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Attacking the unconfined Mont Blanc: the expedition turns right into a nightmare

It's 6 a.m. My alarm didn’t ring however Sébastien, our rope companion, took care of getting us away from bed to the sound of "The attention of the tiger", the soundtrack of the movie Rocky. Huge chuckle within the residence. As a result of everyone knows what awaits us. A titanic battle in opposition to Mont Blanc. Saturday, we had skilled the concern of vacancy by climbing on the facet of the cliff. On Sunday, our guides confirmed us easy methods to connect crampons to our footwear and use an ice ax. However this Monday morning is the large day. And to be sincere, the leap into the unknown. We’re beginning our ascent from the roof of Europe.

There are 5 of us: most neophytes, besides Yann, our photographer, who has mountaineering pegged to the physique. I open the shutters and I really feel it, it received't be our day. Massive grey and white clouds cling to the valley reverse. It’s raining. Because of this at altitude, the snow falls with massive flakes. The long-awaited “climate window” to succeed in the Goûter refuge, the primary stage of our journey, appears to be closed in two turns. Within the barracks, smiles freeze, foreheads crease, apprehension could be learn on the faces. "I'm not main it extensive," says Julien, one in every of my 4 teammates. This father of two doesn’t cover his rising concern.

VIDEO. The unconfined Mont-Blanc

"It’s sophisticated to handle, as a result of it’s the first time that I’m going to place myself in bodily hazard. I can't wait to know which sauce we're going to be eaten at. Of all of us, Sébastien might be probably the most motivated. “I'm unsure what to anticipate, as a result of the guides put lots of strain on us the day earlier than, telling us that it might be very tough to get on. The legendary Style Corridor, I can't wait to be there. This very delicate snow hall, which it’s a must to take to succeed in the refuge, crosses a particularly steep slope. Some have renamed it loss of life row (!) As a result of many mountaineers have died. Victims of lethal snow slides or falling rocks. Personally, that is my obsession.

"Really feel the polar ambiance of the roof of Europe"

Sébastien already sees himself there and imagines going larger. "Even when we have now little or no likelihood of attaining it, my dream is to succeed in the summit ridges above the refuge and to expertise the polar ambiance of the roof of Europe. »Meticulously filling his bag, Stéphan, my childhood pal, is« in his bubble ». "Like earlier than an enormous bodily problem the place I don't wish to be polluted by ineffective info that would fear me. I closed the hatches. As a very good marathon runner, he is aware of that he should handle his efforts to succeed in our aim of the day. “That is the place the guides will assess us. I don't know the place we can be tonight, however I can't wait to get there. "

Ulrika, Seb and Julien, our three guides, gave us an appointment on the Mont Blanc tram station. A legendary prepare with picket benches whose route was traced at the start of the 20th century to succeed in the refuge of the eagle's nest. At a standstill throughout your complete confinement interval, it winds once more within the midst of coniferous forests and pastures, shocking in passing a hare put in on the tracks and hinds within the undergrowth. Thick fog greets us upon arrival. It's chilly. We start our climb to the Tête Rousse refuge on a rocky and slippery path. The burden of the ten kilo bag begins to weigh on the shoulders. After an hour, I'm already wanting breath.

Our eyes meet with my pal Juju. With out talking, our eyes say the identical factor: how exhausting! After which the state of affairs will get worse: snow seems. "Usually, it is a mountain climbing path," says Ulrika. There, the circumstances are winter and we’re attacking a mountain race ”. "It’s the first time that I’ve seen a lot snow this season in 5 years," provides Julien, one of many guides in Saint-Gervais. We have to "make our mark" in a layer of fifty centimeters of powder the place we sink nearly to the knee with every step. Exhausting.

"In sure locations, it’s higher to not slide, since you should not fall," warns Ulrika. I perceive {that a} single misstep would lead to a deadly fall. And I nonetheless haven't overcome my concern of vacancy once we take a dizzying passage. Seb, the information from Saint-Gervais, is true behind me. He distills his recommendation to me: "Safe your foot, push your ice ax down effectively, use the cable. "I’ve been strolling within the snow since I used to be a child however you haven't," Ulrika explains to me. For this reason it requires a lot focus. If you’re pressured, it will increase your fatigue by half. "

After three hours of intense effort, the Tête rousse refuge lastly seems. It’s midday and a layer of despair has fallen on us. As a result of we nonetheless must climb the needle of the snack, very uncovered to falling rocks. It’s nonetheless snowing and the vertical monster is watching us from its full top. My pal Julien sprawls on a bench, his head tucked into his shoulders. "I cease there," he breathes, overwhelmed. I perceive it a lot. Myself, I don't know if I’ve the power to proceed.

Conquer Mont Blanc in 6 episodes

1. Assault on the roof of Europe

2. Winter mode… in summer time!

3. A summit of difficulties

4. Topic to local weather change

5. Sure, it’s polluted right here

6. Her secrets and techniques, younger and outdated