Getting a few more Red Blood Cells never hurts, especially if you are going to do some mad endurance challenge up high. Georgie is doing exactly that.
The endurance running race season is on in the alps. The Marathon weekend has been and gone, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc series has just packed up after thousands of runners descended on the Chamonix Valley to test themselves against some of the hardest trail races in the world. The pinnacle race of this series is the UTMB - 168km of distance circumnavigating the Mont Blanc Massif with 10,000m of positive height gain to be completed in 48 hours. Georgie has completed two of the races in the UTMB series; the CCC - Courmayeur, Champex, Chamonix - this is 100km with 6100m of heigh gain. The TDS (twice) - Traces des Ducs de Savoie, starting in Courmayeur and finishing in Chamonix, 119km with 7250m of vertical height gain.
Shes not new to these sorts of races and next up for her is the Ultra Tour du Monte Rosa. This is 116km with 8500m of vertical height gain. This is a hard race. Starting in Cervinia in Italy and finishing in Grächen in Switzerland, it spends the majority of its time above 2000m with the some very high cols to go over along the way. Being Acclimatized is going to be the key! She started this race last year in bad shape, she had a massive mountain bike crash 10 days before. Starting the race with stitches in each limb, the left overs of concussion and generally a bit bent out of shape was ideal... She pulled out at 70km in an amazing 4th place, this was a super hard descision as she was doing really well.... Shes got unfinished business with this one!
Last week we caught the last lift up the Grands Montets with two friends, Sally and Hannah. This was a good night out for everyone, Sally and Hannah are heading off to Kirghistan next month for a mountaineering course and were keen to do a little glacial practice before they went.
After messing about with a little crampon work and ice climbing on the Glacier des Grands Montets we wandered over the glacier and an awesome bivi spot looking down the Chamonix Valley with the Aiguille verte and Les Dus watching over us. We were sleeping at 3100m, not too high to feel the bad effects of altitude and certainly high enough to do some good.
The last few season of hot summers and relatively low snow fall winters have taken their tolls on the mountains. We were shocked at the state of the glacier, the Col des Grands Montets is now just a pile of rubble with no glacier visable, the bergshrund that gards the entrance to the Glacier des Rognons is huge. Its going to take a lot of straw bales and constant early season snow to make that safely skiiable this winter...good luck Compagnie du Mont Blanc with that one...
It was to be a noise night with rock fall coming, almost constantly, off both the Verte and the Drus, the thundering noise and clouds of dust and sparks in the dark make you feel very small and vulnerable, we had picked a good safe bivi site away from any fall line danger so that helped us sleep soundly.