Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Day 20: Champex to Trient
Today was epic. We got out a little later than we had hoped, and began our hike. Not long after we began, our trail passed under a working chairlift. Hopeful that it would take off the first uphill of our long, hard day, we found the operator. He assured us we could get to the place we needed to go from the top of the lift, so we got on. It was a huge lift; we were in the air for probably fifteen minutes. We got out feeling great about our shortcut, and treated ourselves to a cup of coffee at the café at the top. We then began the hike back to the point we knew we had to leave from. We overshot it, so we had to walk back down to it. What we didn't know is that we overshot it by much more than we saved, so instead of walking uphill for 45 minutes as the directions told us to, we walked downhill for about an hour fifteen. After arguments and a lot of downhill, we arrived at the trail.
From here, it was all up. It started out steep but not too technical, with very stark cliffs all around us. We then began traversing boulder fields, hopping from one boulder to the next, through some snow, and on very rocky paths. This was not easy. At a stream, we refilled our water bottles, enjoying the cold of the fresh snowmelt and praying that it wouldn't get us sick.
We went slowly, encouraging my mom the whole way. We then got to the verticals. First, it was snow. We walked across the vertical faces of large snow patches. In some parts, we had to go from snow to boulders, staying away from the edges of the snow where it had melted and a leg could (and in the case of my mom, did) fall through the snow.
The last part had a path, but required using our hands. We scrambled up slowly, the top now in sight. We were headed to the fenetre d'arpette, a window between two mountainscapes. After the last scrambling and a little more snow, we were there. From the top, it looked as if we had just climbed a cliff, and had a cliff to climb down on the other side. The view was stunning. To our left loomed a huge, blue glacier, and all around us were huge, snow covered peaks and cliffs. We ate a quick lunch, the wind rushing through the gap in the mountains, bringing dark, imposing clouds towards us.
The rain slowed and then stopped, and we kept walking down. After two and a half hours, or more, we got to a refuge where we were hoping to refill water, but it was closed. From here, luckily, the path flattened, and became almost like a sidewalk. We walked on this, seeing lots of bright orange slugs, a snake, and frogs, for an hour or so. We then had a steep downhill to Trient, the town where we were going to sleep. Our shins and knees did not feel like they could go another step, and we got into town. Our directions pointed us in entierely the wrong way, so we walked the entire town before finding our hostel. We threw down our stuff, and went down to dinner, at 8:20. After a disappointing dinner, we fell into bed.