Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mon voyage. Jour numéro douze. Le Brévent.

I go back to Genève today, but not until 16:00 so it gives me plenty of time for a hike.  I leave from Chamonix Sud station and I didn't want to waste half the day going back and forth to Servoz on a train that runs once an hour.  I was nervous about luggage storage because there is no official luggage storage in Chamonix but I decided to risk it and bring all of my stuff.  The first hotel I walked into said they would watch it for free, no problem.  Not everything has to be totally planned (I am pretending like I mean it).

I went to the other side of Chamonix (Glacier des Bossons is behind me). This téléphérique, just like Aiguille de midi, is broken up into two parts.  My plan (with the help of Tom with whom I am staying) was to ride all the way to le Brévent and then walk to the mid point at Planpraz, riding down from there.

Here we go, disappearing into the clouds.

This is the view, without clouds.

My coffee didn't have a view either.

Le Brévent station drops you off at an elevation of 2,525m.  I figured the clouds would clear as I started to descend.

Seeing this person with their gear did not make me wonder if this was the hike for me.  

I walked part way down the trail (which you can see is covered in hard, icy snow) before I panicked and walked back.  Then I told myself I was being a baby so turned back around and went for it.  

I didn't make it too much further before my brave face disappeared.  I heard English and asked nearby climbers what they thought of the trail.  They said that I shouldn't go down the ski path (the red route) because that is covered with snow and was very sketchy for them on the way up and involved some scrambling.  Instead I should take the orange route,  Col du Brévent, because it is easier and winds up in the same place.

This is the easier route.

This is the easy route?  Okay, so I see the path and can tell its well traveled so I decide that I can do it.  I went maybe three steps (literally walking one foot in front of the other because that is the size of the path and there are already footprints established in the snow) before I totally panicked and decided that I shouldn't be doing this at all.  The problem was that I couldn't turn around, I mean I couldn't see behind me and I just couldn't backtrack backwards in the icy snow because I had a hard enough time going forward.  I should mention that the entire steep decline is covered with snow and after 100 meters or so it completely drops off, and you see nothing.  So I stayed here for a few minutes, sweat accumulating at every hair follicle on my head.  I start thinking that no one knows I am here and that I am going to slip off the mountain and that is it because with one false move, I am for sure sliding down the mountain with no way to stop myself and will soon know what it looks like after 100 meters (yay me).  But I pulled it together thinking if I just stay here I am going to miss my bus so either I make it or I don't but I can't just live here on the side of the mountain, one foot in front of the other.  So I start vigorously running my fingers into the snow on my right side to make a hand hold and then I do this again a little further so I have two, and then using my hand holds I take a step, and I continue, hand hold, step, hand hold, step, hand hold, step, until my fingers were totally swollen and red and bruised, and I made it all the way across.  

That was back then, this is now.  There is an even bigger stretch.  But I already made it across, because of the young man on the left in black who saw me panicked on the side of the mountain.  I knew I couldn't go back, and I didn't know what to do because this stretch was much longer and my poor fingers couldn't do more digging, so he lent me one of his hiking poles.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much easier it was with a hiking pole to jab into the snow, creating another point of contact.  (It looks like the trail was covered with people but it was just at this point...a queue probably formed behind me after my multiple freak out sessions...)

The reason I do stuff like this...

And I suppose because of notes such as these that make it sound like a piece of cake.  No where was snow mentioned...

Okay, so this is the last large section of snow covered trail.  I put a green line on the path so you can see it.  You may think 'what is the big deal?'

Until you look down.
At least I could see the bottom.  All I could do is hope that I wouldn't just continue on, like a luger without a luge, around the bend to who knows where.
Oh, but my dear friend in black let me borrow one of his poles again.  I don't know how I would have done it without him.  He kept telling me, "its okay, its okay," and when he stopped I would say it to myself "its okay, its okay."  I think a mantra is helpful.  Well, never mind, mantras can be bad, like saying "I am going to die, I am going to die" can't be good.

This is the bend to...?

Mont Blanc.  This view doesn't get old.

And I didn't die, and that doesn't get old either.

Life is wonderful, isn't it?
And soil, who doesn't love soil?

And to think I didn't want to go paragliding because I thought that would be too scary... you just never know.  

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad I didn't read this while it was happening. I, too, am sweating and I'm just reading it. You are one very brave woman. I love that you blog so I know you survived. This is beyond crazy but breathtakingly beautiful.

    You certainly have stories to tell Brady. This one, while unnerving for the reader, was incredible.

    I, too, love soil.


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