Seven Summits of the Alps --- A4A Alps for Autism
After a four-month journey across Nepal in 2012, I decided to have a go at the highest mountains in each of the seven countries situated in the Alps. Apart from being an adventurous trip by bike over mountain passes and through lush valleys, it is again a fund raising project for Autism Care Nepal.
Join me and enjoy a good time. Start: 01.07.2013 from Oslo .
|Posted on August 6, 2013 at 12:30 AM||comments (1)|
After a "last minute" decision, a company in Chamonix found a guide who joined me today on the Cosmique Route to the summit of Mt. Blanc.
Pretty hard and long day, but everybody seemed to be tired who embarked on this route ...... saw it as my "right" at the age of 56 to take a few extra rests on the way up to the summit .....
|Posted on August 4, 2013 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
A bus took me through Mt. Blanc tunnel, and I arrived in Chamonix in bright sunshine.
Officially the campsite was fully booked, but they found a tiny patch for me and my tent. the camp is perffectly located if one wants to visit the town and to stroll through the gates, but the heat was terrible and I soon got pretty edgy and stressed.
Zermatt is the Swiss version ofThamel for the rich people and Chamonix is the French version .... tourists walk up and down, aimlessly and bored or strressed and annoyed (like me). The temperatures could easily compete with those in Kathmandu, and after a rain shower the humidity reach a level that was definitaly beyond the point where I can enjoy myself, and I walk around like in a nightmare ....
Since a solo trip up Mt. Blanc is impossible for me (and not recommended to others either) I tried to find a guided group for the Cosmique route which is much safer but technically more difficult .... pretty unsure what "difficult" means ....
If things work out I will go up to the hut tomorrow .... an additional rest day would have been great, but the weather forecast predicts unstable conditions from Tuesday.
|Posted on August 3, 2013 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
The Italians are different from the Swiss. Whereas they serve breakfast from 6:30 at Swiss hotels or B&Bs you have to wait until 8:30 in Italy.
At my hotel it`s worth it. Well, that`s another difference. In Switzerland (and France) you get 2 small slices of bread and a tiny piece of cake, and neither the slice of cheese nor the ham will cover the slice of bread, and I always wonder how they manage to spread 10 g butter on two rolls you might get insteadof the bread.
Down to Aosta and up the valley to Pont (about 1500 m altitude) took all day longsince I stopped to take videos, eat and drink and listen to my favorite music to avoid listening to the traffic.
It was already getting cold when I arrived in Pont, and I appreciated the invitation to join my neighbours at the open fire.
A cold night. The walk up to the hut will only take about 2 hrs, and thus I decided to stay in bed until the sun sent the first rays over the ridge down into the valley; about 9:00
I had an easy morning and set out to the Refugio Emanuele in the early afternoon; not a particularly good idea since the trail runs up on the sunny side of the hill. Meeting a group of Scots made me wich to walk up Ben Nevis on a cold rainy day.It seemed to take ages until I get to the hut which is packed with people ... not only those who want to climb Gran Paradiso, but also some who just intend to spend a night in an Alpine hut.
Excellent and suffcient food ... another difference between France and Italy.
Breakfast at 3:30 and off half an hour later. First an odyssee through the boulders obove the hut and later a loooooong way up the glacier which is said to be safe to walk on your own. Great. There were some other solo travellers but they walked too fast, and so plod up the hill behind a group. After 4 hrs the rocky summit section came into sight and to be honest, I was disappointed. For some unknown reason I had expected something huge and awe-inspiring, but there was just a bit of scrambling over and between boulders ... with the white statue of a Madonna in front of me.
A last tricky section where one should not suffer from vertigo, and I could embrace the statue.
Luckily the great number of other climbers were still to come because getting trapped in the chaos of ropes is (in my opinion) the only real danger one faces on Gran Paradiso.
Back down at the camp site I had a cold beer and fell asleep.
Rolling down to the main road was fun ... 25 km, but back in the heat was no fun at all; suffering as usual.
The 30 odd kilometers to Courmayeur were hell, and I only survived the furnace by stopping at all the bars along the way and eating ice cream.
Arriving in Courmayeur I tried to find out details about climbing Mont Blanc from here, but the approaches are long, and thus I decide to go on to Chamonix tomorrow. The Mt. Blanc tunnel is closed for cyclists and I will need transport .... quiet easy ... there are busses that offer this service.
|Posted on July 29, 2013 at 3:05 PM||comments (0)|
Dance the devil away by the American group Outback is one of my favourites whenever I run out of energy .... Today, I listened at least five times to the Album while cycling up to Grand St. Bernard (2470)
What to tell about the pass
Rain, rain, rain, wind, wind, wind, cold, cold, cold, steep, steep steep ....
When I finally reached the abby with its restaurant I was freezing and tinkered with the idae of staying there over night, but the thought of cycling down in the cold hours of an early morning did not appeal to me either so I decided to roll down. Temperatures just above the freezing point and the strong wind made me feel like a deep frozen junk of meat when I rolled into Etroubles in Italy. A long hot shower did wonders, and I started to feel better.
My planned destination had been Aosta, but I saw no point in freezing any longer.
Just hope to get to Pont tomorrow, because the trip implies another steep climb ......
|Posted on July 28, 2013 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
After breakfast Thomas and Marcus went back to Germany, and I cycled on towards Italy.
If it had not been for the heat, the ride through the Rhone Valley would have been a pleasant experience but the sun was relentless, and soon the temperatures reached 35; probalby more. Thus, some wind was really welcome, but soon it turmed out that it made my situation even worse. It felt like the devil`s breath .... hot and dry, and I only surviivedthe 70 km along the valley because of countless stops at petrol stations to refill my camel bag and to buy ice cream.
