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Busy Saturday

Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

Serac and Hut.jpg

The weekend was busy as expected here at Rifugio Boccalatte. Saturday brought us an interesting mix of local climbing heroes from both the French and Italian sides of the range. For a while we were over-booked and were offering places on the floor to sleep. It was hard to be certain what the weather was going to do and it kept us guessing until the last moment. A group of 4 canceled Saturday morning because of the uncertainty of the weather, which left our final dinner count at 21; 16 bound for the summit of the Grandes Jorasses and five planning to climb the Tour des Jorasses. The rain was intermittent up until 2am when the climbers usually wake to tackle the mountain. Upon exiting the hut, climbers encountered an eerie fog around the hut, which was too much for some who went back to bed. Much to the luck of all parties, the weather took a turn for the better making the climbing conditions better than they have been in years. In all, 14 summited on the Grandes Jorasses, 2 went back to bed, and the 5 found the Tour (a grade 6 rock climb) too wet to climb.

We have finally entered a more summer-like weather system; nice in the morning, rain and clouds in the afternoon. Today was particularly bad with thunderstorms and spells of downpours. It seems that the rain has excited some glacial activity and yesterday we woke to find a large ice-fall had broken off the Grandes Jorasses Glacier (the one behind the hut). A couple of very large compact-car-sized pieces slid 100m down the moraine and stopped in the middle of the hiking trail. Where the serac clove off the glacier you could very clearly see the stratification of years of ice accumulation.

Christophe Profit has made this his new summer home and staging point for his work as a guide. He was up again last night for the 4th time in a week and a half and is coming back tomorrow to climb the Tour. Much thanks to him, the business has been steady despite the uncertain weather and the fact that he has blazed the trail to the summit and is always successful in his attempts encourages our guests.

Summer snowboarding

Friday, July 16th, 2004

First Tracks.jpg

Finally the sun is shining. Yesterday a well-known Chamonix guide, Christophe Profit, along with two friends summited on via the Classic Route and said the conditions were great. They were the first in ten days to summit. Good news for us that someone of reputation in the climbing world was happy with the conditions and will be promoting the climbing on our mountain. With a good weather forecast through Sunday, the calls have already started coming in. If the weather holds out we might have a busy weekend for a change.

With the sun and fresh snow, the snowboarding has been great. Yesterday, I climbed up to about 3100m on the glacier and made a descent of about 300m. There are a series of big snowfields that are only connected now by some very thin cover, but I can descent almost all the way to the hut on them. It is melting fast and I probably won’t be able to make such a long run by the weekend. The snowfield above the hut still has a few weeks in it though. Today I went up and build a jump and took a couple of runs. By afternoon, the snow gets pretty slushy and it is more like surfing than snowboarding, but it is half July after all.

Still Snowing

Tuesday, July 13th, 2004
Approaching Snow.jpg Today is a week of bad weather. Despite the cancellations on Saturday night we had two unexpected guests, a dentist and a veterinarian from the Bologna area. Needless to say they ... [Continue reading this entry]

Life Among the Clouds

Saturday, July 10th, 2004
In the Clouds.jpg Bad weather has forced us indoors for the past 5 days. Monday started OK and all of our 4th of July party made it out before the bad weather ... [Continue reading this entry]

4th of July on the Grandes Jorasses

Monday, July 5th, 2004
Lenticular.jpg The 4th was great up here. It fell on the peak of the summer sporting season. There was the second stage of the tour de France, Wimbledon, French Formula 1 GP, Brazilian Moto ... [Continue reading this entry]

At Boccalatte

Friday, July 2nd, 2004
July Moonrise.jpg We had our opening flight yesterday. We flew up two Helo bags worth of supplies; among which was a small grill. I set it up immediately and we hadd grilled sausages, ... [Continue reading this entry]