Friday, 1 February 2013

Day 7: The last day on the ice, E Tutto Relativo and the return of Chamonix

Hotel La Barme, I really love It here. I think the staff are wonderful and some of the people I've met here have been so nice. I love that about the climbing community, it's full of the best people to surround yourself with. If only I could stay longer but I have to say farewell Today. I wish I had gotten everyone's name and that I could keep in touch with certain individuals. I can only hope that we meet again sometime, sooner rather than later I'm sure we will see each other randomly on the ice.

An earlier start today for breakfast, thank goodness I had packed my bag last night as I found it difficult to focus on my mere 7.5 hours sleep... What's happening to me? Over breakfast we discussed the days itinerary and decided to get up and out to the route early to avoid being caught in queues when we have a return to Chamonix afterwards. The weather report stated some light snow and colder temperatures so at least our ice wouldn't disintegrate in the warm sunshine today.

Our route today is the elegantly named E Tutto Relativo. (I just love that name, it rolls off the tongue so beautifully and it's so true) It is going to be a popular route today as a few of the guys in the hotel were on it yesterday and stated that it is in good condition right now (the ice was fat apparently). I looked up some information on the route and was a little nervous about some of the comments about it, especially the 3rd pitch which has scared a few people away in the past. No matter, it's my last day I thought and I'm ready for the challenge, I'll give it my best shot for sure. No point ending the week with a half hearted effort.

Pitch 1 was quite nicely angled, the axe and feet placements were really good and the whole climb just felt really fluid. As I reached the top of the pitch it started to lightly snow, there goes my straight hair I thought. Not that the helmet didn't ruin that anyway.

Pitch 2 begins with a snow slope up to a short section of low angled ice into a little corner, another relatively simple climb, good feet and axe placements with a nice warm up to what looked to be the crux of the route...

Pitch 3, now this was going to be difficult. Standing in my little cave, protected from the snow which was falling heavier now and from seeing the real beast of a climb that was to come, I felt a little nervous about how difficult it looked up close. Andy led the pitch and Ben followed, next it was my turn. I knew from Bens climb that it as going to be a difficult one but I'd give it my best. The beginning of the climb looked difficult as i had to traverse around a bulging bit of ice before even getting to the vertical part, as it turned out this part was really nice and easy. As I removed the 1 ice screw, I eyed up my challenge and bit did it look super steep. I worked my way up as best I could but feeling some pressure from the newly arrived climbers below who, by their shouts of venga, were clearly in a hurry to get out of the heavy snow. About halfway up, struggling with an ice screw, even though I had a solid axe placement, I felt that horrible feeling... with a little girly scream I, off I came and when I finally came to a halt, I was way past where I started on the route. Andy, sensing that I was not loving my big fall, came to the edge to give me some moral support which really really helped me. So, under his instruction, I took advantage of the rest and then I took a deep breath and got back on the route. This time, I felt much more confident and I don't know how, but it felt like a much easier climb. Maybe it was the speed of which I ran up it the 2nd try that made all the difference. When I reached the top, it was heaven and I felt amazing to have completed the route. My last climb was apparently really good too, so a massive thanks to Andy for the moral support, without it I think I could have been beaten by that pitch.

Abseiling back down was just so much fun after such a hard route and so quick which, in all the heavy snow and with how soaked through we all were, was a blessing. We trudged back down the snow slope and back to Village du Cogne for some lunch and well deserved caffeine before our next part of the adventure... The drive back to Chamonix.

Cogne, what a place. If you are an ice climber and haven't been there, you have to work it out and get yourself there. What an amazing charming place. Filled with some great people, lots and lots of routes to choose from. I'm already planning to come back, wish it could be tomorrow but I'm patient and determined so I can wait longer... Just about.

It's good to be back in chamonix though, I do love this place. The hotel la chaumiere is such a lovely place, Nice staff here too.
Andy met with his new ice climbing participants tonight and we all had dinner together. Lovely people, they'll have such a wonderful time. I'm so jealous. I wish I was climbing with them. A week is just not long enough, next year I might just do 2.

S xx

No comments:

Post a Comment