- Route: Goûter (Voie Des Cristalliers / Voie Royale)
- Grade: PD
- Team: Wojciech (PL), Wampir (PL), Charek (PL) and me (RSA/UK)
- Base Camp: Mer de Glace campsite, Chamonix
- Distance: circa 15km (round trip)
- 2436m ascent (Bellevue – summit)
Day 0 – Acclimatisation – 13.08.2016
Our first full day in Chamonix, having arrived the previous day from the UK via Geneva and setting up camp at the Mer de Glace campsite in Les Praz, Chamonix. We caught the cablecar from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi. The Midi station is at 3842m altitude, and coming from the UK, we certainly felt the altitude, with shortness of breath and a raised heart rate. We spent a couple of hours at this altitude, walking around and relaxing. We then headed back down to the valley for rest and packing.
Day 1 – Bellevue to Refuge de Tête Rousse – 14.08.2016
Departing the campsite, we headed by bus to Les Houches, where we took the cable car to the Bellevue station. From here we picked up the Tramway du Mont Blanc to the Nid d’Aigle at 2372m. This was the start ‘proper’ for our day 1 climb up to the Refuge de Tête Rousse. The first point of interest along the climb was the Baraque Forestière des Rognes, a small unmanned hut. From here we climbed the ridge of the Aiguille du Goûter. At the top of the ridge we passed the warden’s hut. Here we were warned that the Tête Rousse was full. We proceeded, fully expecting to bivi outside the hut (this was acceptable at the time, although you needed a Goûter booking). We continued to cross the Tête Rousse glacier to reach the refuge. We arrived at the hut around lunchtime and had lunch overlooking the Glacier de Bionnassay, with particular focus on the parties crossing the Grand Couloir, the notorious start of our day 2. At around sunset, the hut keeper kindly offered us some space in the hut due to no shows. This invitation was well received.
Day 2 – Refuge de Tête Rousse to Refuge du Goûter – 15.08.2016
A night of poor sleep due to the altitude and noisy hut mates. We managed to lighten our loads by storing items at the hut. The day started with a traverse along the edge of the Tête Rousse glacier towards the Grand Couloir. The couloir was pretty quiet early in the early morning and after a bit of a dash we were on the other side, relatively safe. We started up the ridge towards the Refuge du Goûter at 3847m. It suddenly feels Alpine and game on for the summit.
Day 3 – Refuge du Goûter to Mont Blanc summit and back to Bellevue – 16.08.2016
Another night of poor sleep. More noise in the refuge and it seems like everyone needs to get up to go to the toilet. An alpine start with head torches. An exciting day ahead. Starting to feeling the effects of altitude with as headache that won’t shift. Roped up as a 4-man team for glacial travel.