With summer in full swing and being very keen to start some alpine climbs I meet up with James Clapham and his friend Jason to take on my first peak, Aiguille du Tour at 3,540m.
To get to the start of the route you arrive at Le Tour and head up to the left of the Le Tour glacier up the obvious path. This leads to the Albert Premier hut which you can stay in for a price. We opted to bivi just above the hut at about 2,800m near a small rock ridge.
It was a pretty sheltered spot but it did start to rain in the night and I woke up soaking wet and freezing cold at about 3am keen to get moving!
Setting off under head light at about 4:30am we plodded up the glacier to the start of the climb. Instead of climbing the classic summit route we opted to climb the Table couloir which is a grade or so higher and includes climbing up a 45-50′ couloir with a rock band in the middle and then traversing the ridge to the summit.
The route is shown in red.
Climbing this hard snow with one axe for my first time was very daunting and I was very nervous, especially during the rock band in the middle of the couloir.
James placed a few bits of gear in the rock band as there was a couple of tricky moves. We passed this fine and carried on up the couloir. At the top you head right towards the summit, traversing the ridge on both sides on rock and snow until you reach the summit.
For my first time walking in crampons and high altitude climbing there were some ropey moments, like walking across this exposed ridge!
Arriving at the summit at about 7:30/8 we just beat the crowds that had climbed the classic route.
Classic summit pose, Pleased to have completed my first alpine route.
The descent followed the traditional route down the swiss side, back on to the Le Tour glacier and then back down to Le Tour. It was very hot on the way down and I ended up being very sunburt after shaving my head the day before!
Thanks to James and Jason.