I came to Chamonix 3 weeks ago with a calm mind and no firm objectives. Over the years I’ve learned that the quickest way to a humbling beatdown is to show up at a new area with all guns blazing. Sure, the truly gifted and unfathomably talented (think Alex Honnold climbing anywhere in the world) can get away with it but most of us need to wade in from the shallow end.
It’s been a week since finishing the Pierra Menta. I’m finally recovered. My feet are good now and I have energy to tour and ski. I didn’t wait long to get back out but didn’t go crazy at first, either.
Well, we made it. There were times during the first stage where I wasn't so sure we would. Nate was in a bad way that day and had to dig deep to finish. We hoped for something completely different on day two and that's what we got. Days three and, finally, four were more of the same with only slight variations in energy and motivation. One thing is for certain; there were no discussions of dropping out after the beginning of the second day.
It's good to be done with today as the last day, tomorrow, is typically the shortest. Today's menu involved long climbs, a few boot packs and enormous crowds. Although the dodgy weather prevented us from doing the super aesthetic ridge on the Grand Mont, we did a mini version of it nearby. Some easy rock scrambling with a fixed rope for a hand line in places. The final booter felt almost Alaskan with the French version of tundra underfoot for the final 100 vertical meters. Good variety.
What a difference a day makes. Things didn't go perfectly but it was so much more satisfying that it's easy to overlook some of the glitches today. Nate essentially felt close to normal, not perfect, but his speed and endurance were what we were hoping for. We spent the day picking off dozens of competitors. I love doing that, of course. Feeds the rat within, I guess. But more importantly, we raced well, transitioned mostly like pros and skied all the descents cleanly, save for my little knee tweaking tumble 5 minutes from the finish. More details later.