On Top of Europe
By Sally Cudmore, APC General Manager
If you ever want to spend a holiday literally tied to your spouse and children, then this comes highly recommended (and the only kinks were in the rope)! Over the winter we decided to attempt a Mont Blanc summit in July, so the intervening months were spent training in the mountains around Cork – the Magillycuddy Reeks and the Galtees – in all weathers. Once in the Alps, we used the 1½ weeks before our summit attempt mountaineering and practicing on glaciers, to get use to the altitude and alpine conditions. We had chosen the slightly more challenging route called “La Traversée des 4000”, which involves crossing 4 peaks or cols over 4000m. The summit took 4days, 2½ days ascent from Chamonix valley (1100m) and 1½ days to descend. On the summit day, we arose at 12.45am in the mountain hut, Refuge des Cosmiques (3613m), for breakfast at 1am, and after donning all our equipment (harnesses, helmets, ropes, crampons, ice axes) we were on the ice by 2am with our head torches. We crossed Epaule du Tacul (4050m) at 4.30am, Col du Maudit (4345m) at 6.30am and Col de la Brenva (4303m) at 7.30am and summited at 10.10am, where the temperatures were estimated at -15C with wind chill. Breathing was a challenge with only 50% of the normal oxygen levels at that altitude. Time only for a quick “phew” photos and we descended via Dome du Gouter (4304m) on the other side. We arrived in the Refuge de Tete Rousse (3167m) at 5pm, exhausted, relieved and delighted, and completed the descent the following day. The Mont Blanc ascent was 3,500m, and we estimate we did 10,000m over our 2week holiday.
L-R: Hugo (13 years), Sally, Lena (15 years) and Vincent at the summit of Mont Blanc (4810m) at 10.10am on July 13th 2017