We awoke to see the nearby mountains covered by what can only be called a smattering of snow and we were buoyed by the forecast, which said no wind and no rain. 😀
When I’d organised the trip, I’d read that there was a ridge towards the finish, called the Arete de l’Arpille, which was not good for people with vertigo. But, having seen some of the pictures, where it looked quite rounded, I convinced Pete, everything would be fine. (He’s so trusting!)
However, whilst talking to a mother and daughter in the hut, who had done this section 4 days earlier, they told us about a series of ladders and ropes, which they found pretty challenging (aka scary) – though possibly no worse than what we had already done on Day 3. Phew, we should be OK. (At least that was what I thought, but I’m not sure what was going through Pete’s mind… 😣😜😖😨😱🥶?) But then we didn’t consider that the forecast might be slightly wrong…
As we approached the Col des Audannes and said series of about 6 or 7 ladders, each with 11 rungs, the weather gods decided to have a little fun and sent some more of the white stuff falling from the sky. Thankfully it was short-lived, but at least this tells you that it was cold. Pete had some gloves, but silly Mike thought he’d lost his somewhere the day before and I went down those wet, potentially slippery, rungs and snow covered ropes with my bare hands. Gosh, it was cold. One slip and we were gonners (see pic 15). But, we survived. 😀
A little further along, there was another drop down a gully on a thick blue rope (see pic 21), followed by a much thinner climbing rope (pic 22). Oh, the joy on Pete’s face was something to behold! But we still had that last ridge to look forward to… As it turned out, Pete’s new trainers had a much better grip than mine and he had no issues at all. I was the one who slid a couple of times on the greasy surface.
(For the record and sake of completeness and safety, in case anyone is thinking of doing this route: The ridge goes away on each side at around 60 degrees and on 2 occasions the narrow path drops down to the side for about 50 m/yards each time, with no ropes or other form of protection. So you have to be sure footed).
I’d like to show you some more photos of the final kilometre, but as you can see from the last few pictures, we finished in mist, with visibility down to around 25m/yds. So, we skipped the final few kilometres and Jude picked us up at the Col du Sanetsch. We returned home for a much needed bath and shower – not to mention a few beers and a superb chicken curry with poppadoms and dips (all prepared by Jude of course)! 😋
I hope you have all enjoyed this series of posts and our little adventure. Clearly this route is not for the elderly or infirm… (Oh, sorry Pete! 😉)
As before all Pete’s pics are watermarked.