A Hard Beasting of a Day

neil On August - 18 - 20101 COMMENT

We left the Albert Premier hut and headed for the Col De Balme. It was approx 5 miles through knee deep snow all up hill. The snow kept coming all day, thankfully the French had broken trail. After about 4 hours we got to the base of the Col, it looked huge disappearing into the sky, we headed up. I was really struggling now I hadn’t eaten anything and my water bottle was attached to the back of my pack out of reach and the altitude sickness hadn’t left. I felt very weak and tired. We pushed on for another half hour until we met the French coming back down. They asked us if we intended going up as they feared for avalanche, we said that we were trying to get to the Try’ent hut, they shook there heads and headed back down the Col, we headed up!

After approx 20 mins we came to the end of the broken trail, where the French had turned back, the snow know was about 4 feet deep, we did an avalanche check on the snow to which ‘Smiler’ said we have to go down it’s to dangerous. So we headed down, as we struggled through the snow I could hear voices shouting from the top of the Col, but I said nothing, as we reached the base of the Col we met the other British team, approx 8 of them all young and fit.

As the guides spoke I turned to look up the Col I could see 5 people coming down from the top, it Was the Italians, they had broken the trail and also eliminated any avalanche risk. The only thing now was that we had to go back up the ‘shitty’ Col, It was about -15 wind chill and the wind at the top must have been about 70 miles an hour but I wasn’t cold. We struggled on for about 2 more hours through the Col Sup De Tour and up the final really steep last part to the Tri’ent hut, I can honestly say that I have never in my life felt so exhausted and completely drained, on the last 200 mtrs my legs were screaming at me and I felt very unstable climbing the rocks to the hut, a much nicer hut! We were now in Switzerland.

Neil McDonald