It’s been an epic trip; 5 days two mountains.
The Grand Paradiso Italy’s highest mountain 4000m , France & Europe’s highest mountain 4800m
The plan was tight and we needed weather on our side. We needed to get some altitude before attempting the summit of Mt. Blanc. Italy’s highest mountain suited us perfectly to help get acclimatised and test all our equipment and familiarise ourselves with ice exes and harnesses etc.
Basically the schedule was as follows:
- Thursday 10th –
- Up at 4am for red eye flight to Geneva.
- Arrive in Geneva and get hire car and drive to the Grand Paradiso National Park.
- Get kitted up and start climbing reaching the hut at the half way point at ~ 6pm.
- Dinner @ 8pm and then bed.
- Friday 11th
- Up at 2.30am for Breakfast @ 3am
- Hit the trail at 3.30 am summiting at ~ 10am.
- Turn & burn back to the car and into Chamonix to check into a hotel.
- Saturday 12th
- Rest day, sort few bits in gear in Chamonix – issues with crampon and needed lighter gloves.
- World climbing championships on so good to see that.
- Early night interrupted with a puncture on the hire car, no spare wheel. Lost two hours waiting for the tow truck finally got sorted and back to bed for midlight.
- Sunday 13th
- Up at 6am – breakfast at 6.30
- Tram at 7am from Saint-Gervais through pastures and forests, gradually reaching the Nid d'Aigle (2,372m) under the Aiguille du Goûter peak, at the bottom of the Bionnassay glacier. It is also first stage for mountaineers who start out on the ascension of Mont Blanc.
- Epic battle to get to the Gouter hut ~ 3,800 m for ~ 5pm. This was the toughest part for me. I wasn’t expecting this degree of difficulty.
- Absolutely shattered and really feeling the effects of the altitude. Tough to try and get some food and water in and sleeping was almost impossible, heading and heart pumping!
- Monday 14th
- Up at 1.45am for breakfast at 2am.
- On the trail at 3am.
- Climb the Dome de Gouter before heading up a steep and narrow Bosses ridge.
- Climb to what we believe is the top only to realise there is another section to go.
- Reach the top at 7.50am.
- Brandy and celebrations photographs followed by turn and burn as its minus15degrees.
- Back down to the Gouter hut for 10.30am for dinner and rest.
- Leave Gouter at 12.15 and reach the tram at 6pm and get back to car park at 7pm.
- Champaign and celebrations.
- Tuesday 15th
- Up at 6am
- Fly home and back into work for 1pm!
Some holiday……..I think I need a rest.
Thanks to everyone who went on the trip, making this fantastic adventure possible:
Des Mulvihill www.outdoorsports.ie
Keith McDonnell (team leader), Darren Smith, Stephen Power & from www.extremeireland.ie
Mauro Durand (Argentina and living in Chamonix) former colleague of Keith.
Terry Lambert from www.hilltoptreks.ie
Lucian Mateigo-Lopenta – French dude we met at the tram station! He was winging it and looking for a group to tag on with!