Wednesday 11 March 2009

climbing tales of woe

"What about that path over there?"
"I don't think so - look, it goes the other side of the river."
"It looks like it goes round to the right."
"Well we could try it, but it would be a very brave move - we could end up walking quite a way along it and then having to walk all the way back again."
"So you think we should go up here, in these footprints?"
"Yeah, they're going the right way."
"Ok, fine. I do think that wide, well trodden path looks like the one though. But, you have been here before so I trust you."

This discussion heralded the beginning of an epic journey, an adventure into the unknown. We were following the forlorn footsteps of a past stranger, choosing a course that would require us to overcome many hurdles - but not one of them would prove great enough to destroy our resolve and our mental fortitude.

"Are you sure this is the right way?"
"I can see a set of tracks cutting across to the base of the route just up ahead."

Flailing and desperate, fighting to keep our heads above the fluid powder, we battled on, each step slowly draining the energy from our bodies as we dug deep and marched onwards. Gritty and determined, our eyes found focus on where our minds were carrying us.

"Umm, Lauren. You're not going to like this..."

Instinctively I knew the tremble in my partner's voice could only mean one thing...

"Umm remember that path you saw earlier...?"

Patrick and I had set out to climb a route called 'E Tutto Relativo'. The line was undeniably beautiful - we had seen it from the road. I was also told that the walk in would be easy and
wouldn't take long - a pre-requisite as we had set out late (due to my own tiredness). This route was one that Patrick had been on before, but hadn't completed - a case of 'unfinished business' I guess you could say. And it did look beautiful.

Sadly though, things were not to go to plan that day. The first inkling I'd had of things not being
quite right, occurred when we decided to follow a set of footprints through deep powder, rather than the 'motorway' of a path we had been on initially.

45 minutes of slogging through waist deep powder only served to reveal that I had been right all along when we re-joined the main path! As you can probably imagine, I wasn't too happy.

Things hadn't been all bad though - I'd spent 45 minutes in absolute hysterics watching my beloved partner falling over repeatedly.

The next stage of the plan's collapse occurred when we finally got a good view of the route and both decided we didn't really fancy it after all (I do think we made the correct decision though - neither of us felt confident and the conditions on the line were somewhat questionable and it is, after all, better to be safe than sorry...)

So the plan evolved, and we walked back round the way we had come (on the path this time), to another nice looking route.

It became obvious that climbing simply wasn't going to happen when: a French guide with his student, who had been sat around at the base of the climb chatting the whole time we were walking up, decided to deliberately cut in front of us and take over the route. By the time he was finishing the route was in the sun and running with water - we walked away, peeved and frustrated, but still happy to have been in the mountains.

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