Snow came down to 1600m last Sunday and it seemed that winter was knocking at my door in Chamonix.
Thierry came from Paris for 1 week of great mountain climbs and definitely the weather forecast is not good in Chamonix. So?
Mont Viso is the highest summit in the Queras area. You can see it super good from Torino in Italy because it is surrounding the Po Valley. It is actually the spring of the famous Po River in Italy. I’ve never been there and it is a part of the Alps I don’t know; plus the weather seems much better (actually not so much but at least a bite better…). Thierry is very happy to have an opportunity to climb a mountain because the weather forecast in Chamonix is quite depressing.
Here we are, 2.5h of driving then started hiking to the hut, called Quintino Sella. A big and nice hut at 2684m. There is some snow on the top of MontViso but we are optimistic for the next day. What worries me more is the wind, super strong when we get to the hut. It will blow all night at probably something like 80 to 100km/h… not a good sign.
As usual, Italian huts are super nice: pasta (good homemade noodles with Italian sauce and parmegiano = cheese), fun people… The next morning I’m not super confident because the wind was still blowing not as strong but still. Top of Mont Viso is 1200m above us so what if it blows even stronger up there??? As always in the mountains decision making is tricking. Wind direction is from west. Our climb is completely east, so we should be protected at least at the beginning. 5.30am, I decide to give it a try. Clouds are around the summit but at the base of the climb, no more wind! So we start climbing. It is easy « scrambling = grade 3 max few meter of grade 4 which is technically doable by everybody » but the route is very long: 1200m high and then the way down is also very long. I know that we might have some tougher condition near the summit but I’m confident.
At around 3500m, we are in the clouds. Frost and snow covers the rock and it is a total different atmosphere, that’s for sure. The closer we get to the top, the stinger the wind is. Concentration is the key point because the rock is very slippery. Hands are cold, very cold. Almost 6h after leaving the hut, I see the crux of the summit and I hear also the noise of the wind blowing against it. The atmosphere is just great, as I like, I feel deeply the strength of the elements and today it is the wind…! A quick photo at the top and some snacks behind a big rock to be a little bit more protected from the wind and it is time to go down. Except 2 Italians coming from the normal route, we cannot see 1 person along the climb up and down.
The way down is long, very long but not difficult. Back at the hut at around 4pm we order a nice plate of Italian pasta to warm us up and give us some energy to get back to the car.
I am very happy even if the view from the top was not the one I expected. What a summit. Thierry was thinking about an « easy climb in the south part of the alps, no glaicier, warm sun,… » He is very surprised but very happy too.
At around 10pm at night, when we arrived in Chamonix, it was raining and raining and we definitely felt we made the right choice. But I will go back for sure, at least to see the view from the top. It is said that from summit of Mont Viso by a clear day you can see the Mediteraneen sea… Definitely not last Wednesday!