Saturday, 14 August 2010
We did a couple of snow camps this trip. We were the first on the Italian side in a while to really dig in, building a pretty spectacular snow wall (whilst all the other tent-dwellers looked on enviously before trying to replicate).
We don't have a great photo of it, but when we returned back to the tent at the end of the day, our straight, snow-brick walls had become Gaudi-esque - curving in towards the tent, due to a combination of a hot sun and strong winds, but thankfully not caving in!
Note the kitchen area, to the left.
And for the other on the Aiguille du Midi side, we merely needed to borrow a spade from one of the many other climbers there and dig out someone's old placement. We were spoiled for choice, really, and went for a hole with walls higher than the sides of the ten - we couldn't see the tent from a distance - that also had space for the "kitchen", of course!
We're not entirely sure whether you're "allowed" to pitch tents above the snow line in the Mt Blanc range - apparently you're meant to take your tent down during the day, and there is of course the issue of waste.
But the reality is that everyone camps up there, leaving their stuff in their tent whilst they climb, and considerate climbers sneak into the huts' loos when necessary. (Wardens of the huts may see this differently, but in the interests of keeping the glacier poo-free - I say: bugger the wardens, keep using their facilities and support the huts when finances allow!)
And in good weather, it's a lot quieter and cozier than a hut - with a much better chance of a good night's sleep!