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Sunday 19th 10 2008 12:00:00 AM

Pictures by Andy Main and words by Neil Mackenzie


IMG_0566 midi plan snow aretes copy

During our rest day after the mini-epic that was our ‘easy rock day’ we moved to a campsite in chamonix and met up with the injured Wee Mark (hope the knees getting better!!) and the restless, partner-less Warren. And so the three of us planned to do the Midi-Plan Traverse and leave poor Mark to figure out the origin of the Universe and brushing up his knowledge on the String Theory!

IMG_0568 the snow arete copy IMG_0574 on the snow aretes copy

The first lift took us to the Midi station from which the early morning skies lit up the beautiful snow arête that was our route. Roped together we set off, not wasting a minute as we had a lot of ground to cover and speed was essential. The situation was awe inspiring with a drop of 2500m on one side falling all the way back to Chamonix and 1000m on the other into the Vallee Blanche, a slip could not be contemplated!

IMG_0566 midi plan snow aretes II copy IMG_0606 plan midi copy

The beautiful airy knife-edge soon gave way to the first rocky steps of Rognon du Plan which gave some entertaining but easy mixed climbing.

IMG_0582 midi plann mixed ground copy

From the summit two rather awkward abseils took us down to the Col Superior du Plan from which we traversed the ice slopes at the top of the Glacier d’Envers towards the summit of Aig. du Plan.

IMG_0592 the abb copy

At the top of the snow slopes there was a convenient ledge upon which we left our bags before the final summit blocks which were reached by some interesting maneuvers on the famed clean Chamonix Granite!

IMG_0602 midi plan summit copyIMG_0611 abb of the plan copy

That was the easy part done, the traverse completed in precise guidebook time of 4hrs, but now we had 2000m of descent down the complex terrain of the ‘Envers glacier and onto the Mer de Glace! To make things a little more entertaining the strong sun had softened the snow, and what looked like it should be an easy glissade had to be treated with great care! Through some stunning serac territory we slowly wound eventually reaching the halfway point of the Requin hut, where our energy stores were replenished with a well earned sandwich. Time was short and we had to race on down the path and ladders onto the Mer de Glace. Unfortunately, since the ladders we put in the glacier has moved and they dropped us onto a seriously convoluted crevasse field!

IMG_0616 merd de glace copy IMG_0594 envers glacier copy

After much discussion about the best way to navigate this savage nest of fractures we resorted to the adrenaline pumped tactic of jumping where we could and zig-zagging when we had too! This took us around 2hrs to travel about 200m down the glacier and we were in serious danger of missing the last train from Montevers! Luckily once we were clear of the crevasses were onto known terrain and it took us less than 45min to cover the last few miles and soon we were safely on the train, resisting the urge to steal sweets from innocent kids to feed our ravenous bellies!

A great route, long day and the wonderful feeling of exhausted contentment that makes climbing so addictive!

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