June 30, 2011

Impressions from Mont Blanc

T-Con Connelly

It's not everyday that I'm as wrong as I was yesterday. When Jen, Ross and I left the Cosmiques Hut yesterday for the summit of Mt. Blanc, sweet Mother Nature had just dumped a bunch of snow on the mountain and the wind and rain were still hammering. No one else was on the route and we were punching a slow and heavy track up the Tacul. I told my group there was 100% NO WAY we were going to summit the mountain, and I gave them the option of turning around and trying something smaller. They refused and opted to continue walking.

As we climbed, the snow got firmer and the skies cleared. By 7:30 am, we were on top of the Tacul under perfectly clear skies. It was getting late at this point so we decided that only the fastest members of the group could continue up. Everyone seemed fine with this decision and after a lengthy guide discussion that culminated in a vicious game of odds and evens, Jen and Ross continued up with their speedy group of four and I turned around with a group of two.

At 1:30 in the afternoon, the summit team reached the top and began their descent to the Tete Rousse Hut. It was a huge day and an awesome effort!

A team of climbers below the Tacul.

Leaving the summit of Mont. Blanc.

George and myself on the summit of Mt. Blanc a few days earlier.

Working through the Tacul on yesterdays climb.

Cool early morning light.

Like watching grass grow...

A step by step account of the ascent.

Ross displaying excellent team leadership.

Evening at the Cosmiques Hut.

June 26, 2011

More Chamonix

Descending from the Mt. Blanc du Tacul with early morning light.

Just got back from two day attempt on Mt. Blanc's NE Ridge for On Top. Unfortunatlely, we missed the summit due to high winds and a bunch of fresh snow, but we did manage to climb the Lachenal Traverse on Day 1 and the Arete de Cosmique on on Day 2.

Looking back at the Dent de Geant and some climbers on the rock spire half-way along the Lachenal Traverse.

Kunal V on the Lachenal Traverse with a wiley French guide hot on his heels.

Evening from the Cosmique Hut.

Early morning on Mt. Blanc du Tacul

This may look like the same photo as the first but there are a few differences. The Cosmique Arete is the left hand ridge leading up to the Aiguille du Midi.

June 21, 2011

Chamonix, Mt. Blanc, and the Arete de Cosmique

First sortie on the Aiguille du Midi.

Well it's been a busy few weeks since arriving in Chamonix in early June. Between finding a place, figuring out the terrain and fretting over a ridiculous pay-as-you-go phone plan, there hasn't been time for much else. But alas, just finished up a nine day work stint and looking forward to three days off. I didn't get out of bed until noon today and when I did, it took nine shots of espresso just to regain my vision.

I am currently living in a shoe-box in Chamonix Sud, about two minutes walk from the Aiguille du Midi Tram. Although this is a convenient location, there is always the risk of flipping an egg and having it land on my bed. Oh well, I guess it's a trade-off.

I'll be working here and in Switzerland until mid July and then heading to Mt. Elbrus in Russia with Adventure Consultants. Should be back in Canada by early August. The schedule is a little hectic but I'm looking forward to the new and exotic vistas.

Ross B was my tour guide for the first few days. Here he is in Les Praz, just outside Chamonix, looking for the Aiguille du Midi...

Has anyone seen the Aiguille du Midi?

Here I am looking for Mt. Blanc. Ross Berg Photo.

Finally found the tram.

Exiting the ice cave.

The steep exit on to the glacier.

For our first climb, Ross and I did the Perroux Route (next to the Chere Couloir) on the Tacul.

I guess it was in really good shape. Ross Berg Photo.

The next day, I rallied with Team America - Dylan T and Geoff U - to an awesome and obscure limestone crag. Here we have Dylan the Swashbuckler throwing his weight around. Dylan and I started guiding together in 1999 at AAI in Bellingham, WA. We then went on to have an illustrious Alaskan ski-slogging career with traverses of the Tordrillos (10 days) and Neacolas (22 days). These were undoubtedly some of the worst experiences of my life.

Here's Geoff on juggy 7A+. We went to college together back in the 90's.

Last but not least, here's Timmy C guiding me on my first day of work. Tim also guided me on my first Denali trip in 2000.

Day 3 of a 6-day Mt. Blanc course for Dream Guides. Morning view from the Trient Hut in Switzerland. We climbed the Aiguille de Tour on the lookers right.

A slow morning with just ten other climbers ahead of us.

Look at all that granite.

Heading back to the Chamonix valley.

Chamois on the way up to the Tete Rousse Hut on Mt. Blanc.

Early morning on the Gouter Route, Mt. Blanc.

Cool morning light.

Looking up at the summit of Mt. Blanc.

A few days later on the Arete de Cosmique.

A quiet day on the Arete de Cosmique with only 40 other climbers.

Looking up at the Aiguille du Midi from the ADC. Just a little surreal.

June 06, 2011

Adieu Canmore

North Atlantic Sunrise.

It’s been a slow few weeks since the last time I did anything other than drink coffee, peruse the internet and watch movies. Wow, maybe Joffre really did take it out of me? Or maybe it was the inclement weather mixed with this energy-sapping chest cold I’ve acquired? Orrrrr, maybe I really am a lazy bastard looking for another excuse for why I didn’t do this or why I didn’t do that. Hard sayin. Either way, it’s been a mellow few weeks.

But maybe things are changing. I'm sitting in Schiphol Airport (props if you know the city), amidst a bunch of trees and shrubbery and the sounds of ducks, frogs, birds and a babbling brook. It's the middle of the night Calgary time but here in Amsterdam it's almost 11 am. In another few hours, I'll head to Geneva and then Chamonix where I’ll spend the next few months guiding. I’ve never been and I’m looking forward to joining the other IFMGA Monkeys


If I had known that all guides get complimentary business class flights to Europe, I would have gone long ago.

Evening redness.