Don and Sydney Coddington in the Alps • July 10 - 13, 2012

Kathy was joined by Don Coddington and his daughter Sydney, for her (Sydney's) first trip to the European Alps.

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Don and Sydney on the terrace of the Cosmiques hut.


We began by riding the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi, and descending the infamous ridge to the glacier.


Our goal was to get a bit of experience cramponing on steep snow and ice, and also a bit of fun, on the Pointes Lachenal, the ridge in the left of this photo.


A couple other climbers heading off on the glacier. The Grandes Jorasses in the background.


About halfway along the ridge traverse, with the east face of the Mont Blanc du Tacul in the background.


From the point reached in the last photo, we had to descend a short steep rock wall, and as the weather was quickly deteriorating, we also descended the snow face back down to easier ground. Sydney kind of seems to like it!


High winds blew nasty weather in quite quickly. In the middle of this photo you can see the Cosmiques hut. We traversed the ridge to its left to reach it.


Clambering along the ridge to the hut.


Sydney pauses during a sun break, to check out the view to the Chamonix valley far below.


Approaching the hut, with the Aiguille du Midi behind.


The weather cleared toward sunset, allowing gorgeous views over toward Italy.


The following day the winds were very high in the mountains, so we went rock climbing! Rappelling from the top of the Gaillands cliff.


Sydney was keen to take a turn in the lead. Here she is, geared up and ready for take-off.


So far so good, she's almost to the top.


Sydney has her dad on belay.


Our last objective is the Gran Paradiso, seen in the background here. At 4061 meters, it is the highest peak wholly within Italy.


Leaving the Chabod hut shortly before first light, we had fantastic views once the sun was up. However the weather that's coming our way, though beautiful, looks a little inclement.


As we got higher the clouds engulfed the upper slopes and we moved into the brunt of the strong wind.


The exposed summit rock ridge was beginning to pick up frosty rime-ice in the freezing humid wind, but "nothing daunt and scarcely loathe" (Thurber? who said that?), Don and Sydney are game to reach the top.


Approaching the summit, we see it is quite busy up there. Just a few more yards to go now...


We found a nook (or a cranny) somewhat protected from the wind as we waited for the others to get their summit photos taken and free up the tiny top.


And now it's our turn! Hooray!


It's time to get moving again, and so we follow the others back along the ridge. Lucky thing the bad weather is keeping the crowds down!


A few more figures appearing in the fog as we head for home. What a blast!