Glacier du Géant, Aiguille du Midi
My first Chamonix experience was simply breathtaking but moreover it was life changing. I spontaneously traveled solo to Europe after quitting my job and deciding to take some time for myself to travel. First I stopped in Paris and then took a train to Geneva where I caught a bus to Chamonix and stayed in a lovely woman’s flat for the week.
The end destination was well worth the struggle and delays that happened in the start of the trip. More about that in my travel blog! I had reserved a spot for a clinic in the Arc’teryx Alpine Academy hosted in Chamonix France on a whim while stuck in Seattle after a canceled flight kept me in the city a day extra.
I joined the all female mountaineering clinic with a small ratio of female participants taught and led by two female IFMGA guides. This was an incredible opportunity and I’m fortunate I had the experience.
We met early in the square that morning near the Arc’teryx homebase for the academy. We made quick introductions and ran off to get in the long line for the tram car to the Aiguille du Midi. The ride up is fun and provides stunning views of Chamonix in the basin below and the river that stretches all the way to Geneva shines bright teal.
After we offloaded the gondola we made our way to the restroom and locker prep area to gear up before heading to the ice cave. It was a supportive environment with some of us helping the ladies who had not worn crampons before or handled some of the gear.
Once harnessed up we trekked through the ice cave hopping over the gate to the crampon zone. The views here are spectacular showing just a peep of what’s to come. The initial drop and exposure from the ridge is immediate and intimidating for new crampon users. Luckily it was not an issue and everyone made great footwork down to the glacier avoiding a fall. They had a flimsy fixed line in place for the academy event though it was not to be trusted for actual support.
Slowly we descended the ridge and regrouped above the next descent point onto Glacier du Géant. We took some time discussing techniques, watching crevasse bridge crossings by other groups and then made our way up onto the next ridgeline. We had a lovely group photo session here and then carried on over to a rock cropping to watch the crevasse rescue training above the crevasses below.
Shortly after watching the crevasse rescue clinic work we took an impromptu two rope single file lady bio break just in time for the cable car to fly by overhead! We laughed as our group pee session had witnesses above.
We traversed across the glacier directly below the other huts and across from the summit mastif of Mont Blanc. Here we settled in to practice some more techniques like building snow anchors and more scenarios. We all enjoyed the dynamic of our all female group!
The guides we had were phenomenal and badasses in their own right. We had a great day with strangers across the world meeting to enjoy a shared passion! After we took the cable car back down we gathered in the square in town for snacks and adult beverages to bask in the afternoon sun!
Such a lovely time making memories with women from all over the globe! We even added to our group by the end of the afternoon as three new friends from the UK asked to join our group. I even ended up going to dinner with them later that evening!
Empowering other women through all female glacier travel and skills building was a memorable outing. I can’t wait for the next Alpine Academy I have the opportunity to join.