|Aiguille du Bionnassay from Bellevue|
From here it was not far to the Plan du Glacier hut beyond which the route got interesting. The small hut sits at 2730m and appears to be built into the mountainside. There was no one about as I passed below and up some snow to the start of some fixed wire. The wire went up some easy scrambly ground then traversed a spur. After some snow fields and another spur I descended to the edge of the glacier where I geared up. I could see the point on the spur at the other side of the Glacier that I need to reach and moved quickly across. Glaciers and seracs have an unpredictability that makes me feel a bit uneasy, it's a positive fear as it spurs me on to travel over sections that I deem more dangerous with caution and speed. I Crossed the Glacier without event and reached the bottom of the spur that would take me up to the Col du Miage.
|The prominent spur centre right would take me up to the col. also, spot the hut!|
At around 0200 I stood in front of the Druier hut in a strong southerly breeze. It Is a small hut that used to be unmanned but now has a guardian. I didn't try to enter as there would likely be people inside sleeping so I continued past and towards the start of the ridge. Sadly there was around 20cm of soft snow and despite attempting upwards progress on 3 separate occasions I was simply too exhausted to break a trail. I had some food and thought about my options. Every now and again a sudden flash of light would light up the snow fields and clouds beyond, this turned out to be lightning storms in the north of Italy. After some thought I pretty much decided I was done but would spend the night on the col until at least first light. I could decide what to do then. This plan did however leave me with a bit of a problem. With the exception of a thin pull out mat that forms the backrest of my rucksack, I had no bivouac equipment! So putting on every thread of clothing I had and stuffing my feet into a gear sack, a dry sack and my rucksack I lay down in a slightly sheltered part of the col and slept.
Around 0400 I woke. It was still dark and clouds now covered the stars. Still lying down I peered over some rocks down to the hut. To my surprise there were head torches moving about. I felt a lot better and rested so decided to get ready to begin moving again. I was almost ready when a pair reached me. One of them spoke to me, he seemed like a guide and he asked me a few questions probably trying to work out what the hell I was doing there but he was friendly enough. They continued on and I finished off sorting out my existence. I followed them up about 15 minutes after they had passed me. I felt good and they had broken trail which saved me untold volumes of effort. After about an hour I felt a bit of hot aches in my foot, I had not felt cold but my extremities could easily have frozen up while I slept and the result could be some frostnip. The experienced pain lacked the usual severity of blood recirculation which worried me, while hot aches are not nice they at least prove that you still have feeling where you should! The lower part of the ridge is quite broad but much of it was corniced. Around 0500 more head torches appeared at the col and headed towards the Domes du Miages at the west end. The ridge begins to narrow about halfway up and contains some easy rocky sections before a beautiful snow arete is crossed. The snow was still soft so this felt quite delicate but I was in no rush as the sun was not even up yet. Soon I found myself at the foot of a towering rock buttress.
|A climber on the Crux move of the rock section|
|the Miage side of Mont Blanc|
|Looking down the South Ridge from the abseil point|
|Me at the Col du Miage after summiting|
|Aiguille de Bionnassay from the Dome Du Gouter|
|The Rock buttress on the South Ridge|
|looking down on the Glacier below the rib|
|The South Ridge of the Aig. de Bionnassay and Mont Blanc|