At the end of the valley I still felt strong enough to start cycling up towards the pass which I will cross tomorrow.; a long climb of almost 2000 metres. The weather forecast predicts rain ..... well, this may mean lower temperatures.
My plan to stay in Orsieres for the night was not a good plan. The village looked filthy and so did the two hotels, and they wanted to charge me first class prices (80 Fr). Mentioning that I thought this to be too expensive, the owners just smiled and shrugged their shoulders. Luckily I remembered having seen a B&B sign two kilometres before reaching the village, and I cycled back down the hill.
The most lovely and cozy place ..... looked pretty expensive, and thus I was surprised to learn that the room (plus breakfast) only costs 50 Fr.
|Posted on July 27, 2013 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
Thomas, Marcus and me want to climb Mt. Blanc together.
Problem nr. 1 ---- they have to return to Germany on Sunday
Problem nr. 2 ---- it`s a three-day bike ride to Chamonix
We decide to drive to Chamonix by car and later I will cycle the same route........
The Gouter hut is fully booked so our only chance is the Tete Rousse hut further down. Disadvantages vs. advantages ....
.however, we feel pretty happy with this option ..... only until we arrive at the hut and witness the stones and rocks tumbling through the
GGrand Couloir .... people in the couloir crouch down, run forward .... back .. out of the couloir. A helicopter lands and flies out with an injured person ... we hear about helicopter rescues tatking place every day ..... it is to warm for the ground to freeze at night and the "safe" hours are no longer safe. Marcus decides not to join Thomas and me to the summit.
Another warm night with constant rock fall makes Thomas and me opt against the summit .... independently from each other we came to the same result ..... no need to play Russian Roulette. We eat our breakfast at 1:30 and return to the dormitory. We know it is not the day (or time) to climb Mt. Blanc. Yes, it had been a great plan and we were looking forward to Mt. Blanc but common sense rules both our thoughts ....
Maybe another time .... another year ... definitely not today!
We walk down, have a beer to celebrate our decision, do a culture excusion in the Rhone valley where the thermometer reaches almost 40
Tomorrow Thomas and Marcus drive home and I will cycle on to Italy ...... Gran Paradiso.
|Posted on July 25, 2013 at 5:20 AM||comments (0)|
My idea was to sleep until 11 but peoplein the tents around me did not no about my plan and started breaking camp at 5:30 ... with a lot of noise.
Clouds and the fresh, cool air after the thunderstorm (last night) made me use a warm jacket on the 1600 meter downhill "race" back into the Rhone valley.
My destination was Ergisch, a tiny village somewhere in the middle nowhere. Thomas who had repaired my mountain boots after the Great Himalaya Trail trip( see:www.happynewshoe) stays here at his parents place, and I will have my first rest day ....
What I did not take into the account was the fact that going from Visp to Ergisch implies crossing (sort of) a pass. Well, some extra training will do me good before attempting Mt. Blanc.
Good dinner .... delicious chocolate cake as dessert ...... long hot shower .... and a cold beer
|Posted on July 23, 2013 at 4:25 PM||comments (0)|
I dropped the idea of going down to Ergisch to get my equipment ... too time consuming and too expensive.
So I decided to rent an ice axe, crampons and a harness at a local shop and went up to Monte Rosa hut.
Already from the distance I could make out the gleaming white wall of the building that looks like a modern, abstract summit form one side. From the other side it resembles a huge black boulder.
It`s a very stylish place given the fact that everything has to be flewn in by helicopter.
The hut was packed and the staff rushed around without showing any sign of being stressed.
However, I perceive the place as noisy and my claustrophobic side soon tells me to leave the busy dining hall ...
Up at 2 in the morning and ready to go about 2:30; definitely not my favorite time of the day to start walking.
Alfred walks in front, and I feel lucky about the moderate pace. However, with gaining altitude quickly I get tired ... my muscles are weak and scream for rests ... no chance.
We pass the huge glacier area and finally, we reach the helicopter place at about 4000 m. The day before two Japanese women tried to climb form Dufourspitze from there ... one gave up just after arrival and the other one struggled hard to make it to the top.
I struggel too, but in the end the words of his Holiness the Dalai Lama help me ..."never give up"
A bit of climbing along the ridge and we arrive at the summit; about 10 in the morning.
The views are breat-taking and the eternal world of mountains unfolds below me.
Back down to the Monte Rosa hut I decide to hurry down to Zermatt ..... I just make it to the Gornergrat Train that leaves Rotenboden at 18:00. A great day .... a perfect day .... a long day.
|Posted on July 21, 2013 at 2:45 AM||comments (0)|
Furkapass was hard; I mean really hard. Cars, busses, motorcyclists and semi professional cyclists were passing me at high speed --- scaring the wits out of me. Additionally, there was no flat part for about 15 km; just up, up, up.
An elderly man on a bike came with the encouraging remark "only one kilometer to the top" ... great, but exhausted as I was by then, it was one of these kilometers with 5000 metres.
Long ride down to Brig; again on the raod since the cycle path was no more than an off road track; not suited for 35 kg luggage.
Only 40 odd km left to Zermatt; up the mountain - again. By now I have understood that not the mountains are the big challange but the mountain passes I habe to cross.
|Posted on July 19, 2013 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
Well, of course a kilometer has 1000 metres, but sometimes it seems to have 5000 .... like today.
Cycling up the pass took time, since every kilometer had 5000 metres, but at one point I had reached the highest point and a lond ride down to Andermatt was a nice reward.
To avoid the risk of boiling brakes I stopped on the way down and waved to seemingly 200 Japanese tourists who were on a train journey with the Glacier Express.
An approaching thunderstorm made me stopin a small village outside Andermatt.
Furka Pass willbe the great challange tomorrow.