I was shivering, it was so cold. I tried to say something, but my words came out faintly and garbled. Right then and there I realized I was suffering from hypothermia. Never felt anything like that before, but I recognized it somehow.
It was no wonder, really. We had started in the darkness at the Cosmiques hut
. It was freezing, but as there was virtually no wind, I started with just two layers, because I was counting on staying warm by climbing in a good pace. And for the first few hours, that worked like a charm. We moved along quite nicely. The only hold up was on the steep section just before Mont Maudit.
It was too cold to take off my mittens, so I didn’t eat or drink much on the way up. As we got higher, the wind really picked up and finally, on the slopes of Mont Maudit, the wind and the cold caught up with me.
Fortunately, I wasn’t too far gone to realize it. I stopped. Couldn’t clearly explain the problem, but I managed to get through that I really needed to stop a while. Put on some extra layers, and started drinking and eating some chocolate. After that, I felt better, and gradually I started to feel warm again. The sun coming out didn’t do any harm either, I suppose.
How far we still had to go, I don’t know, but we started moving again. My legs were weak. I was hoping the chocolate would kick in soon, but I wasn’t feeling it yet. Nevertheless, the summit appeared so close, I was sure we could make it. One step at a time. Much slower than before, we continued. As we got closer to the summit, I started feeling better. Maybe it was just the adrenaline of almost being on top, but the last bit was almost easy.
Back at the key pitch
After the congratulations, pictures and a well deserved rest, we started our descent, back where we came from. It must still have been freezing, but as we got lower, less wind, somewhat higher temperatures and the strong sun made it feel much warmer. It had turned into a beautiful day.
Walking below seracs
It should not have been much warmer though, because there were some huge seracs hanging over the route. Not a good place to be if things start thawing up.
If you look closely at some of the pictures below, you might be able to spot the trail.
Back at the refuge
Refuge des Cosmiques
Finally, we got back at the hut in time for a late lunch.
A day well spent.