Pointe Lachenal

Training day 2 for Matterhorn. Previous day I was able to get up to a height of 3086m. Today we would take the Aguille du Midi Telefrique from Chamonix to 3842m where I could further develop my acclimatization and hopefully remember my crampon technique and ice climbing skills. 

22 July 2013, France

Named after the famous Chamonix guide Louis Lachenal, this granite rock tower offers a wealth of rock climbing routes from UIAA V+ to VII+ and upwards on it’s SE face, in a magnificent alpine setting next to Mt. Blanc du Tacul, above the Glacier du Geant. Easily accessible from the Aig. du Midi telepherique, perfect for one-day round trips up high for acclimatization then back to the valley to sleep. (Source: Summitpost.org)

From the Aiguille du Midi telepherique station descend to the Col du Midi, cross the Col and descend the small slope between the Gros Rognon and Pointe Lachnal then make your way towards the SE face.  I always love starting off at the Aig. du Midi station, a place where climbers and tourists mingle. Tourists/non-climbers look upon us with intrigue and when they see us descend down to the Col du Midi on that knife-edge ridge, they may be inclined to suppose we are inherently insane; especially since I love doing this walk year after year.

The usual scenario is to get to the top station at 3842m, go a spend a quick penny then gear up. I usually leave my apt with my harness on since its so lightweight I barely feel im wearing it. My version of gearing up means checking memory cards, batteries and all my photo video recording equipment that im known for. In some respects it does distract from the real reason I come to the Alps and that is to climb. The added weight is balanced by sacrifices I make with my kit. I do take the notion of alpine style seriously and when I mean sacrifice I mean I don’t take plasters or a medical kit, I don’t buy heavy climbing gear and I don’t take massive sandwiches to gorge on up in the mountains.  If a storm is coming (like it did on this particular day) then id rather get the hell out of dodge than sit it out in a down jacket or what have you.

The following pictures are of a cute Japanese couple who wanted their picture taken with us:

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The following photos are the usual WARNING signs before you enter the DANGER ZONE. God I love this!

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And once you start the knife-edge ridge descent down to the Col, this is what the view would look like to spectators coming up in the telephrique:

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After descending this beautiful ridge with views tot he left of Chamonix and the Aguille Rouges, and to the right is the Vallee Blanche which has to be the most beautiful sun baking plateau that I have ever walked upon.

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Crossing the Vallee Blanche is just a nice snow plod. Definitely faster in the morning than when you trundle back across in after midday. After some time we reached the foot of Pointe Lachenalle which sits next to its big sister which is Mont Blanc du Tacul. A fairly easy climb for anyone. I was a bit tired that day and my climbing skills were rusty to say the least (after all it had been 2 years since id climbed). After a couple of small pitches we reached the top where we sat for our lunch and enjoyed the views.

I will mention something incredible though. the sound of an electrical storm front on its way in. It was absolutely the first time I had ever heard anything like in my life let alone in the mountains. It sounded a lot like those electrical power sub stations which have a consistent buzz. However this sound is more sinister as it comes and goes. Standing on top of a peak with metal ice axes, crampons and in my case all that and a bunch of video and film equipment! we certainly packed our S**T together and hurried the F**K off that peak with haste! It was an incredible sound and feeling. My friend and guide Ervin, his loose hair was standing on end due to the static in the air. It was incredible and deep down, honestly, I love moments of unexpected surprises and some danger.

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We descended pretty quickly, marched back along the Col and up the knifed-edge ridge, caught the telephrique and was down in time for Pizza 🙂 all in all a very nice, rather hot day.




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