Monday, August 29, 2011
With world champs over and some time to spare, we hitched a ride with some fellow orienteers to the well known climbing town of Chamonix. The Mont Blanc massive loomed enticingly over us on our lazy day off so the next day we scraped together some gear(it is illegal to hire out ropes in france apparently though so we had to go without ), and some advice (which varied wildly )
Conveniently you can catch a cable car from bellevue, just down the valley from Chamonix, then rail up to 2300m,saving some climb. From there it was a scramble up a steep rocky ridge to the Gouter hut,with only one dangerous part,the Grand Couloir. This fires rocks down at a rather rapid rate,and requires a quick passage. I was mortified that some of the french climbers didn't think a helmet was necessary here, who were in turn mortified that we weren't roped. The hut was an interesting experience which included a delicious dinner and a short poor sleep (with 3800m altitude and generous amounts of cheese dreams become stranger!). Breakfast was at 2am, and we trudged off up the snow slope by torchlight to the dom du Gouter, the few crevasses large but open and avoidable. Further up the mountain the weather was getting dodgy, with cloud zooming past at about 70kph and bringing flurries of snow. It started to get pretty cold, especially as it is not easy to move very fast at 4500m. The parties ahead of us turned back and so did we, sheltering long enough in the emergency shelter till first light to get amazing views over les Aguilles and the surrounding glaciers and mountains. Great feeling crunching around on snow and looking down at the world at sunrise.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Today we started at 2500metres from the Vorab cable car station. Middling results but at least Penny is recovered from her wasp stings.
The race started on the edge of a glacier and slowly descended through progressively more grassy terraces with lots of tarns, snow patches and rock detail.
We have a rest day tomorrow then three more days of O before we head to France for the world champs.
Thoughts on Switzerland, expensive, conservative, borderline unfriendly. Quite pretty of course. But what sort of place charges you 5 dollars to swim in a lake. We certainly have more freedom in Aotearoa.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Today was the second day of Swiss O week. We started high on the hills above Laax. It took us a gondola, a chair lift and a 40 minute walk just to get to the start.
It wasn't a good day for Penny and I. Penny pulled out as she is still recovering from some nasty wasp stings from yesterday. I had a very good run but was disqualified after punching one wrong control.
Tomorrow we are heading even further up the mountain so there is plenty of room for redemption.