2009 – Mont Blanc

IN THE HEART OF THE ALPS / MONT BLANC 2009

In 2009, I (Per Jerberyd) and my friend Kenth Rehn travelled to Chamonix for two weeks. Our goal was to climb the highest Alp of all Alps: Mont Blanc.

This blog was published on my old site and the updates where sent home to Jonna by SMS and MMS. She did all the updates. Start reading from the bottom of the page to read in in chronological order.

2009-09-18
FINAL THOUGHTS

I Have now been at home for five days and Mont Blanc already seem like a distant memory.

We failed – on what was supposed to be an easy task. The weather was fine, we were OK acclimatised and our spirits on top. What happened were that above the Gouter hut we had a small incident when kenth dropped his water bottle. It went down the slope – into a crevasse. We made a small search for the bottle before we gave up. After this, Kenth got tired quite fast, often taking shorter breaks. Just before the col up to the big Gouter Plateu, Kenth sat down, very tired. Then I realized we would never make it. He finally got up and we slowly continued to the Vallot hut where he more or less collapsed. From here I could perhaps have continued alone or followed with someone else to the summit. I always had in mind that I never would forget myself if something happened to Kenth on the way down if I hadn’t been there – so we stuck together. What made Kenth collapse I don’t know. He said he felt very Ill, hyperventilated and felt utterly weak. Perhaps a combination of the height and that he hadn’t trained at all before this trip.

What have I learned from this trip? Not much really. I never got a real chance for the summit. I belive that if I return alone next time I’ll put a totally different approach to this mountain. I would make sure I am very well acclimatised and the weather resonable stable, and then climb Mont Blanc directly in one go from the end station of the TMB Tramway. If I need a rest I would take some shorter break in the Gouter or Tete Rousse huts on the way down.

The more likely scenario is that I’m not alone and then it all depends on if we have tents, bivvy gear or not. We’ll see…

Next year is hard to plan for right now since Jonna and I is to have a baby again. Perhaps I get the chance for a two week trip in august; first acclimatise on Mont Blanc and then go directly to Liongrat on Matterhorn for a third attempt. /Per

Mont Blanc  2009_09_18 - The summit of Mont Blanc
2009-09-10

BACK TO CHAM

“We headed back to Cham today. A bit sad not to have topped out. Perhaps we’ll try to climb some rock climbing route on Saturday if the weather permits. /Per”

Mont Blanc  2009_09_10 - Per on the way down
2009-09-09
BACK IN BC

Today’s update from Per and Kenth: “We didn’t make it. We started as planned by leaving our tent at midnight and headed up to the Gouter hut. Everything went as planned, we found the path and the crossing of Grand Couloir also passed smoothly. Above the Gouter hut, Kenth suddenly got ill, wanting to vomit and feeling weak. He slowly pushed himself to get going until he stopped at the Vallot hut, unable to continue. This is the same symtom he got on Breithorn in 2002. I could have continued alone but the strong wind felt unconfortable, perhaps making a solo climb dangerous. So we failed… But safe back at BC. /Per”

Mont Blanc  2009_09_09 - Kenth crosses Grand Couloir on the way down
2009-09-08

CHANGE OF PLANS

Several upates came today from Per and Kenth, the first one in the morning and the last in the afternoon. They had heard that one climber was hit by a rock while crossing the Grand Couloir, but was able to continue his climb. Another climber was reported to have broken his leg, unclear though exactly what had happened.

First update, 08:20: “Changed plans. There were massive rock-falls down Grand Couloir through the entire night and still continuing now during the morning. The thumblings lasted long, perhaps a minute or longer. This is the most deadly place in the mountains worldwide. It holds several nicknames, for example Death Gully and Bowling Alley. Both Kenth and I agree that we don’t want to climb with heavy 20 kg backpacks in such conditions. Instead we plan to make a single push from our tent at Tete Rousse to the summit and back. We’re thinking of starting at 6 pm tonight and push on through the night. Plans may change again. We’ll see… Right now we bid our time in the tent, watching peaple cross the “Bowling Alley”, running or walking fast. /Per”

Last update, 16:01: “Changed plans again, we will leave at midnight together with a German guy who has a tent close to ours. I feel tired but motivated to get going. We have tested our oxygen-blood levels today. Kenth has slightly better readings than me, just over 90%, I have 88%. /Per”

2009-09-07
BC TETE ROUSSE

Per and Kenth left for Mont Blanc this morning, but ran into difficulties at the train station. They wanted to buy tickets, but as neither of them speak French it was easier said than done. Finally they got on the train, tickets in hand, but it turned out they had been given tickets to two separate destinations! Finally they managed to sort everything out and arrived in Tete Rousse. The weather is perfect today and according to the forecast it will stay more or less the same until Friday.

