GR5 Day 2 – My life flashing before my eyes!

So today was not my day!  Snow – my nemesis – almost got the better of me!  More on that later…..

But first  – a beautiful start to the day in Samoens, with a beautiful river walk up to the Gorge du Tines which was stunning with the sun coming up through the trees 

The path up the gorge du tines with the ladder to climb

And then it was a beautiful ascent up to the collets du anterne!   (The view with the ubiquitous gr5 marker in the foreground)

And then after a lovely coffee at the refuge, it all went pear shaped.   Climbing up the hill to the Col du Anterne I passed over some very hairy parts of the trail where it was covered in snow.  Traversing the snow was terrifying as one foot wrong and I would have tumbled down a big slope.  (The photo below – the path is horizontal, and it is steeper than it looks)

 I naively thought it would get better – big mistake!   I got to lac anterne and there was no path to the Col – and it was about two k away and 200m up.  And it was all snow and some of it was quite steep!  I tried a couple of attempts to get around the lake and eventually figured it out!  It took me two hours to reach the Col including multiple slides and several falls through the snow (in normal conditions it would be 30 minutes).  I thought the view when I got to the top was worth it 

The view back the way I came – that’s a crapload of snow 

The view of Mont Blanc and Le Brevent from the Col

Or I thought it was worth it until I looked down the other side – a steep snow covered slope with no discernible path, but a view of the refuge moede anterne at the bottom.  I skied on my butt down most of it – not on purpose, but I couldn’t stay on my feet.   The highlight of the day was an uncontrollable 100m slide down the slope, where I finally manage to stop myself with my poles 5m before a waterfall!   It was terrifying!

I finally got to the refuge after many more falls, and the nice man there dissuaded me from continuing on the gr5 route given the unprecedented levels of snow, my lack of crampons, the numerous bluffs and the absence of any other hikers, and suggested I descend to Les Houches by another path. I felt guilty for about taking a shortcut for a nanosecond (given I am fundraising), and then remembered how it felt with my life flashing before my eyes sliding down the cliff.   I hope my donors will forgive me!  The shortcut was still a brutal 1000m descent through the woods 

Am now safely in Les Houches, fortified with a big dinner, and have adjusted tomorrow’s route to avoid the highest pass which is still covered in snow!

Still smiling!

Distance covered = 33km

Ascent = 1797

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