A week in the alps

Next week I’m going to head over to Chamonix for a technical alpine mountaineering course by Alpine Guides. My friend Lauri will join me there as he could not go with some other friends at mid-summer. We climbed together at Kebnekaise two years ago and last year at Grossglockner. Both times on different ropes, though.

The course will focus on technical routes, i.e. more on the rock and ice than on the snow. The course will run from Monday to Friday with a short briefing session on the preceding Sunday. I’ll actually head over there already on Thursday morning, but to Switzerland and to the city of Basel where one of my friends from the last fall’s Nepal expedition lives. I’ll first spend a night there and late on Friday afternoon travel to Geneva airport and where I will meet Lauri. We’ll then take a shuttle bus to Chamonix and our bed and breakfast Ice & Orange.

We will then have almost two full days to do some climbing by ourselves. For our Saturday activity I’ve been looking at a route called Voie Burat-Perroux which tops out at Aiguille L’Index in the Aiguilles Rouges range. It is an eight pitch multi-climb (seven pitches in practice) bolted route on the east face. It should not be too difficult at a maximum grade of F5b and by combining some routes you can alter the crux to be from F5a  to F6a, so you have a nice range there to choose from.

Voie Brunat-Perroux topo

Hervé Thivierge Voie Brunat-Perroux topo in blue. The normal route is in red.

For Sunday we have a planned to do the Arête des Cosmiques which is more of an alpine climb. It starts at the Abri Simond hut and ends at the Aguille du Midi cable car station, which means it is a bit higher in the elevation. The route is also a bit more easier on the technical grade, which is understandable as you will be climbing it with boots instead of climbing shoes due to the snow sections and the glacier approach. The alpine grade for the climb is a bit disputed as it has been given a grade from PD to AD depending on the source.

The course schedule is composed so that on the first day we will do a multi-pitch climb also in the Aiguilles Rouges focusing on ropework, moving together and such. On the second day we’ll do a long alpine route like Papillons Arete or Mirroir D’Argentine. The latter, though, is in my opinion more like a classic multi-pitch rock climb rather than an alpine climb. The next three days will be spent doing climbs around the Mt Blanc range and the next two nights will be slept in the mountain huts. Possible climbs could be Aiguille D’Entrèves, Chèré Couloir or Dent du Géant. There are loads of options and most probably the decision is done right before the climb according to the weather and snow conditions. We’ll see where we will end up.

On Friday evening we’ll have an end briefing and the next day I will travel onward instead of heading home. I’ll catch a train to Paris where my wife will be waiting for me at her business history conference. We’ll then have a nice couple of days in the Paris to even out the strain from the week of climbing.

That’s my plan for the near future. After that, I don’t know yet. I have now been to a consultation of an ankle surgeon who said that we should do a local anesthesia on my injured ankle and then strain it. That should tell if that is the actual spot that causes the pain or not. Then, depending on the results of that test, it is likely that I’m up for a minor surgery where he will smoothen some rough spots on my broken cartilage and bone. That would then mean at least a few weeks of no training or much else activities either. Shame, but it is more important to get the ankle fixed for good. Though, it could well be that it won’t ever come as good as it used to be as the cartilage does not heal by itself. I’l just have to wait and see how things go.

MRI of my ankle

MRI of my ankle. The cartilage should be smooth and not have those bumps.

MRI of my ankle

Another MRI of my ankle. The cartilage should be smooth and the white area below that is swollen bone contution.

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