I’m back. After an extended trip on a boat that stretched to almost 2 months, I was psyched to get back to the Valley for some autumnal mountain magic. That said, I was also filled with anxiety that I was out of shape, unacclimatised and out of tune with the mountains. The Youths were talking about Desmaisons and endurance link ups while I just need to get out an climb some pitches and get back into it.
Fresh snow lay waiting to be cleared on the Midi and it was a familiar feeling loosing a couple of hours of my life, standing in the tram queue, though still somewhat preferable to the standing in the tube with someone’s sweaty armpit in your face on route to a day of boredom.
Stepping out on the arête was somewhat disorientating with the snow blower being used to clear the platforms creating a localised blizzard. The transformation from the flat sea world to the alpine vertical playground allowed gravity to make itself strongly felt as I took care going down the cham side of the arête. What would normally be a quick sprint to the Triangle was hard going as muscles pumped with lactic, a combination of the altitude and lack of use. Thoughts crept into my head of the mental battle ahead slogging back up to the Midi at the end of the day in the sun but there was fun to be had meantime.
James kicked off on the first pitch a quickly despatched a tasty pitch with grooves and flakes to wet the appetite. Dave then took up the challenge of a large open book corner. A tell tale sign of the battle ahead was the first metre of the walls coming out the corner had no lichen where a fat river of ice normally flows. James and myself got deep into conversation ignoring Youths continuous dialogue about how hard it was. It all seemed fine seconding, that is if you are into laybacking of sloppy axe jams in a 3 inch verglassed offwide with crampons smeared on crystals. I have to concede to Dave that it probably felt right spicey out there on the lead and well done to that man! After the batism I was ready to get on the sharp end and enjoyed getting moving on a more straightforward pitch allowing me to enjoy the climbing without being terrified. I reckon this was my first adrenaline rush in 2 months and felt so good to be back in the playground, sharing the day with friends and soaking up the views. It could have been a bit warmer though with a chilly wind making a nuisance of itself and making my glad I had my 6000s while the boys complained of cold feet. Romping back to the Midi didn’t feel that bad after all!