Mont Blanc with Thomases

A highlight of my Chamonix guiding season was five days of climbing with Stacia and John Thomas from Anchorage. They are my neighbors, they are fit, they are fun and they like to drink a few vin rouges at the alpine refuges. 

Our first climb was the Lachenal Traverse above the Vallee Blanche. After weeks of storm, the route was mixed. Some of the moves required torquing ice axes in iced cracks. 

 

Fluorescent Kinko gloves identify them as Alaskans.  


Kilian Journet zoomed by us as we climbed Point Lachenal. Killan climbed up and down Denali in 11 hours 48 minutes this summer—a new speed record. In the background is the Aiguille du Midi, where a tram lifts people 9,000 feet from Chamonix to the alpine. 

 

We stayed the night at the Cosmiques Refuge at 11,854 feet. The high sleeping altitude is good acclimatization for climbing Mont Blanc. Stacia and John had already some acclimatizing done while from hiking the Haute Route from Zermatt to Chamonix. 

 

The next morning we climbed the Cosmiques Arete back to the Midi lift station. We spent the afternoon practicing glacier travel skills in the sub-alpine tundra.

 

Then we went to the Tete Rouse Refuge on Mont Blanc. 

 

Pitchers of vin rouge and soup for appetizer. 

 

We had two summit day options in case of a storm. It was snowing and blowing the morning of our the first summit option. In the afternoon we climbed 2,000 feet to the Gouter Refuge at 12,582 feet. That evening it cleared.

 

Mont Blanc summit! The highest mountain in the Alps at 15,781 feet. It was blowing and cold so we had the summit to ourselves. 

  

Descending below the Dome du Gouter. Stacia and John did the complete climb in their Kinko gloves. 

 

Nothing is more ass-kicking than mountaineering. Stacia hydrating at the Gouter Refuge before climbing down another 4,500-feet to the cog railway. 

 

Thanks for a great week Stacia and John! See you in the hood!