20th Sept 2017
So I was a bit of a late arrival to the AGS team and arrived out in Chamonix having not met any of the guys, and, although I've done a lot of work in the outdoor industry, I'd never done any Alpine climbing before.
Thanks to the Adaptive Grand Slam Team, today I reached my first Alpine summit.
14 years ago I had a serious injury to my leg that left me with a degenerative ankle joint that over time has fused with arthritis. It can be incredibly painful and I've no movement in the joint....I had no idea how it was going to cope with working on snow in crampons, or if it would even cope with a decent mountain day!
I can't thank the AGS team enough for the opportunity and the support that they've given me today.
I'll be honest.....the leg didn't cope as well as I was hoping. I was pretty disheartened after feeling concerned that I was slowing the group down, which can always be a problem with the changing weather conditions in the mountains, but the team couldn't have given me more support. The whole aim of the Adaptive Grand Slam is to adapt and show that challenges are still achievable, it's just about finding a way!
Sitting looking out over the Alps was a magical moment....and with the support of the team, I'm positive that it will happen again!
So yes, I'm cursing my leg a little right now for not being as strong as I was hoping, but tomorrow we'll look at how we can help it cope a little better and we'll give it another chance to show what it's made of when we set off to climb Grand Paradiso. Where there's a will, (some pretty awesome support and a great team) there's always way!
As the 6am alarm sounded a bleary crew of smelly (not to mention occasionally hungover) men, women, and ... Martin, slowly stirred and headed downstairs in the mountain hut for an antisocial breakfast. The dregs of the previous night still littered the tables, and it had taken an obvious toll on morning conversation.
However as we packed, donned harnesses, and stepped out into the coolness of the pre-dawn gloom, conversation quickly picked up (if only to conceal aforementioned hangovers) and we set off up to our objective for the day - Tete Blanche.
The first leg traversed the moraine above the glacier, providing a technical challenge to some of the group with lower limb injuries. Despite, or maybe because of, an amazing array of expletives, all made it safely and we roped up for the glacial phase. As we set off the pace was pleasant, but as the gradient steepened, and the guides started to break trail, we all found ourselves breathing pretty hard. But despite a plethora of injuries, varying paces, and a range of experience everyone made it to the summit on time and as planned.
We were rewarded by glorious weather, an incredible view, the most picturesque lunch spot you could ask for. We soaked in the views of the Swiss Oberland, Italian Alps and French Mont Blanc Massif. After a few obligatory photos we headed back to the hut, to collect the remnants of our gear before bouncing back to the Chalet for a well earned three course meal, and "medicinal" hot tub immersion.