Tuesday, 18 January 2011


So we're in Cogne, Italy and the forecast is for cold but clear weather on the way - perfect, as there are more than enough climbs to keep us happy here for quite some time!

Day one didn't quite go as expected, however. We picked a great route in lovely condition, there was perfect weather and although there were a few parties ahead of us, they were friendly.
E Tutto Relativo

But ... first of all, we realised we were an ice screw down. We don't know where it wandered off to, but it's gone. Gear goes missing when you're using it all the time - it gets caught in one of the many layers of clothing, or isn't clipped properly to the harness, and it makes a bid for freedom. Annoying, as ice screws aren't cheap, but it happens - and we've found our fair share of gear here and there in the past, so the cycle continues.

Jen lead the first two pitches of easy and fun ice, and we sat under some the large pine trees with a cup of tea watching the Germans and then the British parties set off up the steep, free-standing ice pillar that is the third pitch. Mark lead this without a hitch, and we thought the day was going fabulously.

Self portrait to check my handiwork

Shortly after setting off, Jen drove her right axe too far into the ice. So she worked her way up to it, got balanced and tried to wriggle it up and down to get it free. It popped out unexpectly early, and flew back ... to hit Jen in the lip. Annoyingly it wasn't the hammer - it was the adze, so the force was a thin edge that sliced her lip open.

Blood and pain: Jen wasn't a happy camper!

She didn't fall off and continued up the pillar, feeling a little shaken up but convinced it wasn't too bad. Mark's face on seeing her lip made her think otherwise! However we did finish the route, with Mark leading the remaining ice pitch, and walked off around the back.

We thought that a bit of ice to numb the area (well, it was in abundance!), a butterfly clip and a medicinal hot chocolate would be enough - however, our fabulous expedition doctor (Dr Steph!) explained as the cut was through the edge of the lip, it would most likely need a stitch and we should get it checked out.

Thankfully, the Cogne doctors' surgery is open late one night of the week - Tuesdays! - and one stitch was quickly put in. Whilst the local doctor was very sweet and sympathetic, no anaesthetic meant this really hurt - more than the original injury, Jen's sure - and Jen felt pretty sheepish, sore and sorry for herself by the end of the day.

Perhaps its time for her to upgrade to ice tools without an adze or hammer - is this the excuse she's been looking for?!

1 comment:

  1. Ouch damn, looks nasty. Well done for soldiering on Jen - i'd have tried to get medi-vaked out of there :-)