Posted by: pointlenana | August 27, 2014

Chamonix In Pictures

Yesterday was kind of a miserable day, weather-wise.  Raining on and off all day, mostly on, and pretty wet when it was on.  We were very pleased when we woke up today and saw hints of clearing.  Here’s our day, in pictures

Shortly after we woke up.  This is looking promising.  Might as well go hiking...

Shortly after we woke up. This is looking promising. Might as well go hiking…

 

Walking up to the cable car station, we can see Mont Blanc for the first time.  It's that snow covered peak towards the right.  15781 feet high.  That banner makes it look like there's some kind of event going on this week.

Walking up to the cable car station, we can see Mont Blanc for the first time. It’s that snow covered peak towards the right. 15781 feet high, about 6 miles from us.  That banner on the bridge makes it look like there’s some kind of event going on this week.

We're going to cheat and let that gondola on the right take us up 3000 feet.

We’re going to cheat and let that gondola on the right take us up 3000 feet.

Looking straight up - Parapente/paragliding is one of the extreme sports available here.

Looking straight up – Parapente/paragliding is one of the extreme sports available here.

We rode up in those cable cars.

We rode up in those cable cars.

Looking further up towards Le Brevant.  It's about 1500 feet up, right around 8500 feet which is about as high as I'll get during UTMB.

Looking further up towards Le Brevant. It’s about 1500 feet up, right around 8500 feet which is about as high as I’ll get during UTMB.

The paragliders were taking off just above the cable car station.  This video shows a girl taking off with her guide:

This is where we are going to hike - the Grand Balcon Sud.  We're aiming for the La Flegere refuge, which is just barely visible on the ridge past the end of the road on the lower right.  But first...

This is where we are going to hike – the Grand Balcon Sud. We’re aiming for the La Flegere refuge, which is just barely visible on the ridge past the end of the road on the lower right. But first…

Since we're up here, we might as well hike up further.  This is on the trail to the Col du Brevet.  We never made it to the Col but it gave us some even more awesome views.

Since we’re up here, we might as well hike up further. This is on the trail to the Col du Brevet. We never made it to the Col but the extra 1000 feet of elevation gave us some even more awesome views.

That little red and white stripe painted on the rock is the Trail du Mont Blanc trail marking.  The TMB runs around Mont Blanc, and is the trail we'll be following.  The trails are centuries old, used by people to navigate between mountain villages.

That little red and white stripe painted on the rock is the trail marker for Trail du Mont Blanc. The TMB runs around Mont Blanc, and is the trail we’ll be following during UTMB. The trails are centuries old, used by people to navigate between mountain villages.

I don’t think these pictures really show how steep it is around here.  Maybe this video gives a better sense.  People say that the Europeans don’t believe in switchbacks.  As you can see, they do have switchbacks, but the trails that go up go UP quickly.

Getting further up the trail to the Col.  We didn't move very fast - too many picture breaks.

Getting further up the trail to the Col. We didn’t move very fast – too many picture breaks.

Finally back down on the trail to La Flegere.  We couldn't figure out what those metallic "guardrails" were - some kind of avalanche control for the ski season?

Finally back down on the trail to La Flegere. We couldn’t figure out what those metallic “guardrails” in the distance were – some kind of avalanche control for the ski season?  Those are all ski slopes.

Looking down into Chamonix.  We've come from the top right.

Looking down into Chamonix. We’ve come from the top right.

About to round the ridge, into the Charlanon valley.  That valley in the distance between the mountains is the Valle Blanche.  More on that in a bit.  In this picture, this Valle Blanch is flanked on the left by a pointy spire.  That's the Dru.  People have been putting up very hard climbs there for 70+ years, although some of those climbs were wiped out by a big rockfall in the 90s.

About to round the ridge, into the Charlanon valley. That valley in the distance between the mountains is the Valle Blanche. More on that in a bit. In this picture, this Valle Blanch is flanked on the left by a pointy spire (second highest peak on the left). That’s the Dru. People have been putting up very hard climbs there for 70+ years, although some of those climbs were wiped out by a big rockfall in the 90s.

