Chamonix Climbing

Chamonix is my continuing education. It's my chance to guide in the Alps, work with IFMGA guides and climb some classic alpine routes. This year I guided for six weeks, including the trip with Stacia and John Thomas, and a few personal days in between, like the Frendo Spur with Andrew. Then Cathy arrived and we climbed more. Here are photos from those two months. 

Atop the Gran Paradiso in Italy with my co-guides Andrew Wexler and Angela Hawse. These two are among my greatest alpine mentors–I learn the most from friends. I guided my first Denali trip with Angela in 1999. One key lesson Angela taught me was to always stash a case of Budweiser at Base Camp–you will be thirsty after three weeks on Denali. 

On this trip my co-guides were Boris Lorencic from Slovenia, MatthieuDesprat from France and Andrea diDonato from Italy. Each colorful characters, talented alpinists and guides with infinite patience. 

Chris Wright hydrating at The Pub after work. In 2009 Chris and I trained together for our rock guide exam. Since then, he's climbed some big alpine routes, received his IFMGA pin and drank the Chamonix juice. It was great to re-connect with Chris. 

Guide's day off. Andrew near the summit of the AiguilleduPeigne. See more photos at Andrew's site 

Rest day between mountain trips. Andrew, belayed by Danny Uhlmann, at Bionassay, down valley from Chamonix. 

Sara Hewitt came from Canmore to visit Andrew. One day, when Andrew had to work, I entertained Sara. We climbed the Vallee Blanche classicVoieSalluard (300m, 6a) on PointeAdolpheRey. Here Sara rappels the top pitches.

Mara Larson was my flatmate for a month before Cathy arrived. Mara is from Salem, Oregon. She works around the world, managing expedition base camps, guiding treks in Nepal, and doing logistics for Jagged Globe from Chamonix. Thanks for the great company Mara!

I'm so glad you're here Cathy!

The Aiguille Verte and the Dru from our kitchen window in Les Praz, a few kilometers up valley from Chamonix. 

Cathy on a mystery route on the Éperon des Cosmiques, a face next to the Aiguille du Midi. We also climbed the omnipresent Rébuffat route (120m. 6a) on the Éperon. If you pitch off the crux of the Rébuffat you will land in the power lines visible in this photo. 

Our partners on the Éperon: Mike Powers and Hans Solmssen. Mike and Hans have been buddies for 25 years, since they ski bummed together in Verbier. Mike gave Cathy and I our summer 2014 Chamonix tick list. 

Cathy topping out the Cosmiques Arête on the Aiguilledu Midi, a classic mixed scramble (240m, 4a) that finishes at the Midi téléphérique station. The Cosmiques is a great way to climb back to the lift after climbing other routes on the Vallée Blanche. 

Cathy climbing Poème à Lou (220m, 6b) on the Brévent in the Aiguilles Rouges. Long pitches on thin edges with spacey bolts. Right up to a waiting cable car. 

Cathy climbing Nabot Léon (180m, 5c), on the Pilier Rouge on the Aiguille de Blaitière. This was Cathy's favorite route during our time in Chamonix. 

Cathy on the Cocher-Cochon (200m, 6a) in the Aiguilles Rouges. This is route #2 in Philippe Batoux's book Mont Blanc: The Finest Routes. The Cocher Cochon finishes on the summit of the Clocher, at the start of route #1 in Rébuffat's book The Mont Blanc Massif: The Hundred Finest Routes

Cathy hiking back to the BréventPlanpraz after climbing Cocher-Cochon. The right snowy peak is Mont Blanc. The middle pointy peak is the Aiguilledu Midi. 

Cathy on pitch two of six while climbing La Rossa e il Vampirla (180m, 6b), on Pilastro Lomasti at Machaby in Italy. People say this is the route at Machaby. The rock seemed to be schist edges with quartz pockets. 

Cathy walking back to the Machaby bar after climbing PilastroLomasti. The Bard Fort is visible down the Aosta valley. 

After climbing we met Roger and Mary at the Machaby bar for beers. Roger and Mary are from Anchorage, in their 70's and going full tilt. They rock climb around the world, backcountry ski, nordic ski, mountain run...and they don't take rest days. The day after we climbed at Machaby they travelled to San Vito in Sicily to sport climb. Pilastro Lomasti is the bright buttress on the distant mountain. 

Every experience is better with farm animals.

Rob King climbing a via ferrata near Passy. A final fun day of guiding before heading to Les Calanques on the French Mediterranean to climb with Cathy.