The weather looked good and we were both mentally set to head up to Tête Rousse BC right after breakfast. You can find the route we took for day 1 on Strava.
We hiked easily up to the train track junction of Mont Lachat and Col des Rognes. Right from the train track, there is a trail that goes upwards towards the left not straight up the train track. Hikers are not allowed to follow the train track during the busy summer however, it is okay in the off season when trains don’t run. It’s easy to see the main trail and the view opens up with view Chamonix valley. The last time we climbed up, we only went part ways and it felt awesome to pass that point this time around.
There was absolutely no one around. Our first goal for that day was to make it up to Col des Rognes. We didn’t know what to expect but as soon as we hit some steep boulders, not the round kinds but more of the ones with sharp edges we knew it was going to be tough. We are not technical climbers but consider ourselves advanced hikers based on experience in the mountains. The route to Tete Rousse is the farthest non-technical route can take without climbing gears. It’s a fun challenge for us, absolutely!
Passing through the bouldering section with a lot of good trail markers indicating where to go, we found a couple of camp sites. We also found some old ruins along the way. We looked up and saw the Col or the pass that we need to get to. A few switch backs and some hairy chains and cable sections that were pretty exposed to drops. I was a bit freaked out and continued on carefully holding on to the cables and chains when it was available. 200 meters to go and it kept getting steeper then we saw this long ladder to climb up to with a big drop underneath. My heart raced, feeling a bit scared about climbing up that ladder. The ladder was about 15 ft long! It required my concentration of holding on and as I climbed the ladder I felt my backpack weight. It was full concentration for me on going one step at a time while hunny as behind me. It was in these moments where hunny is my strength by not pressuring me to go faster and keeping me calm with motivating words along the way. He is very good at that!
Phew! It was done and as soon as we got up the ladder we can see the top. There was one hiker waiting for us to complete the ladder and said something in French but we could not understand him. The only hiker we’ve seen on this side of the Col. He climbed down the ladder and disappeared.
As soon as we crested the Col, we saw a lot of people on the base of our next goal the last hump to Tête Rousse BC. There were also a lot of Ibis scattered around the plains of rocks. We continued on the next steeper section of the climb.
It was busy on the trail heading up to Tête Rousse. Along the trails was an Ibis also using the trail to eat some plants right by the trail. It was just ahead of us as we climbed. Ibis are amazing when it comes to climbing on rocks! I wish I could climb that effortlessly.
We climbed and navigated some confusing trails. We reached some sort of tower then stopped by the info hut station, a small hut where we met Tsering Sherpa from Nepal who now resides in the French Alps. Tsering Sherpa is a guide and an ambassador of Mont Blanc. He is the person you would meet first before entering base camp and the refuge before crossing the glacier. We chatted a bit and he was such a delight to chat with! He gave us lots of good info about the camping area. The next part of our destination was walk through a small glacier before the campsite.
We crossed the glacier gingerly and crunched through the icy trail. There were some good running water from the melting ice along the way. This is where we would get our water and boil to drink, a recommendation from the Sherpa. It’s a light gray glacier water!
There were a few camping spots divided by walls of rocks as wind stoppers. The wind was blowing on and off but not as cold (yet!). We found our spot and set up our camp. Hunny got some glacier water and started the stove. We had a bit of a tough time with the stove. It cooked for a few minutes then turns off by itself. It must be the altitude and cold temperature causing it to behave erratically. Luckily, we were able to get about 3 boiling times for our ramen and tea. It pretty much crapped out the next morning leaving us with no boiled water. We had a very small amount of water we carried on the hike but that was it! Luckily, we drank pretty much over a liter of fluid on the way up so we were somewhat hydrated until the next morning.
I walked around a bit and found a few memorials of climbers with a beautiful view of Glacier Bionnassay. Right ahead is also a trail that goes up to Refuge Gouter which can also be seen from where we were. A beautiful refuge set on the edge of the glacier above. That is the next stop for climbers who were ascending Mont Blanc. We saw some climbers on their way up that afternoon. It’s a technical climbing section where climbing gears are mandated.
We both rested in the tent as the wind was on and off passing through. The sun started to set and we both watched it just like everyone else at camp. We watched the sun as it also watches over us. We think about our loved ones in life on the other side of the world. We see the same sun but from different places and connecting us in spirit. There’s a feeling of peace and calmness inside as we watch the sun gradually disappear in the mountains.
The few clouds that lingered earlier were blown away. It was time to head back to the tent and get a good night sleep. During the night, the wind blew hard for a few hours then completely stopped. We were both really warm as it wasn’t that cold outside.
We chatted about how our camping gears after a few years are still serving us well through many mountains. The feeling of being “home” for both of us was felt in the tent. We looked at each other without words and knew what each one of us were thinking. The mountains are tough and challenging however, taught us a lot about ourselves, our relationship, our life and what it means to be present in this amazing natural beauty. It was pure happiness and love of the mountains.
There is always magic in the mountains. We kissed and surrendered to the night. A good day is passed and a new day on it’s way.