This could almost be the Cascades.

This could almost be the Cascades.

Another mystery during the hike - why the big rock wall running down the middle of the slope?  My theory is that they moved these rocks out of the slope to smooth out the runs and keep the season open longer.

Another mystery during the hike – why the big rock wall running down the middle of the slope? My theory is that they moved these rocks out of the slope to smooth out the runs and keep the season open longer.

Looking further up the Valle Blanch.  That snowy peak in the distance is the Grand Jorasses (looking at the north face).  That's another of the peaks on the short list of classic Alpine climbs - Grand Jorasses, the Petit Dru, the Eiger, maybe 2 or 3 more and that's the list.

Looking further up the Valle Blanch. That snowy peak in the distance is the Grand Jorasses (looking at the north face). That’s another of the peaks on the short list of classic Alpine climbs – Grand Jorasses, the Petit Dru, the Eiger, maybe 2 or 3 more and that’s the list.

As we were approaching La Flegere, we came across this guy taking pictures with another couple.  We stopped and after they were done, he said "I'm famous in my own mind".  I asked if he was famous to anyone else, and he said confessed to being Michael Wardian.  I.e. the guy who won the Big Sur Marathon when Janet and I ran it in April, plus a lengthy resume of other incredible performances.  He's 40, i.e. a masters/old guy runner, still kicking butt.

As we were approaching La Flegere, we came across this guy taking pictures with another couple. We stopped and after they were done, he said “I’m famous in my own mind”. I asked if he was famous to anyone else, and he confessed to being Michael Wardian. I.e. the guy who won the Big Sur Marathon when Janet and I ran it in April, plus a lengthy resume of other incredible performances. He’s 40, i.e. a masters/old guy runner, still kicking butt.

The Refuge at La Flegere.  I will see this again Sunday morning sometime around sunrise if all goes well.

The Refuge at La Flegere. I will see this again Sunday morning sometime around sunrise if all goes well.

A good view up the Valle Blanch (the Dru is the pointy peak on the left).  In the winter and/or before global warming, there is snow/glacier all the way from the Grand Jorasses in the distance to the valley's exit in the foreground.  People take the gondola up to the Aiguille du Midi, and then ski down - a 22k/14 mile ski run.

A good view up the Valle Blanch (the Dru is the pointy peak on the left). In the winter and/or before global warming, there is snow/glacier all the way from the Grand Jorasses in the distance to the valley’s exit in the foreground. People take the gondola up to the Aiguille du Midi, and then ski down – a 22k/14 mile ski run.

The bread, soup and cheese that those people were having looked so good that we ordered some too.

The bread, soup and cheese that those people were having looked so good that we ordered some too.

Plus a blueberry tart.

Plus a blueberry tart.

Looking back at Chamonix and Mont Blanc (while eating that blueberry tart).

Looking back at Chamonix and Mont Blanc (while eating that blueberry tart).

This is a little blurry, but it's the trail from La Flegere to Chamonix.  I'll be running this again Sunday morning.  Unfortunately it was more rocky and rooty than I had hoped it would be.  And kind of steep.  "Running" may mean walking.

This is a little blurry, but it’s the trail from La Flegere to Chamonix. I’ll be running this again early Sunday morning (possibly in the dark if I have a great race).  Unfortunately it was more rocky and rooty than I had hoped it would be. And kind of steep. “Running” may mean walking.

The second celebrity encounter of the day.  At the bib pick up, I ended up next to Meghan Arbogast.  She's about my age but much much faster than me, and actually wins races.  I asked if she was ready for UTMB - she's run it twice before - and she said "there's no way you can really be ready for this".

The second celebrity encounter of the day. At the bib pick up, I ended up next to Meghan Arbogast. She’s about my age but much much faster than me, and actually wins races. I asked if she is ready for UTMB – she’s run it twice before – and she said “there’s no way you can really be ready for this”.

My backpack and I are both officially tagged now.

My backpack and I are both officially tagged now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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