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Sunday 17th 08 2008 12:00:00 AM

Pictures by Andy Main and words by Neil Mackenzie

Mis-adventures on the Mer de Glace!

IMG_0431 mer de glace ladders copy IMG_0442 mar de glace copy

Fresh faced and eager after a false start on the Conville course we planned an adventure up the famous Mer de Glace, onto the Lescaux glacier and to a bivi boulder behind the Courvecle hut. The route we had in mind, the Sth Ridge of the Moine, was one of Rebuffats ‘100 Finest’ and should provide a good introduction to alpine ridges and open out some of the more remote parts of the range to our prying eyes!
IMG_0444 mer de glace icefall copy

Well it would have done, had we not marched past the Courvecle hut; yet another storm was threatening to break and in our haste to get off the glacier we took flight to the most obvious hut (actually a further 2km up the glacier!).

IMG_0452 dan at the bivi copy

All this was unknown to us at the time! We had found a bivy boulder (of sorts) and it was after reccie-ing the start of our proposed route that doubts began to persist…. It looked very scary and rather unclean for a classic PD. On reference to the book, it appeared that the hut we were aiming for was smiling at us in the distance and the ridge we intended to climb formed our southern skyline about 3hrs walk away! But not to worry, our immediate vista included the Grande Jorasses, Aig de Tucal and the impressive spires of Mt Mallet and the Dent de Geant – there must be something around here we can climb!

IMG_0464 grand jorass zoom copy IMG_0463 grand jorass copy

Our fellow Conviller, and companion for this trip, Dan had suggested to me that if my sleeping bag was synthetic then, weather permitting, I could probably do without my bivy bag. Ever keen for the advancement of knowledge (and the further reduction of my consistently light pack!) I duly disregarded the weather forecast and dispensed with my waterproof abode in order to test the theory of the all conquering synthetic bag! Inevitably, once we were settled down for the night an almighty thunderstorm broke and such true valour in the face of self made adversity made me proud to be an idiot!
IMG_0455 mer de glace storm coming copy

The sheets of electric blue illuminating the great landscape, the energetic forks dancing over the peaks and the rumble of distant rock fall could not distract me the from the fact that I might as well be bivying in a bath!! To make things worse my smug companions, all snugly tucked into their goretex, deflected all their rain onto me!

Despite this minor set back I had a grand nights sleep (all hail the synthetic!) and we awoke to grey but not obviously threatening skies. We had re-evaluated our position and decided to climb Aig de Eboulement by the normal route, so by first light we were scrambling up the initial ridge when we were once again met by disheartening sensation of raindrops falling and all that this entails in an alpine environment, (namely: retreat!). Thus, for the second time, we had got up obscenely early only to be rained off our route (maybe we should buck the alpine tradition and start getting up late…..)

IMG_0471 neil crazy covercal laders copy

IMG_0472dan crazy covercal ladders copy

so alternative interest was sought in a high level walk over to the Courvecle hut. This involved crossing the Telefre glacier and drooling over all the peaks of its basin before dropping down the famous Eglerets ladders back to the Mer de Glace.

IMG_0482 mer de glace copy

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