An update from Per and Kenth’s tent at Tete Rousse: “We arrived to Tete Rousse after a three hours’ walk from Le Nid d’Agile. Tomorrow we’re heading up the rotten rock-wall to the Gouter hut. On the way we have to cross the notorious Grand Couloir. /Per”

Mont Blanc  2009_09_07 - Grand Couloir with the Gouter hut above
2009-09-06

READY FOR MONT BLANC

According to a report by phone, Per and Kenth are back in their appartment in Chamonix after a tough night at Col du Midi, at least for Per. He had headache and felt sick from altitude, even a short walk from the tent to the cabin was an effort. But in the morning they felt better, which indicates that they are beginning to acclimatize. Their plan is to leave for Mont Blanc tomorrow and summit on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on weather conditions.

The latest update from today says: “We didn´t climb Tacul today as planned. I was sick from the altitude and felt too weak and ill to make an attempt. It felt bad since the weather was perfect with a clear sky, full moon and little wind. Tomorrow we´re heading for Mont Blanc and the Gouter route if the weather permits. Hopefully our stay at Col du Midi (3500 m) was enough to make us cope with the altitude of Mont Blanc/Per”

Mont Blanc  2009_09_06 - Cliff above Col du Midi. Note the rock climbers
2009-09-05

FINALLY AT ALTITUDE

“The weather finally got better, and the Midi cable-car opened. We’re now at Col du Midi in our tent. I have headache and feel ill due to the altitude. Kenth has no problems and feels strong. Tomorrow we’ll try to climb Tacul, the alarm is set on 3 am. /Per”

Mont Blanc  2009_09_05 - At Col du Midi, accompanied by other climbers and their tents
2009-09-04

CHAMONIX

“We had a boring day at Cham today. The weather was as bad as the forecast promised. We spent the day shopping some climbing gear. Kenth bought a 30 m Beal rope and some slings while I shopped gas for our stove. Hopefully we´ll head up to Col de Midi tomorrow and bivouac. We have already lost two days from our tight schedule. Climbing Mont Blanc seems to be hard if the weather doesn´t change for the better. /Per”

Mont Blanc  2009_09_04 - Ropes for sale at Snell Sport
2009-09-03

ARRIVAL IN CHAMONIX

Per and Kenth left early yesterday morning, packing and preparing up until the last minute, only getting a few hours of sleep before departure. They arrived in Chamonix without any problems but were welcomed by bad weather. Still, they were happy to finally be there. Today’s update from Chamonix:

“Today we were supposed to get acclimatised to the altitude at Aiguille du Midi, (3842 meters) the top of the cable car. However, high winds stopped the cable-car at Plan de l’Aiguille at only 2317 meters. We spent the day there hiking up to the start of the glacier. We hope this gave us some sort of help getting familiar to the altitude. Tomorrow the weather will be even worse and to somewhat stick to our plan, we’ll have to climb Tacul this weekend without spending time at higher altitude prior to the ascent. Not fun or optimal /Per”

Per & Kenth

Mont Blanc  Mont Blanc  2009_09_02 - View from our apartment
2009-09-01

ONLY HOURS LEFT

Sad news… Pierre was unable to come along due to problem with his work. Not fun for him and neither for us. Pierre were our strongest team member

Yesterday evening Kenth arrived to Stockholm. He went to town today to buy some new gear. This evening we packed the stuff and had a glacier cravesse rescue session to freshen up our skills. Tomorrow morning we’re heading for Arlanda and the flight to Geneva.

Mont Blanc 2009_09_01 - Training Crevasse Rescue


2009-08-07

THREE ½ WEEK LEFT BEFORE DEPARTURE

It’s just three and a half week left until our depature for Chamonix and Mont Blanc. right now I feel strong! I’ve stayed healthy and have trained well on a regular basis during the past months with running, power walks, weight lifting and ofcourse climbing.

My old climbing partner Kenth Rehn has decided he will come along as well. Seven years ago we stayed together in Chamonix, wanting to climb Mont Blanc the normal route, but thre Goûter hut were fully booked (as always) and the Maudit Face were avalance-prone that made that route unsafe. This time we’ll bring tents to be independent of staying in huts.

Now I just hope the swine-flu will stay away and that I can keep on training. If the mountain is in good condition and the weather resonable OK, we’ll have a huge chance for success! Nowdays, 20 000 people tries to climb Mont Blanc each year. During weekend under the high season, the rescue service flies an average of 12 missions, mostly directed towards people in trouble on one of the normal routes of Mont Blanc. So danger exists and we will take care.

Mont Blanc from above. Photo by Jonna Jerberyd

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