Andy Latham with Kathy in the Mont Blanc Massif • August 30 - September 6, 2008

Andy Latham, the stalwart Kalamazoo, MI climber who has joined Kathy for at least one climbing trip every year for over 11 years now, came out again to the Alps this summer.
Other Recent Trips

Andy braves wintry conditions and a stiff arctic wind near the summit of the Gran Paradiso.

As often happens, we started with one plan and switched to another due to weather, conditions and various changes. Every plan is provisional. At any rate, we began in the Bernese Oberland, hoping to climb the Gross Fiescherhorn, seen here on the far right, from the window of the Monchsjoch hut in the evening light.


Turning back due to weather and conditions, we nevertheless had some good photographing weather.


Andy checks out the Wetterhorn and company in the early morning light.


Next up, back in the Chamonix area, was the Aiguille du Tour's "Table de Roc" spur. The route essentially follows the right-hand skyline in this photo. Those with very good eyes might be able to distinguish the improbably balanced "Table de Roc" very near the top, by the speck of daylight showing underneath it. The glacier here in typical late-season condition.


A bit of a murky, cloudy afternoon as we hiked up to the Albert Premier hut. The cloud columns moved apart to show us the bare ice seracs marching over a cliff below the hut, as nightfall approached.


Our summit morning was flawless and warm, as you can see. Andy negotiates the many rocky towers, while a German pair (our only companions on the route) weave among the same, behind us. A corner of the Rock Table is seen just below, in the gap between Andy and the others in this shot.


Coming down the home stretch, scrambling on rock like this is what makes this route so special.


We descended into Switzerland to spend the night at the warm and welcoming Trient hut. Late afternoon sun on the terrace makes it a pleasant spot for relaxing while the gear dries out.


We made a detour on our way back to town, to climb the "Petite Fourche". The peak in the background here is the Aiguille de Chardonnet.


A group of climbers approaches the summit of the Petite Fourche.


The top is a spectacular look-out over this eastern outpost of the Mont Blanc massif. The Aiguille de Chardonnet again in the background, as Andy readies to hop over this obstacle.


A pretty terrible forecast for the Chamonix area featuring heavy cloud, fog and high winds, had us searching the weather map for clearer conditions. The Gran Paradiso was supposed to be spared the worst of the coming storm, so we headed south over the border into Italy. Our approach hike to the Chabod hut (seen here) was quite cloudy, and a bitter wind blew well into the evening. But the hut was cozy and warm and we looked forward to better in the morning.


The following morning was indeed beautiful, as you can see here as Andy negotiates the labyrinth of the dry glacier approach. But the wind was fierce, cold and gusty as we gained altitude. We almost gave up, but the wind finally stabilized as we neared the summit, so we pushed on.


Where there's wind and freezing fog, there's rime ice build-up. The summit ridge was positively flocked and bristling with this stuff, very eerie and beautiful in the low morning light.


Our Lady of the Summit was also coated in white feathers. We enjoyed a rare moment of solitude on this busy summit, which saw plenty of climbers even on this challenging morning. Our timing was quite good.


Here are the clouds we descended back in to. Soon after we reached the car, it began to rain heavily.


But not for long! The next day was again gorgeous, this time without the bitter, pushing and shoving wind. A group of climbers poses for their group shot before descending the ridge off the Aiguille du Midi toward whatever adventures they have planned.


... And they're off. Looking from the Aiguille du Midi toward the East, at the Aiguilles de Chamonix in the foreground, and the Aiguille Verte behind.


Our objective was the ever-popular Cosmiques Arête! Andy keeping the ropes free about mid-way up the route, with the Grandes Jorasses sporting that new coat of ice and snow off in the distance.


Often a very crowded route, we had it nearly to ourselves on this day. The wintry conditions might have helped keep the crowds down. In any case we did share belay ledges and such with this climber and her partner, and she let me crawl practically inside her gaiters for this shot.


Nearing the top we were grateful for sunshine in the snowy, snowy couloir.


Voilà tout! And A Bientôt, at least for now.