Saturday, 29 March 2014

Vallee Blanche

Yesterday was a gloriously sunny day and we all set off for the Vallee Blanche (except Tracey who did not want to do it and Chris who had gone home the previous day).  Unfortunately there was a problem with one of the top cable cars so there was a delay in our getting up the mountain so we had to hang around for about an hour and a half.  Still it was worth it when we got up there.
After we had walked down the arrete the guides put us in two groups, one doing the classic route and the other the Grand Rognon (there is a big rock sticking up in the glacier which is supposed to look like a kidney).  We were in the latter group.  We had no untracked powder and some of the snow was wind crust but we had a great ski down.  We had one rather gripping coulour where the guide said there was ice on one side and rocks on the other and we should go down the middle.  The inclination is to head immediately for the rocks!  I got down it by shouting at myself.
 We all met up for a picnic lunch on the glacier.   4 opted to ski all the way down which the guide said could be done but involved several places where you had to take your skis off and walk.   I've done that and it isn't a great deal of fun.   The rest of us walked up the stairs.  Every year the glacier recedes and more steps have to be added to climb up to the station.  When we first skied the VB we herringboned up the moraine to ski down the track to Chamonix (they didn't run the railway then in the winter).  Now it's about a 20 minute walk out before you get to the track.  It's alarming how much the glacier has receded since we first skied the VB.
There were two sit skiers coming down the VB with helpers.  One of them was just ahead of me on the stairs at the end of the run.  He had about 6 men taking turns in carrying him up the stairs.  It looked like seriously hard work.
Anyway here is a photo of us all after the picnic:  Back row: Sebastien (guide) Sam, Emma, Dave, little Emma, me, Frank (guide), John and Tim    Second Row: Megan, Jonny and Hannah  Front Row:   Sarah P, Santa and Lara.

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