Up early to head off for city airport. Met Matthew on the tube and we checked in together, and got breakfast while we were waiting for our slightly delayed flight. Simon joined us here and we met Tamas, Craig and Gavin on boarding and by coincidence Gavin sat with us for the flight on the rather bumpy swiss air jet. Touched down in Geneva just after 11am which was 1 hour ahead of english time, and got into a minibus to take us to Chamonix, some stunning mountain views were seen on the way. We arrived early so shopped around town and had a few beers in a sandwhich shop along with crepes for me and burgers for all the guys. We got to icicle met Sarah and Kingsley, got kitted out, with boots and kit and shown to our chalets. I was sharing with Tamas which was lucky as the others guys were four in a room. We joined up with icicle guys and some guys who had finished their ski holiday to go to the microbrewery. Here we had steak and giant 5 litre beer giraffes we bought with the kitty. Afyerwards we headed back to town and got some beer in the south bar quite close to the apartments. Only me , Matthew and Gavin made it past 11pm.
Up early, me and Tamas were first into the icicle offices for breakfast of toast and cereal. We were given our briefing, by Sarah and Kingsley. On belaying and stowing ice axes on our bags. We picked up our snow shoes as the weather meant we would need them and we set off to the train station. Tamas and me bought the traintickets which were 16 euros each and we met Frank our french canadian guide for the day. The travel up the mountain was quite picturesque and when we got to the top there was a restaurant and a chance to adjust kit before getting on the cable car down to the ice field. After we got down the cable car we still had a long way to go down the steps to get to the ice field.
We got roped up then and got our snow shoes on so Tamas could rescue his helmet. We then headed of up the third largest glacier in the alps the Mer de Glace, roped together in one group of 4 and one of 3, I was behind Gavin and in front of Craig and it was quite some technique to keep the rope at the right tension. After about 30mins we made it to some small furrows of ice about 15 to 20 ft. there we took our snow shoes off and put our crampons on. And preceded to practice traversing up the ice keeping all 10 points of contact and using the ice axe. On the way down on snow you really dug your heels into the snow. After that had a quick go at climbing up just using the classic ice axe and that was fine. I then spent some time being rescued from a crevase and then it was Tamas's turn. After that bit more ice climbing on the steepest stuff, first with classic ice axe, and then 2 technical axes which made the job very easy.
It had however started to snow hard and so we roped up to head back, my hands were freezing at one point but the ability to blow into the gloves and warm your hands up helped a lot. On the way back I led with Matthew behind me on the rope we progressed down the glacier ok, and checked out an ice tunnel, then a man made one, with exhibits in. We climbed back up the steps then and got onto the last but one cable car as they were closing it due to the weather. We caught the train down at 3pm then, and Matthew and Gavin got in a bit of a kip on the train as the view was obscured by ice. Back then to the apartment and a quick kip for Tamas and drying out of kit for me. Then back to the icicle office for more instruction on knots and stuff, then round the corner to the restaurant Tetras, that gave us free beer with our food. We moved on then to chamber nine for a few beers. Before finally moving on to Bard up, again just me, Matthew and Gavin by this time. We lost Graig and Tamas in the previous bar, and Simon had stopped to talk to some friends in the restaurant.
Up early and down to breakfast at 7.30am. Then we checked out and got our ski poles and ran to meet Frank who had helped us jump the cable car queue by an hour and a half. We were given avalanche transceivers as the avanlache threat was rated 4 out of 5, the previous day and an avalanche is more likely after fresh snow, which had fallen yesterday. It certainly was an impressive double cable car system up the Aguille de Midi. The final restaurant was at 3,847 metres. We kitted up and headed down some very steep snow which was roped but was very difficult for the skiers but was relatively easy for us with our crampons on, once away from the skiers we switched to snow shoes and preceded generally downwards along a serious of ridges. Frank showed us how to make a belay from a hole and some snow shoes. Then we preceeded on down dropping nearly 500 metres. I stopped for a yellow snow break and we all stopped for a very quick snack when we realised we had to get Gavin back in time for his flight. The weather of couse picked up at this point and as we pushed on up the mountain to return to the cable car we encountered snow in sub zero winds. Making progress very difficult, Tamas was in front of me and I was keeping the rope slack on him as much as possible but it felt like I was continuously pulling the guys behind me up the moutain. Things seemed to get a bit dicey on a very steep ridge that Matthew and Simon kept falling on, it almost looked like we had got stuck, you couldn't see the cable car or anything we were headed for, and Frank seemed to be getting a bit upset. But we did get over the top of it and did a lot better when the snow hardened and we could swap to crampons. The final accent of the steep slope back to the cable car was very tiring though with some large steps . When we got in people were fairly relieved looking. Gavin had to dash for the cable car and Graig was suffering a lot with his hands which had got very cold, and the returning circulation was very painful. We had a few bites to eat in the restaurant and made our way down via the cable car. We got back to icicle and checked in our gear and boots and they walked us across to our hotel. Myself and Matthew shared a room and Craig and Tamas paid more for separate rooms. We had a shower and a kip then tried to go to the microbrewery again but it was too full so we went to the pizza place near the hotel which was very nice. On the way we heard the loud crack of two avalanches. Afterwards we went to a bar with a live singer for a couple of beers then braved the rain to get to the red horse pub. By this time it was just down to me and Matthew we finally ended up at the chamber Neuf again that closed at 1am.
Woken up at 8am by some roadworks outside our hotel. But by this time the others had already hear 5 separate avalanches. We had breakfast of bread and coffee in the hotel, then set off for a hard morning of gear shopping, Matthew getting some carabiners and the like. I also picked up some french chocolate for Ballu and got some books and photos of the areas we had been. We stopped at a café for coffee and spicey wedges, then back the red horse for a beer, before lunch at the restaurant of the previous night were we saw Craig and Tamas returning from their skiing and walking respectively we picked up our bags and got the minibus and picked up Simon outside Icicle were he was returning the snowboard he hired. The drive was uneventful and we had plenty of time at Geneva airport but I just bought some Swiss chocolate for Ballu. The return flight got us back at 7.20pm and I had got home had a shower and was at Mile end to give Ballu her chocolates by 8.30pm.