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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Glacier and hut of Argentière

The last week-end of the month (March 30 – 31) I dedicated to upgrade my glacier navigation and safety skills. This was organized around a series of drills arranged by guides that are members of the Club Alpin Français. This included drills requiring you trusting the rope enough to hop into crevasses and hanging in your harness…
The weather conditions were particularly heinous day one and only got decent mid-day day two. With about two feet of recent snow, the avalanche conditions were heinous day one and a lot heinouser day two. On the second day in the mid afternoon we heard a lot of mega avies breaking so large that the explosions would echo from mountain side to mountain side. These are by far the loudest and most frequent ones I’ve ever heard, quite eerie...
Spending the night at 9,200 feet was a treat especially as the Refuge d’Argentière is one of the nicer ones (see last few pictures below) in the Mont Blanc massif. In between drills we got to ski really nice snow thanks to the recent snow falls. I did not take pictures of the drills but below pictures show our surroundings as we were “workling”.

Topo map: 3630OT (Chamonix)
Dominating aspect: NE
Starting elevation: 6,400 (Lognan tram)
Hut elevation: 9,200 feet
Col du Tour Noir: 11,600 feet

Access by car:
Drive through Chamonix and at the roundabout just before the village of Argentière, drive into the parking lot of Les Grands Montets. There is a one way ticket that this season costs 26.5 euros.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

Going up the Glacier d'Argentière...
...further up the Glacier d'Argentière
No shortage of crevasses
View of the lower part of Glacier du Milieu that lets you up to the top
of Aiguille  d'Argentière at  12,796 feet
I took this one just for its hanging gloacier that looks like its barely
hanging by a thread. When this one starts breaking appart we'll
have some spectacular serac falls...
This one: Just because...
A beautiful marker to your left just before you make it to the
Refuge d'Argentère
Col des Grands Montets, enlarge to see the turns
These were the conditions on our approach to the Refuge d'Argentière
 late pm on the Saturday
Refuge d'Argentière taken Sunday am when leaving, the conditions improved
View of the common area at the hut. The refuge d'Argentière is stop #1
on the classic "Haute Route", a 6 day ski from Chamonix-Mt Blanc
to Zermatt-Matterhorn

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