As outlined yesterday, today’s objective has been to establish us in good shape at the Tête Rousse Hut, the springboard for our summit attempt tomorrow. And we have achieved that.
The weather has been superb and after David explained the route we took the cable car from Les Houches to the Col de Bellevue.
Then the Tramway de Mont Blanc (TMB) from the col to Nid d’Aigle (the eagle’s nest) in brilliant sunshine. The views from the train back down to Chamonix as it progressively gained height were stupendous.
After the 20 minute ride, at about midday we arrived at Nid d’Aigle. It was a glorious cacophony of people bustling to get on the train to head back to the valley and people trying to get off the train with all the gear necessary to head to the higher ground. Some, like us, were destined for Mont Blanc but not all.
From Nid d’Aigle we were walking in the most glorious weather in stunning scenery for about 3 hours climbing up to the Tête Rousse Hut (3167m) where we will spend the night. The terrain was mixed snow and tock. It was steep in some places and fairly steep elsewhere.
Then it got more snow/ice than mixed. And more steep as we approached the hut, not actually as close as it looks, perched on the rocks to the right of this photo.
Beyond this slope it got really steep and with the heat the snow was melting. Several times one of my feet broke through the snow crust and I ended up with my whole leg down in wet snow. All the way. It was jolly uncomfortable and not a little chilly. But eventually we made it up to the ‘hut’. Time for a big grin.
The hut has been newly refurbished and the rooms are clean and not too crowded. Stephen and I are in the Fitz Roy room which sleeps 12. We are side by side on the top row. Cozy!
After settling in we repaired upstairs to the bar/dining room for some water and a can of Leffe beer. We’re worth it. But just the one! The second beer was something different.
Then, while we waited for dinner something magical happened. Someone from another group pulled a guitar from somewhere. He played and sang Oasis’s Wonderworld and a singsong started. You just have to be here to appreciate how unbelievable this atmosphere is. I’m almost lost for words. It then got even better. He played and sang Pink Floyd’s Wish you were here. And I do. I really do! This is amazing.
Dinner at 6:15 was really good. At our clean wooden table for 6, shared with another team of 3 climbers, we were served with a selection of cheeses and olives followed by a delicious roast pork with rice and steamed vegetables. Dessert was a choice of chocolate mousse, creme brûlée or a monster profiterole with a glazed caramel top. I had the latter and it was wonderful. I don’t normally do dessert but this is a special occasion.
Once dinner was finished we had to vacate the table for the second sitting but there was a spare table which we claimed. David and Stephen promptly engaged on a re-match of chess while I wrote to you. In normal circumstances we might be tempted to stay for a while in the hope the guitarist starts another session but we have to be a little sensible. We have to be up at 3:45 tomorrow morning for breakfast at 4:00 and a 5am departure. We want to leave early to enable an early summit and return to the Goûter Hut before this extraordinary weather turns the snow into mush again. The last 30 minutes this afternoon struggling up slush rather than crisp icy snow wasn’t too much fun.
But leaving that aside, I really wish you were here! Right now. To experience this for yourself. My words are so inadequate.
Anyway, that’s about it for today. Time for bed. It’s a big day tomorrow but I’ll leave you with the weather forecast for summit day. It doesn’t say ‘scorchio’ but in Alpine weather terms that is, actually, what it says. I won’t be in shorts at 5am but a summit with knees out remains on the cards.
We hope to be on the summit tomorrow by 1pm. I’ll let you know power willing as soon as we get to the Goûter Hut. Later in the day.