The AMC Alps trip took place in early June in Chamonix. As well as the official trip, there were also a large number of current and ex-AMC members in campsite with overlapping dates. Therefore we had a large AMC community in the Argentière campsite.
We were extremely fortunate with the weather and conditions this year. Most snow, ice and mixed routes were in fine condition, making these the theme of the trip.
The first day was the only questionable weather. It maybe the Scottish winter experience, but even a whiteout and under 20 meter visibility was not sufficient to stop us getting out on Pointes Lachenal Traverse (AD2) for a bit of early acclimatisation.
The rest of the first week was clear blue sky and low winds every day. Rich, Josh and Tom warmed up on classic Arete des Cosmiques (AD 3) while Adam and I continued out acclimatisation with the Midi Plan Traverse (AD 1).
Feeling more confident and acclimatised, Adam and I decided to step it up a gear with the classic Mallory-Portor (AD+ 3). This takes in 1,500 accent from the mid station, climbing up to Aiguille du Midi under the route of the cable car. Although technically straight forward, it’s a mostly unprotected, with wild exposer on the final snow field.
Rich, Josh and Tom had an extremely productive excursion to the Italian side, staying three nights in the Torino Hut and bagging two routes per day. These included classics Aiguille d’Entrèves (AD- 4c), Aiguilles Marbées Traverse (AD 4b) and Southeast ridge of Tour Ronde (AD 3+).
All routes on the Triangle du’Tacul were in great condition, and with this being a reasonable day trip we managed a few routes.
Adam and I bagged both Contamine-Grisolle (AD3) and more straight ice climbing on Contamine-Mazeud (AD+/D 3). Rich and Josh completed Contamine-Grisolle and continued all the way to du’Tacul summit at 4,248 m.
After one rest day and some easier routes on Aiguille Rouges Rich, Adam and I were ready to take on our main objective for the trip, the three day epic or Royal Traverse (AD+ 2). This takes a series of ridge lines, linking up Dômes de Miage, Aiguille du Bionnassay, over the summit of Mont Blanc, then down Trois Monts back to Aiguille du Midi.
The route starts with walk-in to the Conscripts Hut. Due to the low snow-line this year, we need to take the glacial route up to the hut.
From the first hut we start traverse the beautiful Dômes de Miage. Both the weather and snow conditions were sublime. We then continued along the ridge to the tiny and rustic Durrier Hut.
The final day was by far the biggest and most challenging of the three. We left the hut just after 3 AM to start up the Aiguille du Bionnassay. After the first steep snow slopes, we reached the rock step before first light. We crested the knife edge Bionnassay ridge at first light and were rewarded with a specular sun ride as we descended to the Col.
From the Col Du Bionnassay, we continued up to the Dôme du Goûter where we briefly joined the crowds on the popular Goûter for the final push to the Mont Blanc summit.
The phrase ‘the summit is only half way’ was certainly true of the final day the Royal Traverse. We still had the Trois Monts decent to go. Even this decent has a lot of up and down as you traverse Mt Maudit and Mont Blanc Du’Tacul. After the ever painful slog back up to the Aiguille du Midi, we made it back down to Chamonix for much needed beer and pizza.