I’ve joined my parents in Evian Les Bains for a couple of days while Neil and Duncan continue their brave, but so far thwarted, attempts at getting up Mont Blanc. They have a ton of snow climbing gear with them but so far haven’t got anywhere near a single snowflake.
However, yesterday, at the top of the Aiguille du Midi, just as the Laurel and Hardy of climbing started past the barrier onto the 6 inch wide trail (with a drop of thousands of feet straight down on either side ), Neil was asked by a Spanish tourist if she could have her picture taken with him as he was ‘un alpiniste’. He was so chuffed.
The sign says ‘No Dundonians Beyond This Point’.He later told me that he’d been standing on one leg on said 6 inch wide trail trying to knock the snow out of his crampons. Sometimes I’d really rather not know.
He also told me that when they were climbing on Sunday, they’d waited behind some Dutch climbers who were themselves waiting for another bunch of climbers to descend past them on a tricky bit of the mountain. A group of French climbers barged past Neil et al and then a second group of French climbers turned up and also barged past. He watched appalled at the unnecessary chaos and danger caused by all the French trying to get past the descending climbers.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s ever had to queue for anything at a Post Office in France. I’d have thought common sense would apply if you’re only loosely tacked on to the side of a rather large mountain. But then they do things differently here.