Le Tour - A solid start to the Alpine Season

At the start of this month I arrived in Chamonix, the birthplace of Alpinism. We immediately set about trying to get acclimitized and headed up to the Albert Premier hut which had just opened for the summer season.

Aig. du Tour

Our first objective was the Arete du Table on the Aiguille du Tour (3540m). An enjoyable mixed ridge that gets its name from the impressive 'table' that has formed from rockfall. It was recommended to us as a good place to start our trip and we weren't dissapointed.

Dave on the Table

The snow conditions were poor and we had to improvise a route onto the ridge proper. Dave tried to lead a hard corner before skirting round the side and we encountered good dry rock conditions up high.

Looking back on the Arete du Table

The weather had been a bit unsettled without being all that bad. We really wanted to have a go at the Migot spur on the magnificent Aiguille du Chardonnet (3824m) so headed back up to the albert premier for a couple of nights. The first day the forecast was poorer so we went up to look at a rock route on the Aiguille Purtscheller (3478m). 

Dave on the arete with the Mont Blanc massif behind

We arrived too early and it was far too cold and windy for technical rock climbing. We cut our losses and headed to the far side of the glacier du Tour for a closer look at the Chardonnet. 

The Aiguille du Chardonnet

Back at the hut we made our plans to leave early next morning and went to sleep in the afternoon. We woke at tea time to heavy rain and began to reassess. Eventually we decided against the Migot despite other parties still planning for it. We would instead have a long lie and go back to the south ridge of the Purtscheller in the hope of finding better climbing conditions.

Sorting gear at the hut

Arriving off the glacier to a sun bathed rock route gave us confidence that despite us both wanting to go for the Migot, which is a snow/mixed face route, we had made the right call. Seeing avalanches coming down the face and reports of deep snow by those who went also confirmed this.

Me on the first pitch

Dave on the south ridge of the Purtscheller

I led the first pitch, taking a crack and overhanging corner direct. Excellent hard climbing that provided evidence that I was reasonabily acclimtised already. Dave lead through up a corner to a tricky slab on an arete. The next pitch was a series of traditional chimneys which I enjoyed greatly. Dave got the final superb pitch up to the summit. A few abseils off the other side and we were back on the glacier again.

Abandoning our plans for the Chardonnet wasn't easy but with hindsight was for sure the right call. The Purtscheller turned out to be a varied route on immacculate rock in perfect conditon. The right choice for sure.

The Grand Combin


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