Verte. In this photo the Petite rather blends in with the "big" Aiguille Verte. But if you can ignore the ice-capped summit behind you can appreciate the Petite.

The route we took climbs the left edge of the snow face to a small snowy saddle, then up and into the final rocks. The normal route, and our route of descent, is close to the right-hand skyline.


Just above the snow saddle.


Getting close to the final rocky section.


Only about 15 meters from the summit.


Final moves. You can see the building of the Grands Montets cable car, our approach vehicle.


After our descent we made a quick visit to the observation platform on the Grands Montets. The Aiguille d Chardonnet on the left and the Aiguille d'Argentière on the right.


Looking the other direction with Mont Blanc rising above the Chamonix valley.

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