9.28.2014

haute cime (3257m)


The alarm sounded too early this morning, so we waited a bit before rolling downstairs for coffee and cereal. We planned to take a hike near Chamonix, but as we ate and watched the light fill the sky, we decided that today was our chance for a long anticipated trip to Dents du Midi. We hurriedly stuffed our packs, checked the route map, and planned to travel light and quick. We were on the trail a little after 10, later than we'd like, but we were there. After parking in Champéry, we started on foot along the road to the trail head, noticing posts for the Trail des Dents du Midi held last weekend. As we began our hike, the trail invited us to jog, so we started moving a bit faster, hiking some, but mostly running or easy scrambling. 


After two hours we reached Refuge Susanfe. Derek couldn't resist the offer of raclette, so we took a short break to sit in the sun beside a sleeping mountain dog and enjoy the view.


We couldn't stop for long if we wanted to complete the trail before dark. We left the hut and continued the jog up to Col de Susanfe, where we pulled on another layer of clothing and began the slow climb up loose gray scree. 


There were several hikers making their way down, and we found ways to maneuver around each other carefully on the sloping scree. I didn't take the camera out for this last section, as we worked our way over an unmarked trail, well worn in places, but easy to diverge into rock slides. For the entirety of the hike, we couldn't see our final goal until we were nearly upon it. After three false summits and a challenging final 800 meters of gain, we spotted the thin metal cross perched on a narrow tooth. What a view! We admired the snowy peaks across the Alps, and vertiginous drops between the rocks. Finally, we achieved a summit over 3000 meters this season!


The descent over the loose scree went better than I anticipated. Actually, I was fearful of the trip back down while we were on our way up, but it was easier to see a worn path and we didn't slip as much as I expected. We were the last ones to reach the summit for the day, and we knew if we jogged, we'd have plenty of time to reach town before dark. We couldn't resist a few photos with a backdrop of Mt. Blanc and crazy rock formations.


A few hikers, also making the descent, cheered as we raced down, down, down the rocky trail, finishing the 26 kilometer outing in about 8 hours including a lunch break and some photo stops. What a memorable day in the mountains!