Kate Inman was one of three women (including me) in a group of ten who set out to France to attempt a summit of Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest mountain. A few
weeks after the trip she sent us a poem that beautifully describes our trip together. Here it is, unedited, with her permission:
Mont Blanc Lament
Ten go Silly in the Snow
When we walked through Chalet Prarion’s front door,
Mont Blanc was the thing that we had in store.
To climb up higher than we’d been before,
(Though Yoshi and Nadia had been higher before!)
We worried about having not done enough training,
A couple of walks – except for when it was raining.
But Damian soon allayed all our fears,
When he arrived straight from a night out on the beers.
The next day began with guides checking our stuff,
And ditching the things that they thought were no good.
Harnesses, crampons, a helmet and axe,
All added weight to our heavy rucksacks.
The first task was reaching ‘Albert Premier’,
Yves pointed out flowers – but I didn’t care.
I was too busy thinking of the big task ahead,
And how I would cope with four blokes in one bed.
The next day we climbed up to the Trient Hut,
Nadia was happy she’d made it, but…
Point d’Orny was our final test, before we were allowed to have a rest.
Some bits were scary – I thought I might die,
Yves said “ Just pretend you’re a butterfly!”
And of course we all made it, most thought it was fun,
(I’d spent most of it sat on my bum.)
Spaghetti for dinner, how much do guides eat?
They must be hollow right down to their feet.
Early next morning, about half past five,
Onto the glacier to see the sun rise.
Up to the top of the Aiguille de Tour,
All roped together to keep us secure.
Then back to the chalet, a welcome respite,
Nice food, a hot shower (?) our own beds for the night.
Damian said “Look guys, I don’t mean to be rude,”
“But which one of you bastards is stealing my food?”
Wednesday the 17th – this is the day,
We began our ascent up the Mont Blanc Tramway.
Tete Rousse was quite spacious but nothing could hide,
The ominous sound of rocks falling outside.
We chatted about what tomorrow would bring,
And which one of us might just end up in a sling.
But we had a good chance of staying alive,
Especially with ‘Lord Damian’s’ dark powers on our side.
Climbing up through the snow-we hadn’t gone far,
We reached the edge of the Grand Couloir.
All was quiet and so we crossed it quick,
Mark putting on quite a bit of a lick.
Vasyl and Colin began the traverse,
But falling rocks soon put them into reverse.
Somehow we made it with all limbs complete,
And started the scramble up the next 1800ft.
It was all going well and then looking up,
I could see the lights of the Gouter Hut.
But on a ledge with 200 metres to go,
That voice came over the radio.
And the decision was made that we all had feared,
Surely our summit bid couldn’t end here?
We’ve hardly got started, we’re raring to go,
But the guides were unanimous – the decision is no.
So carefully we began retracing our way,
The sun coming up to start a new day.
Back to the hut and through the front door,
That we had only just come through two hours before.
So now we had 5 guides with time on their hands,
So we sat down together to formulate plans.
If there was no chance of Mont Blanc that day,
We’d have to amuse ourselves some other way.
Mark, Nick and Dena went up Mer de Glace,
The plan was to throw them into a crevasse.
Of course the idea’s to climb out up the side,
A task that sounds simple unless you have tried.
Vasyl and Nadia chose to spend their day,
On a Via Ferrata – an ‘iron way’.
On the side of a cliff with nothing below,
We’d have had video footage if Yves had pressed go.
The rest of us tried to stifle our panic,
When the doorbell rang and there stood Yannick.
The steep climb up Pointe Lachenal was our goal,
We tried not to laugh when Yoshi fell in that hole.
So some of us still have plans of reaching the top,
(I know Dave’s obsession is unlikely to stop.)
Whether it’s this year, the next or in four,
Mark and the gang may be getting a call.
They say men climb mountains because they are there,
Testing their limits up in the thin air.
But one thing more important than accomplishing such feat,
Is the great times you have with the people you meet.