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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mont Blanc

Brian and our friend Chris (the officiant at our wedding) went to Mont Blanc for 8 days with the plan to climb the highest peak in Europe (and later I found out one of the most deadliest in the world!). They arrived in Geneva and took a shuttle to Chamonix, France which would be their base during the trip. They signed up for a guided trek – it would be a small group of 10 people with 4-5 guides for the final summit.

The first 3 days were spent hiking up and staying on the glacier at the base of Mont Blanc. They stayed here for 3 days at 10,000 ft to acclimate to the air pressure, and they got some great hikes in as well. They got to use ice picks and cramp-ons for their boots, and ran in to a few crevices that ran so many meters down into the glacier, you couldn’t see where they ended. After 3 days they returned to base camp to restock on food and water, and prepare to summit Mont Blanc.

In case you haven’t heard – this summer has been particularly hot for continental Europe. They have experienced extremely hot temperatures for most of the summer season. This has resulted in many of the snowy peaks in the Alps melting a lot more and quicker than they normally do. On the afternoon that they hiked to their final base camp, where they would leave from before dawn the next morning to make the final ascent, word of disaster reached the guides. The rapidly melting snow from the peak of the mountain was causing disruptive and dangerous rock slides, and created unpredictable circumstances for a critical part of the hike that was necessary to cross when both going up and coming down the mountain. Some hikers had been injured just hours before the guys reached the mountain hut by these falling rocks. Brian and Chris took one look at the situation and decided not to summit Mont Blanc. The guides huddled together to make a final call for the whole group – and called off the summit.

Even though they were disappointed, being safe was more important than making it to the top. The next morning, instead of rising early to summit Mont Blanc, they boarded a shuttle bus heading for Italy, where the hiked the tallest peak in Italy. At least they had some amazing views of Mont Blanc from the mountain in Italy. All in all the guys had a great time – and while it wasn’t a relaxing vacation by any means, they had some unforgettable experiences. They ended the trip by spending a couple of days of down time in Chamonix, letting their tired muscles heals and filling up on French food and chocolate.


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