Mont Blanc preparations

I woke up this morning with the rain drumming on the roof of the van, once again thinking we must be absolutely nuts! It’s cold, grey and raining – probably snowing up the mountain, much like it was yesterday when we headed up the Aguille de Midi for a bit of acclimatisation in the wind and snow. It’s looking like we’ll get a narrow weather window next week, so we need to get the acclimatisation in now.

Checking out the knife edge arete - is that a smile or a grimace of fear?

This cold snap should reduce the risk of rock fall, even if we may be trudging through powder to get to the top. It’s not going to make the arete down from the lift station any better though. I was genuinely terrified when I went down it in June and it’s even worse now – it looks like a knife edge.

The big thing now is to assemble all the kit. I resisted the temptation to buy the down filled mini skirt at Vielle Campeur, and limited myself to a new head torch, energy supplements and climbing trousers. We’ve stocked up on food – carbs galore, enough food between two of us to feed a small family for a week. I’m also investing in a proper pair of mountain boots. I’ll do a full kit list post before we go.

Obviously the most important thing is weight – and the heaviest thing is my flying kit. I’m really looking forward to getting my wing – I’ve been promised a lightweight wing from Ozone, which is almost certainly my best bet for getting ice back from the summit to Maison du Moulin. It looks like we’re heading off tomorrow, so I’m really keeping my fingers crossed it arrives today, otherwise logistics are going to be VERY interesting…

The guys I'll be cooped up with for the next few days - lucky they seem like a good bunch!
The guys I'll be cooped up with for the next few days - lucky they seem like a good bunch!

There’s still some running around to do, but everything’s falling into place. I think we’re nuts! I’m nervous about the whole adventure. Will my kit be suitable? Am I fit enough? I haven’t done any real training, other than stomping around the mountains for a few months, being generally bouncy and hyperactive and splashing around the lake. But I’ve met the lads and don’t seem to be too far behind them in terms of fitness. And Irwyn’s taken me up the mountain before and has faith in me and that gives me confidence in myself…

Exciting possibilities…

Heading up to the Aguille de Tour
My first proper bit of mountaineering – heading up to Aguille de Tour

I wasn’t really keen on the idea of flying off Mont Blanc. Or, more accurately, the flight should be awesome, but I had my first mountaineering expedition last month and it was tough and it hurt. I wasn’t sure I was up for walking up to the top.

But I’m easily led! As I talked it through with Irwyn, it started to become a real possibility. And rather than a simple flight straight down into Chamonix, we started to think about ways to make it a little bit more interesting…

So now I’ve accepted the challenge. And the challenge is to launch from the top of Mont Blanc with some ice from the top, and get it back to Maison du Moulin in Annecy for the post flight drinks. It’s just over an 11:1 glide from the top – with a bit of a tail wind and little bit of lift, it’s tantalisingly close.

Mont Blanc at sunrise
Mont Blanc – an exciting possibility or a really daft idea?

Now, I’m scrabbling around for lightweight kit, working out how I can juggle a bit of training around an almost equally exciting visit from my big sister and, most importantly of all, where in France I can get some decent rum for my post flight drink!

Watch this space for updates or see Irwyn’s blog