Another w-end, another last-minute departure - and another visit to Cham. And why not? There are people who love it, there are people who hate it. I guess i am in the 'love it despite everything' group. Whatever i might have heard about crowds, consumption society and tourist trap, of the two routes we did - we were alone on one, and had to do all the work in knee-deep snow on the second...Yes, there were over 60 people in the refuge - yes, most of them had no idea why they were there, and would have been as happy on a beach with a beer or in front of a big movie screen - but than again, what do i care? It's my temple, it's my land, i'm there to pray - and pray i can alone or among others, believers or simulators, all the same.
First day was an easy one, with a little beauty to start with - Poeme à Lou, a route by Pallandre, maybe not as prolific as Piola in his FAs, but the quality is usually at the RDV when following his lines (his other routes around Mt Blanc count such classics as American Beauty, Sale Athé or Voix du Druide). For our first climb at Aiguilles Rouges, this is a surprisingly sustained line, despite some grassy ledges, short approach and no descent. Unfortunately it is not even mentioned in the official Aiguilles Rouges Topo - but it should. I preferred most the second 6a+ pitch - long, sustained and very technical. I spent a long time leading it - but than could take a couple of nice pictures of my partner following through the eerie clouds.
The 4th pitch should have had a fixed rope to protect a traverse - now it's gone, the move is hardest for the second (probably 6c), avoidable by descending or rapping off the first bolt. Best is the finish - like the Arete des Cosmiques - right under the noses of the gaping tourists.
The second day saw us up in refuge Albert 1er, or rather out of it (wake-up at 2 am - oh my, why am i doing this again???). I already tried to do Migot once last year, without even getting to its start with Remy due to some exciting adventures up Aiguille du Tour. This time was the right one. At the refuge they looked a bit concerned - as no trace was made up the route since the last snowfall and none was willing to go up first. We decided to try.
Early start did not help though, as long, long was the day ahead.
10 hours to get to the top - and another 9 to get down...Hmm, maybe that's the record for the longest climb of Chardonnay...Anyway, we returned safely despite long searches for rappels, crevasse avoidance in the white-out and unending walk back down to the refuge. A well-merited supper awaited us there with kind words from the crew. Good people, nice refuge - nevermind the crowds.
Chardonnay has a very pleasant summit - and this is the view (Aiguille Verte) from it.