Tag Archives: Mountain Network

The Stupidity of Men (and Some Women)

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After acclimatizing on the Mer de Glace in France and in the Aosta Valley on the other side of the big white mountain massif including the partly ascend of the Gran Paradiso, it was time to head for the Mont Blanc. After being used to the new glacier walking techniques and climbing instruments, and a well-deserved rest day in Chamonix, we parked our cars in Les Houches a bit west of Chamonix and took a gondola lift and a train to reach the starting point: Nid d’Aigle at 2482m. After all the work-outs, it was a pretty easy walk to the Refuge de Tête Rousse at 3167m. It’s a hut just down of the infamous and possibly incredibly dangerous crossing of the Grand Couloir. The views from the refuge were extraordinary. We rested most of what was left of the day in bed to prepare our minds and bodies for the Big Day! When traversing the Grand Couloir the next day, we received real evidence of falling rock and ice. It either passed us by inches or hit some of us. Don’t think about it too much! After surviving the most threatening part, we climbed to the Refuge du Goûter at 3835m. The climbing was done with all four limbs, we wished we had more and longer ones. I was so dead when reaching this place! I wished I could recover for hours with whatever drugs would be available up there. But no, a short break was all we got. Completely exhausted at a time normally suitable for breakfast, I still had to go up another kilometer straight to heaven! For most of us, from that point or a bit later, it all came down to just our mental capabilities. It was not about training anymore, or gaining muscles, or fancy diets, or whatever you’d have done back home. It was mostly the mind which was in charge the rest of the ascend. Our guides told us to enjoy and to look around whilst working our ass off, but enjoying yourself at that moment is so difficult. You don’t believe anymore you will come across the summit this day, or ever in your entire life… But, you go on! Honestly, I cannot tell you why. Actually, it’s pretty dum. A work-out of more than eleven hours during free time, just to reach the top of a stupid hill. At one point, I was getting so close, I even started to be aware I was going to make it. I saw the summit (at least this time the real one…). I felt the energy flowing back into my system. And most importantly, I was enjoying myself. I made it. We all did it. Standing there and seeing all these big rocks around you from the top was so amazing. Unimaginable!

We took the same way back and slept another night at the Refuge de Tête Rousse. The next day early in the morning, we came back to our basecamp in Chamonix. Finally a shower (with running water) and clean clothes. We had dinner altogether and started celebrating our experiences with great stories, of which some of them will be memories for life! In the end, we could not answer the question why we actually did it. Some of us detested the day of the enrollment for this trip, as it was so heavy. Anyhow, we all made personal history. We also drunk beer and wine in decent healthy amounts. And then we discussed ‘What’s next?’, even with the unanswered question of why we signed up for this one, still in our heads. Someone suggested to run a marathon rather untrained and as a reward if finishing the first one, we do another one but trained… Some of us have already subscribed to the coming marathon of Amsterdam. Please, where’s the wake-up call!?!?

I left my hometown three weeks ago. I had this unfulfilled dream to get Ultimate High by cycling to a mountain and ascend it. It’s done now. I added big memories to my brainy collection. Great stories to tell! Hundreds of funny and fabulous pics of climbing comrades and unbelievable landscapes! But it all started with me reading about this Swedish adventurer, Göran Kropp, who climbed dozens of mountains around the world and cycled to Mount Everest, just to climb that one too. Crazy guy with a great zest for life!

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Finding the Perfect Line

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Yes! So happy! Today, I take off. On the road again! Sea to summit! Me and my bike ‘Zedd’! I leave the comforts of my life routine behind me and live again from the saddle for about ten days all the way to the slopes of that big ‘White Mountain’. This Mont Blanc is the highest pinnacle in the European Alps and just lying there to be explored. I’ll cycle from my hometown in the Netherlands to Chamonix in the French Alps. I’ll use the (green) route number 7 of the Dutch organization ‘Europafietsers’, meaning cycling through Maastricht (the Netherlands), Ardennes (Belgium), Luxembourg, Lorraine (France), Vosges, and the Jura and then left to Geneva. From there, I’ll reach Chamonix either via the southern shores of Lake Geneva, or via the valley of the river Arve. Anyhow, it’s a long way cycling with the sun on my face! Very enjoyable! I’ll use my tent as a shelter and recovery home whilst cycling, and then I take a well-deserved rest in Chamonix and prepare myself for the ascend of Gran Paradiso in Italy prior to the Mont Blanc. I join a group of seven untamed climbers led by Mountain Network. I’ll keep you posted during the trip!

But first, I have to find that perfect rhythm again of the routine of a cycling holiday: get up early and leave my warm and cosy Cumulus, prepare breakfast when the world is silent and damp, put the tent down, pack my stuff, mount my Thorn, cycle through the countryside, and meet all what’s out there! Then, after tons of water and food in different weathers, find a place to set up camp, cook, shower and wait till it all starts again… Jolly as a sandboy!