Daily Archives: September 30, 2008

Landscape: Aiguilles des Chamois

My camera went MIA for a few weeks, but it turned up in a friend’s car—still stocked with photos and good memories with my recent visit to Chamonix, France. Most people who go to Chamonix to climb end up doing so on the Mont Blanc side of the valley. But the opposite side—the Aiguilles Rouges side—is also amazing and infinitely stocked with climbing objectives. My friend Andy and I headed up to the area to climb a series of peaks called the Aiguilles des Chamois (literal translation: “needles of the chamois,” chamois being deer-like alpine creatures). We wanted to climb to the fifth tour, pictured at right as the prominent pointy peak in front of the more often climbed Aiguille de la Perseverance (needle of perseverance, no kidding; in the sun here). As my cool NYC sister was in town, we all took the telecabine up together for the hike in; she made the descent later that eve, and Andy and I camped out at our bivy near an alpine lake above Lac Blanc.

The hike in was misty, gray, and we were worried a bit about the weather, but it cleared up enough in the morning to make a good climbing day. The climb was an all-day venture, with two nice rock pitches straight off the ground. Some slabby bolted pitches followed, and then we were out on a traverse for a good bit, linking up the towers.

I led through an unstable couloir to the final tower, which had two nice pitches to the top. Andy complained about the cold while I took my time leading to the summit, trying (unsuccessfully) not to kick off any loose rock. We rappelled off into a boulder field and walked back to our camp, at which point Andy decided he wanted to get back to the valley to work. Being on vacation, I decided to stay and enjoy the night out. After he was gone, I jumped into the lake beside our camp and sat out on a rock in my underwear until the sun went behind the peaks.

Andy missed out on the good night views, and the morning ones, too. I drank tea as alpenglow colored the Mont Blanc massif pink…

…and woke to see these amazing sun-lit clouds spread across the morning sky.