Joe Ludwig in the Chamonix area • September 16 - 18, 2010

Joe Ludwig, who currently calls Houston, Texas his home, joined both Mark and Kathy for 3 days of climbing in September. Unfortunately, the weather was somewhat less than cooperative and plans for Mont Blanc had to be revised, mid-stream.

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For Joe's first day, and an introduction to climbing in the French Alps, Joe and Kathy climbed the Arete des Cosmiques. Recent snowfall frosted the route and required crampons the entire way. Though they had reasonable weather (wind was the only serious issue) the lenticular clouds over Mont Blanc behind heralded the arrival of another storm that night.


Scratching around in crampons was the order of the day.


In amongst the spires at the base of the crux pitch.


Joe moves smoothly up the steep wall of the hardest moves. Believe it or not, crampons make this section somewhat easier than bare boots.


In the final chimney.

That evening, the weather arrived as forecast with wind and new snow at higher elevations. However, the forecast also called for a slow clearing the following day. With a dash of optimism, Joe and Mark decided to try to get up to the Gouter hut on our second day, aiming to climb on the third. We did much of the approach but once we finally got above the clouds and could finally see the poor conditions above we decided that success was likely not in the cards. So we retreated back to the comforts of the valley that night. I have no photos from this day, as we were in cloud almost the entire time.


For Joe's last day, we set our sights on the Chèré Couloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul. With another forecast calling for intense snowfall starting mid-morning, we hoped we could squeeze it in. However, it was not to be. Several other parties on the route combined with falling new snow and the related spindrift avalanches forced an early retreat from only two pitches up. Oh well, the weather is bound to be better next time.