Sunday, 22 July 2012

First day in Chamonix and I'm intact, almost...

Cracking first day in the Alps. I spent the day exploring, literally stuffing my face with French cuisine.

Then at 6pm we met at 'Le Pub'. At first nobody turned up which was worrying but then one by one everyone arrived. We met 3 of our guides, Phil, Fabio and Greg, and the group, Harry and his dad Gavin from Newcastle, Roger, Henrietta from Hong Kong, Graham from Liverpool and Richard who's from Chester like me! Pretty coincidental eh! Harry is 18 so a similar age to me. They all seem a pleasant bunch. Phil, our lead guide, who is British, arrived at our meeting in a suit. Turns out he'd just come from the funeral of his friend Roger Payne, the ex-BMC chairman who was tragically killed on a Mont Blanc avalanche 2 weeks ago. We've got a fourth guide, Miha, who will be joining us for our summit day. For our first couple of days it's just Greg and Phil, who have over 150 summits of Mont Blanc between them. Much to my delight, Phil said the weather is looking great up there. So we should definitely be summiting without any Plan B as of yet. Phew! Some good luck! I had to pop the question of: 'Do you mind if I wear an Orangutan costume at the top?'. Everyone looked a bit speechless then burst out laughing. 'I don't see why not!' laughed Phil. We then departed back to our lodge and I went and had tea with Dave and Julie again, which was great. The one downside was the stomach cramps and sickness I had felt all day. My first worry was food poisoning but thankfully it eased off the next morning. One thing that was sadly common in the past 2 weeks was people asking me whether I'm still climbing despite the recent tragedies. Of course I am, thousands of people die on roads each year but it doesn't stop people driving does it? In the words of Alan Hinkes: 'We climb not to die but to enrich our lives'.... Live the dream.

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