Monday, 8 August 2011
Monday 8 August 2011 - The Haute Route - Day 1 - Balme to Refuge Albert Premier
A leisurely start saw us heading off to le Tour for the Balme cablecar.
Kit inspection had comprised of Dave lifting each rucksack and accepting the owner's assurance that he could carry the weight he had loaded. Dave's own pack was by far the lightest. "What have I forgotten?" he worried, rummaging in an attempt to identify items left behind. "Nothing" he concluded - he doesn't carry a camera or much food or many other 'luxuries' that the rest of us deem to be 'essential'. He handed me and Andy the two ropes we will be using for glacier travel. I decided to discard my walking poles on the basis that they will hardly be needed.
The cablecar and chairlift took us up to about 2200 metres, from where a short walk led to this refuge, a popular place with climbers, aspirant 'alpinistes' and day walkers. It was built by the Belgian Alpine Club after the death of King Albert 1, a keen mountaineer, in a climbing accident.
The day was overcast. A rainbow shone brightly across the valley as we started walking. Waterproofs were deployed. We watched as huge house-sized chunks of ice (seracs) detached themselves from the Glacier du Tour. Our objective was reached soon after noon. Whilst the others tucked into their old baguettes, Dave and I splashed out on 'les omelettes complète'. A good choice.
The afternoon ropework training was completed, due to rain and snow outside, in a room in the Refuge. We are now experts at a variety of climbing knots.
Beers will follow shortly. We are currently relaxing up here at 2700 metres, high above Chamonix, with hot chocolates and the view shown above across the massive seracs of the Glacier du Tour. The trek proceeds in earnest tomorrow.
Hopefully the weather is improving.
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