15 October 2005

Domes de Miage

(Cet article en Fran├žais)
panoramic - Mont-Blanc
We meet on Friday late afternoon at Alex's place. At 17:00 Olivier informs us he has some urgent business he has to attend to, and will join us later, so we leisurely make our way to Les Contamines-Montjoie, stopping on the way to consume a pizza.
We start walking at half past eight, towards Le Refuge des Conscrits. Our headlamps make small circles on the path in the shade of the moon. When we get to parts of the path that are better oriented, we can swith off the artificial lights and walk using the moonlight. Monday will be full moon, so it is very bright tonight.
We get to Le Refuge de Tre-La-Tete at about 21:30, and the people there seem to think we're slightly mad to go to the next refuge at this time.
We continue our ascent and soon get to the glacier. The progression is made awkward by the gravel, stones and unstable rocks on the ice, but we soon get to more compact ice and we put our crampons on. We now progress over steeper slopes, but more regularly. We hesitate a few times, but finaly find the path that leaves the glacier and winds its way to the refuge.
It's well past midnight when we get there and supper is a quick affair, far removed from gastronomy.
I decide to sleep outside, as a training excercise for our upcoming Aconcagua expedition. The temperature is just below freezing. We get up as the sky starts to lighten on the horizon, it must be just after 7:00, and start our ascent after breakfast.
Not the corporate ladder...
We first climb up L'aiguille de la Berangere (3???m), then down to Le Col ???, where we overlook Les Contamines (our tracks in the snow are visible from the valley) and we get to the top of the first Dome shortly after 12:30.
Group photo
Unfortunately, the wind is too strong, we can't take off from there. We start the long descent on the glacier. When we are about to reach the refuge, the small hill just above seems like it could be a good take-off point. We check it out and decide to go further along the slope, to the top of ???

The wind is in a right direction there, and we quickly set-up our wings. I'm supposed to go first, but as I pull my wing up, one of the back lines snags on a sharp stone and snaps. It's only a break-line, just outside of the middle of the wing, so I decide to take off nevertheless. In the meantime, both Alex and Olivia and Michael have taken off. There is only me and Olivier left. I take off and veer to the right, to follow the side of the valley as close as possible as we suspect the downwind is quite stong above the glacier.
In flight

I get som lift straight after take off, and then later as I get to the main valley, but not enough to extend my flight by a significant time. The bottom of the valley is already getting dark when I land in the small field under our parking spot.

A very good outing overall...

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