by Kelly Cordes
I’m in Chamonix, France, for a couple of weeks. Weather started bad on the Mont Blanc massif, so we drove through the tunnel and climbed sunny rock in Italy. An 800-foot roadside dome with 40 routes, all bolted. The bolts weren’t too close, nor were they beside cracks. The routes had little placards fixed to the rock, indicating which route went where. People of all ages climbed, seemingly as normal for a Sunday afternoon as watching the game back home.
[Parapenters (the wee white dots in the sky) soaring above Chamonix, and the south face of the Brévent. Photo: Kelly Cordes]
The next two days, as clouds enshrouded the high peaks, I climbed on the south face of Le Brévent – an otherwise two-hour approach takes a few minutes thanks to the super-fast-whisking-action of these tram-gondola thingies called téléphériques (téléphériques also access the serious mountains across the valley – Mt. Blanc, Grand Capucin, Grandes Jorasses, the Dru, and on and on and on.) We’d finish our cappuccinos and leave at the civilized hour of 10 a.m. or so, climb a four-to-six-pitch route, and be back down sipping wine and eating cheese at an outdoor café by 3 p.m. Quite civilized, indeed.
[Walker Ferguson coming up the final pitch of the Frison-Roche route on the south face of the Brévent. Photo: Kelly Cordes]