Mark Tarby on the Vallée Blanche Traverse (sort of!) • July 15, 2012

Mark Tarby stopped off en route to a business trip in Germany to take in the Vallée Blanche traverse with Kathy. Expecting a relatively straight-forward and scenic trek across the high glacier, they were reminded of that theme song from Gilligan's Island: "five passengers that sailed that day for a threeee hour tooooour..." It turned out to be a bit longer and harder than expected! Hence the relatively few photos. But it was an adventure, and very beautiful.

Return to all recent trips


Kathy and Mark ready to roll at the top of the Aiguille du Midi. Notice the dry clothing and poised attitude.


This is how conditions looked upon arrival at the Aiguille du Midi top station, however the forecast called for improvement up high during the morning, and it looked like it was going to burn off....


We joined the other climbers milling and stalling, waiting for a decision to become obvious.


At last we decided to launch, as the sun started to break through. Mark heading down the ridge in wintry snow conditions.


A party follows us down the ridge. The wind was blowing fairly hard, but soon calmed down.


It did indeed "burn off", and the views over the heads of the low clouds, were haunting and mysterious.


The Grandes Jorasses and Dent du Géant rising above the clouds.


So off we went, and though the clouds did clear considerably, to make a long story short we did not have the visibility nor tracks to follow, that would have made the wander through the icefall safe enough. We turned back about halfway, and by the time we got back up to the Aiguille du Midi, conditions had turned to blizzard and white-out. Kathy stopped taking pictures during this half of the day, sorry!


Kathy did get out her damp camera for a last lens-fogged photo of a soaked climber, safe and sound and ready for a beer! Thanks Mark! And better luck next time.