The Mont Blanc Diary

First day (June 30, 2010)

Mont BlancIt was 6 o’clock  in the morning, we were getting ready to  set  off  for  Le Fayet  railway station.  When  I  was about  to  climb  in the car I turned towards my mother and said something I have  never said in my 12 years of living:  “I am  afraid, Mom.”  It  was  my  first  climb  to such  a  high  altitude,  I  knew  it  was a difficult peak to summit,  that  many   grown  up  climbers   have   failed there  and  some  even  died.  But  I  also  knew I was in good shape,  well trained,  that  Daddy is beside me and all of  my  relatives: my mother,  my grand parents, my classmates and friends support me.                           They all encouraged me and said they put their trust in me. I could not let down so many people.

I bid good bye to mama and our French friends and set off for the station together with my father and our friend Eric who was going to guide us to the top. Once there we bought our tickets for the famous Tramway of Mont Blanc, that after an hour and a half took us to the place where the trek begins.

From  there  we  set  off  on foot and at 11:30 we  reached  the Tete  Rousse  hut  (3167 m) where  we  stopped  to  have  breakfast.   At 12:00   we  set  off   again  and   reached  the Grand Couloir,  the  most  difficult part of the first day, where it is said that lots of climbers have  died.  We  managed to  cross  it  safely, the big  Couloir de la Mort  and  2 hours later we  reached  the  Gouter  hut  where we  had our reservations for the night.

 The hut, situated at an altitude of 3785 m was full with Polish,  Canadian,  English, Italian and French climbers. There was even  an  Italian guide (Enrico  Bonini,  great guy,  we  kept  in touch  ever  since)  that congratulated my   father  for   the  way  he  educated   me,   and  was  very  happy  to  have  met us.  As   I   was the only child there,  and  the  youngest   also,   I  had  to  take  care of every  step  that  I  was making  because  all  eyes were watching  me.   Before  going  to  bed,  we decided to eat some  honey,  to  get  more   energy,  and,   because  the honey   was   held  in  an  odd  ‘box’,  and  I  drink  while everybody  was  watching  me,  a  French  climber, who was  starring  so  amazed  at   me, said :                       “Do  you,  Romanians  drink  shampoo?” I don’t like you  guys  would  have  liked  to  see  the  stupid  face  I  made  at  that  moment,  but  even thought I didn’t want to be rude, I burst out laughing and couldn’t stop. Did he really think we drank shampoo, or was that a joke? He seemed serious!

Eric  reminded  us  again  that  if  tomorow by 10:00 we are not on top, we will have to drop it and come back,  regardless of where we  were,  before  the  snow  starts  melting. I took an oath,  in  my  thoughs,  to  get there at any costs.  We have spoken for hours with the  climbers from the dining room, in french and  english  and  they  were  all  very  curios cause  I   was  the  only  kid  in  the  hut.  The group  of  Polish  climbers  experienced  head aches and was forced to climb downhill.

Due  to  our  good  accllimatisation,  we  were   spared  this  experience.   At  8:00  p.m. the  curfew  was  announced,  but  I managed  to read some chapters  from  My Bible, that mom has  put   into   my   backpack,   praying   God  to  help  us,   and   asking  the  mountain  the permission to set our foot on it.  We never conquer a mountain, we ask its permission to lay foot on it.

Second day of Mont Blanc, 2:00 am

I  think  I  was  dreaming   when   my  father dragged  me   out  of  my  sleep.  Reluctantly  I got out of the blanket and went downstairs. Everybody  was  very  nervous   and  excited which  reminded  me  of   our  purpose there. My dad came to me and  said:  “Alexandra, it is just the three of us on the  rope,  so  it is all for  one  and  one  for  all. Do your best cause it’s now or never”

Many   climbers  set  off  ahead  of time in order to have enough time for the summit, and it was  impressive  to watch  the  slope  full  of  dancing  beams.  We  got  dressed  and put our crampons on. Of course I could not find my garrets so Daddy had to lend me his own.

The slope  was  steep and I was kind of tired, but  the  encouraging   words   of   my  father were   lifting my moral up, making me forget the  fatigue  and  keep  on  walking. I enjoyed vey  much  the  sunset   and   the   lighting  of L’Aiguille  du  Midi  which could be seen very well from the high cliffs we were climbing.

We were  climbing roped together, Eric first, than me and Dad. Eric did not allow us to take  any  breaks  so  Dad  had  to speed up  now  and  than  in  order to  take pictures.  On  our  way   back  we  had  a  good  laugh  about  this  and  called  him   “the Japanese tourist” because he looked like he had a camera stuck to his hands.

While walking, we also  met some  French climbers who were climbing downhill and, as dad enjoys  joking, he asked  them if this  was  the  road to Paris.  They  were so stunned by the question that they had no words left to answer the question. Finally one of them decided it was high time to answer the question so,  the same stunned face that he had had before, he said a very fade ‘No…’.

