Archive for Abele Blanc

on Monte Rosa [a failed attempt at speed climbing]

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by xi'an

With my daughter Rachel and her friend Clément, we tried last week to bag a few summits in the Monte Rosa massif, which stands between Italy (Aosta) and Switzerland (Zermatt). I wanted to take advantage of the Bastille Day break and we drove from Paris to Aosta in the very early morning, stopping in Chamonix to rent shoes and crampons, and meeting with our guide Abele Blanc at noon, before going together to the hut Rifugio Città di Mantova. At 3500m. Our goal was to spent the night there and climb to Punta Gnifetti (Rifugio Margherita) and Zumstein the next morning. Before heading back to Paris in the evening. However, it did not work out that way as I got a slight bout of mountain sickness that left me migrainous, nauseous, and having a pretty bad night, despite great conditions at the hut… So (despite my intense training of the previous weeks!) I did not feel that great when we left the hut at 5am. The weather was fine if cold and windy, but after two hours of moderate climbing in a fairly pleasant crispy snow of a glacier, Rachel was too out of breath to continue and Abele realised my nose had [truly] frozen (I could not feel anything!) and took us down before continuing with Clément to both peaks. This was quite a disappointment as we had planned this trip over several months, but it was clearly for the best as my fingers were definitely close to frozen (with my worst case ever of screamin’ barfies on the way down!). And we thus spent the rest of the morning waiting for our friends, warming up with tea in the sunshine. Upon reflection, planning one extra day of acclimatisation to altitude and cold would have been more reasonable and keeping handwarmers in our backpacks as well… In any case, Clément made it to the top with Abele and we got a good altitude training for the incoming San Francisco half-marathon. Plus an epic hike the next day around Cogne.

sunset over Rifugio Città di Mantova

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , on July 22, 2016 by xi'an

up to Rifugio Città di Mantova

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2016 by xi'an

Abele Blanc tops Everest

Posted in Mountains with tags , , , on May 25, 2010 by xi'an

From the website Forte di Bard today:

Abele Blanc in cima all’Everest senza ossigeno.

Abele Blanc, Marco Camandona, Michele Enzio e Silvio Mondinelli raggiungono la vetta, immersa nelle nubi, in una mattina di discrete condizioni meteo. Ora la lunghissima discesa verso il campo base.

So they have at last reached Everest from the North side after many days of waiting for a proper weather window. The website of Silvio Mondinelli states that Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner topped with them. Remember this is only a training climb before Abele Blanc attempts Annapurna for the sixth time…

Abele Blanc’s new attempt on Annapurna

Posted in Mountains, Travel with tags , , , on April 25, 2010 by xi'an

The guide we met last summer in Aosta, Abele Blanc, is now back to the Himalayas to try his last 8000’s, Annapurna, for the 6th time. The expedition is monitored on the site of Fort di Bard. He plans to climb the north (TIbetan) face of Everest to acclimatise (!) before attempting Annapurna in May. Without oxygen. For the Everest climb, he is part of a team involving Silvio Mondinelli, another Italian climber who reached all 8000’s.

Aosta [hike 3.2]

Posted in Mountains, Travel with tags , , on July 27, 2009 by xi'an

Parnassius apollo (C.) Abele BlancWe have received in the mail this weekend a cd of the pictures taken by our mountain guide Abele Blanc during the hike last week and they are superb, like the one above of the Parnassius Apollo butterfly, which is one of the emblems of the Gran Paradiso National Park and which mostly dwells in Aosta and in the nearby Valais.

Aosta [hike 3: no Grivola!]

Posted in Mountains, Travel with tags , , on July 19, 2009 by xi'an

pict6607My last lecture over in Cogne, I “ran” up to Refugio Vittoria Sella to meet my guide, to whom I had been introduced by the organiser of the course, Achaz von Hardenberg. This guide happened to be the very impressive mountaineer Abele Blanc, who is one of the twenty men in the World to have climbed thirteen of the fourteen 8000’s. I thus felt a bit shy at wasting his time with my low level climbing experience but he was both very professional and very patient in his guiding. Meeting him was an remarkable moment, for his intense personality is of a quality I rarely met. Climbing with Abele, albeit too briefly, was thus the experience of a lifetime, even though we could not meet our climbing goal, and I can only wish I have the opportunity to repeat this experience in the future…

Col de la Noire

The climb (la course) we intended to make was La Grivola, an almost 4000’s (3969m) whose sharp features are quite attractive and whose (low) difficulty was within my abilities. However, a storm built up on most of the Alps on Friday afternoon and it stroke during the night. We had intended to leave the refuge at 1am, but snow was falling too heavily for us to get out then and we thus started close to 6am when the snow had abated and daylight made handling the more delicate passages possible. (It thus allowed us to get at least some sleep, for some excursioners have had a good time in the hall of the refuge till midnight!) In the first hour, we saw a group of seven chamois, including four yearlings, who had gone down to the altitude of the path because of the snow. The first delicate passage was about climbing the snow corridor visible on the above picture (taken on the previous afternoon), to Colle de la Nera (3491m). There was enough iced snow there to make climbing easy with crampons and one ice-pick, even though we had to rope up for the final steep bit of maybe 50-60 degrees. Once at the pass—it was then 8:30am and we had made a fairly good time so far—, the weather had not improved, with gusts of winds sending snow powder inside every crack of our clothes and bags—as on Ben Nevis in 2006, my Lowe Alpine jacket hood would not close!—and a very poor visibility on the Trajo Glacier. Abele took a look at the glacier and decided that crossing it would be too dangerous for crevices were covered with fresh snow and impossible to detect—unless too late! He then took me to La Punta Nera (3683m), visible on the left of the above picture, that was an easy climb up packed snow, for there is an alternative route to La Grivola that goes through La Punta Bianca with very little differential in altitude (compared with going down on the glacier). Unfortunately the windy conditions were such that attempting this technical ridge walk was also impossible…

Colle de la Nera

We thus went down to the pass, hoping for a miracle for there still was time to cross the glacier in good visibility conditions and to reach La Grivola in about two hours. As miracles rarely happen, Abele then decided to try for another peak on the other side of the pass, La Punta Rossa, to make the most of the day, but after fifteen minutes of walking on the side of the glacier, we hit bare ice where our mixed climbing crampons would not grip, as I quickly found with my first steps… We could thus only head back down to the bottom of the valley. Going down the snow corridor proved to be the hardest part of the climb as, after the 20 meters of steep hard snow, we hit recent snow covering rubble and loose slates that made my going very very slow. It is only when we hit the end of the snow line, at about 10:30am, that the weather started to lift, as seen on the above picture, but it would have been too late anyway. So, after a cup of tea at the refuge—above which we saw a lone chamois—, we rushed back to Valnontey, our starting point, that we reached at 1:30…

From Refugio Vittorio Sella

It is always a disappointment to have to turn back on a climb, but the weather and the difficulty always are the final judges! In the end, this still is a wonderful experience and I dearly hope to be able to come back to this Aosta valley to attempt La Grivola once again.

Trajo Glacier