Posted by: sweclimber | August 2, 2011

Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m)

We’re back in our apartment in Chamonix Sud after a sucessfull ascent of Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m).


Jonna tells the story:

We had set up our tent at the plateau beneath Aiguille du Midi. On the night of departure the alarm was set at 1.15 am, but I had a severe headache and felt sick (common symptoms of altitude sickness) so we re-set the alarm at 2.00 am. As we were ready to leave I got sick and vomited, but I decided to join Per at least to the first steep part of the mountain. We started at 3.00 am and set after a long row of other climbers, most of them on their way to Mont Blanc. All we could see in the night was a chain of headlights moving slowly up on the mountain, and later the lights from Chamonix far down in the valley.

On the way up we met other climbers coming down, due to mountain sickness and/or exhaustion. I vomited more on the way up, but strangely my legs felt strong so I decided to go on. Our pace was slow but steady, and after hard work and many pauses we finally approached the ridge leading to the summit. The sky on the horizon turned from black to grey, then finally red, as the sun began to rise. We had a magnificent view of Aiguille du Midi, the plateau with the tents and the surrounding mountains. At the summit ridge we could only take a few steps at a time, and the way up to the final rock climb to the summit seemed to take forever. Finally at the base of the rock – a long break and then Per lead up the first part, an easy mixed climb but still somewhat risky due to tiredness. Per continued to the summit and a few minutes later we both stood by the summit cross, tired but happy. It was a perfect day and a truly wonderful view, we could see the characteristic silhouette of Matterhorn on the horizon. We had the summit to ourselves for a long time, but in a while other climbers were approaching on the ridge.

Going down was of course easier, but very hard on the knees. At first the warmth of the sun felt like a blessing but soon it began to feel like a curse. The climbers we met had a painful struggle in the heat, climbing slowly one step at the time toward the summit. At the final slope down to the plateau I started feeling a little lack of energy; I hadn’t eaten anything on the whole climb. I had tried to drink a few sips of water every now and then, but I vomited it up again after a while.

Finally back at the tent about 11.00 am– my head barely hit the tent floor before I was asleep. Per woke me about an hour and a half later, it was time to pack up. After a few more vomits from my part we were packed and ready to go up the slope, back to the narrow and steep ridge up to Aiguille du Midi. From the plateau and the tent up to Aiguille du Midi there’s about 350 metres of altitude. We moved like zombies, as did most of the other climbers on their way back. It was almost comical to see ourselves, the returning climbers – some even too tired to reply to the friendly “bonjour” of climbers going down.

The first part of the ridge to Aiguille du Midi went fine, but on the final 15 meter long and narrow part – with a steep drop on each side – some 10-15 climbers decided to set off from the station and pass us. I was in no mood to balance passed these climbers on the ridge, so I kneeled on the ridge and let them step down on the dropping slope to pass us. A few of them were big Russian ladies who acted like they had never used a pair of crampons before; one of them got tangled up in our rope with her crampon! Then finally a few steps more and – we had made it!

My feelings after the climb are happiness to have shared this wonderful experience with Per, and surprise that I made it in spite of my altitude sickness. I will forever remember this adventure.

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