Monday, May 28, 2018

Glacier Du Bossons

I had been in Chamonix for a few days, and my Airbnb had a great little deck that overlooked Mont Blanc. On the near side of the mountain there was a massive glacier (pictures from a distance never do it justice, but it was impressive to see)

I found a stack of maps on the bookshelf at the apartment and decided to figure out a way up. It turned out to be a short drive to a private road, a hike through a mixed neighborhood/ski resort area, and then to a trailhead.

It was frustrating. Everything was closed. First the parking lot (I found a spot on the side of the road), then the trail (I translated the sign as best I could to understand that I could go partially up, but not all the way due to snow), I ducked the rope and went for it.

There's a mountain hut near the glacier and yet another chained off area with a sign I could kind-of read indicating that I shouldn't go further. There were people working on the hut and I managed to talk my way past them and get permission to go a little further.

I only had to climb up a few hundred yards past the hut before I got a great view of the glacier. It was impressive and surprisingly loud. It was pushing 70 degrees out, so the snow melt had created a river underneath the glacier. It was a pretty relaxing place to lie down for a while.

I took a grass road past some rural homes on the way down with some unreal views looking back toward Le Brevent.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Le Brevent (Planpraz - 2,000m)

I had kicked around a number of different ideas including some traditional summer routes on the subpeaks of Mount Blanc. One of them required taking a cable car to the trailhead. At the base, I spoke some broken French to a guide to assess the feasibility of my plan. This wasn't working, so I showed her on the map. In very clear English she said "forget about it" and then did a pretty clear hand gesture indicating avalanches. I went to a mountain climbing guide HQ to propose some other routes and they confirmed this problem. 

 As a result, I ended up heading to the opposite side of the valley toward the summit of Le Brevent. The top section was also closed for "unstable trail conditions", but I could get up to a subpeak called Planpraz. The trail was beautiful and started on some winding footpaths in the valley before climbing up a mix of glades ski trails, access paths, and some switchbacks up steeper ski trails. 

At the summit there was a little cafe (mostly accessed via cable car) serving coffee, sandwiches and beer. Great contrast to white mountain hiking.