On  L’ Arret  des  Bosses  Eric turned toward us and said “here nobody stumbles”.

It was a difficult way and  if   one  falls  there  is  no coming  back.  We  walked with caution and I was  paying  great attention to my feet. Thank God we managed to get throught with no problems.

 We walked on   and   on   and  on   for   hours,   when all of a sudden Eric  turned  around  and  said:  “We are on top.  We did it! ”  It  was  6:30 a.m.,  it  was  so   cold,  but  I  was  so  happy  that   I   wasn’t   paying   attention   to  anything else.   Dad   was   happy   too,   because   he   realised he summited  the  top  of  Europe  on his birthday together with   his  babygirl.   We  took  a  lot  of  pictures   of  me holding  up  the  Romanian  flag  and  also the flag of my school.  Some French climbers recognised the romanian flag and congratulated us for summiting.

Eric   and dad  would  have  liked  to  stay  there a little longer  but  my  feet  started  freezing  so  we decided   to  go   back.   After  some  hours  of downhill  walking,  we  entered  the  hut with my dad saying  ”make place for the veterans of  Mont  Blanc,  please”,  which   seemed   to amuse everyone there.

We made it in time for  the tram.  Once in Le Fayet I jumped into my mother’s arms.

They were all so happy to see us.

But  the  most  important  thing  is  that  I  summited   the  top of  France,  Western Europe and for 15 min I was the tallest girl on the continent.

Alexandra

You can see some video before you leave my diary:

http://youtube/Z5UsvkPBt6w

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5 Responses to The Mont Blanc Diary

  1. mrsptravels says:

    Great blog post, enjoyed reading it & ‘well done’ on summiting, my husband & I are attempting to climb in July! Any advice, tips??? Looking forward to it 🙂

  2. iclimbforyou says:

    Hello
    Thank you for your kind words.I am Alexandra”s father, the man left in charge with the blog as Alex is off on a trip with some Belgians students.
    I reckon you are going to try MB without taking a guide, cause if you do it you will do what he says regardless of my suggestions.I read your blog and I understood that you are in good shape and fit and have the experience of high altitudes.MB demands plenty of these attributes.By the way, congratulations for Kili.We though it was amazing too.
    So some tips: for the crossing of the gully Couloir de la Mort I suggest to be not roped up.Look for incoming rocks and when is clear go for it. Also try to avoid meeting other groups on the crossing
    Wear a helmet and stay alert cause the main issue till you get to the Gouter iare the rocks dislodged by other climbers. I am speaking straigtforwardly to you cause I realize you are not a beginner.
    From le Gouter, of course, weaher permitting, start by 2 o clock along with every body else for better orientation.You should reach the summit in about5-6 hours.The main chalenge will be the walking on top of Arret des Bosses, back and forth.It is essential not to stumble when attempting it cause the slope is very steep and self arrest difficult.Also if you meet incoming groups is better to stop and anchor yourself on your axe and crampons till they walk past.Double your attention on your way back, as on is inclined to relax after the summit. The dangers are the same
    Hope you will find my answer satisfactory and if you have other questions I will be more then happy to answer them
    Best regards
    Dan Marcu
    PS
    I liked your blog very much.Also I can tell you that the sight of Mawenzi will stay with me forever

    • mrsptravels says:

      Thank you so much for wise words and tips. I am so glad I found this blog – such a great find!
      I have noted all the tips/advice down and will re-cap on them closer to the time! We are planning on taking a guide as we dont know the area and want that extra bit of guidence on this peak to summit sucessfully. We are arranging this through a chamonix based local company.
      Training wise do you have any advice? I am trying to get as fit as possible already (cardio) and heading to the mountains every weekend. 🙂

      • iclimbforyou says:

        Hello
        Basically our training consists in walking up and down the hills surrounding our beautiful city, Deva, Romania.
        Of course we add to this dance classes and skiing but the main one is walking on the hills with of course a backpack as company.The weight that we carry is about 20 kg for me and 15 for the girl.So far it has
        worked fantastically for us. The ideea is to ger used to that heavy fatigue that settles on you after hours of straining on the glacier in order to be able to cope with it and not lose your head. Last summmer we managed to summit Elbrus in Russia, on severe snowstorm only because we managed to keep our cool.People died that day because, beeing exhausted, kept on walking like sick camels without paying attention any more at what was happening around them, lost their way in the fog and fell into glacier cracks or got lost.
        So the ideea is to be used to this fatigue and to stay alert.Taking a guide is a great solution.
        Thank you for following us on the net. Soon we will post articles about Elbrus, Kazbek in Georgia, Pico de Orizaba in Mexico and of course our fantastic Carpathian mountains in Ro. We just try to build a travel,climbing blog in order to help others do what we did and also maybe attract more attention to our activity too.
        All the best, do not stumble on Arret des Bosses, and good luck.

      • mrsptravels says:

        ‘Thank you’ for the insight to your training!
        Looking forward to your future posts – especially Elbrus as this is one on my list!

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