23 November, Mont Buet (3096m) & Chamonix Cho Oyu Expedition Training

As part of her Cho You expedition training Sheena is mixing up some UK mountaineering training with numerous short trips to Chamonix to build both her technical mountaineering skills and mountain fitness.  Ideal expedition training!

We enjoyed a day of technical training on a snowy Mer de Glace with relatively mild weather for the time of year and great views of the Drus West Face and Grandes Jorasses North Face.

Sheena refining her fixed rope ascending technique on steep ice on the Mer de Glace above Chamonix

We descended via the path and ever longer staircase to the ice grotto and accessed the glacier from there.  The ladders looked quite buried and we could not see tracks coming down them.  The new station at Montenvers is impressive and much bigger and smarter than before and with a much improved cafe!

Pre-dawn start up the Berade Valley en route to the Refuge Berade and Mont Buet

After this technical training we went for a more physical day and a late November ascent of Mont Buet certainly provided that!  After a pre-dawn ascent through the lower forest with head torches bobbling along the snowy path we began the sustained ascent on the slopes above the hut.  As we gained height the snow got deeper although the increasingly physical trail breaking was offset by the increasingly magnificent views.  Magnificent!

Brilliant views from high on the ascent of Mont Buet – Across the Chamonix Valley to the Mont Blanc Range.

We also saw numerous Chamois and probably Ibex & Mountain hare tracks as well as the foxes and Red Deer we had seen from the car that morning.  Our arrival on the summit ridge was greeted by an alpine Chough and great views over in to the Samoens / Taninges valley as well as over to the Chablais.  This added yet another dimension to the views which already included much of the Northern Alps!

Snowy conditions on the summit ridge of Mont Buet with the Mont Blanc Massif behind.

Snow conditions remained soft and deep even on much of the summit ridge, which we hoped would have been scoured by the wind!  A few old ski tracks showed some other parties had probably enjoyed the deep soft snow more than us travelling on foot!   Some other ski teams had been up to the Col Berade and there were more than pockets of great snow, but obviously the base is limited below 2500m and there are plenty of rocks about and ski teams were obviously walking out down the lower footpath section of the Berade Valley.

With plenty more snow due over the weekend and next week, it looks like the reasonable start to the season could continue and get even better.

Sheena pleased & relieved to finally reach the summit of Mont Buet after 7 hours of hard efforts in soft snow!