3rd July Mont blanc Reccie : Bellevue to The grand couloir

The plan today was to get the cable car from Les Houches to Bellevue and then reccie the section from there 1,800m to The Gouter hut 3,800m approx. Two navigational errors lead me onto a ridge ascent instead of an easier tram track, then the second one higher up onto another ridge instead of a small glacier traverse. The first was tough physically but the second was tough mentally which was worse. The problem with the second error was that I was then under an area prone to rock fall. I spotted a few rocks whizzing down so got a shift on to clear it. I was going well until here then I came to a halt at 3,270 m. The problem was that the crossing of the grand couloir had rocks tumbling down. I didn’t take my helmet and was alone. If you were hit by some of the bigger ones they would break bones or knock you out (more likely with no helmet). So after watching for a while I decided to turn back. I estimate about 550 meters below the Gouter hut.
I still did the 1,450 m ascent in less than 3 hours with full kit; the descent was about 1 hour 25. I learned from some climbers that the huts are fully booked all year. During the climb I started thinking of doing it the easier way and having an overnight stay in the gouter hut, especially now that Nick isn’t going to do the climb with me due to a sore knee. But still my preferred simpler option appeals, that of ascending and descending in one effort on one day. It means no last minute reliance on booking the hut on a weather window, then finding there is no room. Plus it will be a really tough challenge. Tomorrow I will reccie the lower section from Les Houches to the Bellevue Cable car station. Then I will wait for good weather, the forecast until Thursday doesn’t look so good.

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