Friday, August 26, 2011

Europe - Part 1 - Climbing in Chamonix

Views of Mt. Blanc from the climb

My first night in Chamonix began with an amazing meal. We began the meal with a warm, goat cheese salad, which consisted of greens and tomatoes topped with a light creamy dressing, ham and goat cheese wrapped in puffed pastry. I ordered Raclette for the main course, which is a local cuisine that includes cheese, meets and potatoes. Its not just any cheese, the cheese comes with a Raclette, which is an electronic machine that melts the cheese making it all gooey and drippy and perfect to top on potatoes and meats. After that meal, I knew I was in for a good vacation!

The next morning Jonathon and I awoke to bluebird weather and warm temperatures. We packed our little backpacks for a day of climbing on Le Brevent, a multi-pitch and cragging venue on the north side of the valley. We climbed Le fin de Babylon, which is 8 pitches and rated 6c, 5.11-. It was a great introduction to the area. We took the trams up and down so walking was very limited, which I like a lot! The climb was entirely bolted. It was bolted very well during the cruxes and then a bit run out on the “easier terrain.” Jonathon had climbed the route the year prior and the first thing he said to me during my first lead was, “Remember if there aren’t a lot of bolts, its supposed to be easy.” I tried to remember that as I headed into the forty foot runouts between the cruxes!

Following the 3rd pitch

Its been awhile since I’ve been sport climbing and its quite nice to have such a light rack on my harness. You do need to carry a pack with shoes, a layer and some water. We each took bullet packs. The climbing had lots of positive and sloping holds. If you looked around long enough, you usually could find fairly positive holds all the time. The most exciting pitch was a traversing pitch under a huge roof. It was rather airy. Fortunately I didn’t fall!

The traversing 6c crux

After we got to the top, we took in the views of Mt. Blanc and the French Alps. We finished up our croissants from breakfast and completed the five minute hike back to the tram deck. It was a great introduction to the area and I can’t wait to do some more exploring.

Views from the tram deck

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