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Vicki’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 14 Jul 2012

Location: Chamonix, France

MapMy wine tour in Beaune was very interesting - I learned a lot about French wine and vineyards and tasted some very good wine that I'd never be able to afford to buy. The wine industry is a major employer in that region and is big business. On my return to Beaune I went to one of the caves and had a "5 senses experience" which was a bit contrived but I learned a bit more about tasting wine, and had some more of the expensive stuff.
The drive from Beaune to Chamonix took quite a long time on the small roads, but was quite enjoyable, especially while listening to music such as Leonard Cohen, Dylan (the harpist from HF Conwy) and Katie Melua. The route through the High Jura was particularly scenic.
I'm staying at a chalet/gite, which is cheap but a bit basic. Everything is unisex - the dorms, showers and loos. I got here on the day of the big avalanche and shared a room on the first night with 2 guys who had been lucky enough to survive. I think I only got a bed because the guy who should have been there was in hospital. There was a very subdued feeling in the chalet that night.
The world sport climbing championships have been held here, and I watched the speed climbing finals on Thursday night. It was amazing - men and women climbing a vertical wall like spiders, in about 6 seconds! They hardly seemed human!
Yesterday I walked to the summit of Le Brevent, which is 2525m. Not quite altitude, but getting there. The weather was a bit cloudy, with some rain, but it got better in the afternoon, just as the battery in my camera died. I'll carry a spare from now on. The views got better and better, and I particularly enjoyed the section from the summit to the col, which involved some scrambling, down climbing and a series of vertical ladders (downwards). There were also quite a few patches of snow - I'm beginning to wish I'd brought my ice axe. I also realised that I've forgotten my paramo trousers - OMG! The flowers are really nice on the mountains and I even saw a marmot yesterday.
It's raining this morning, so it's a good opportunity to catch up on my blog, but I'll go out soon and do a shorter walk. The forecast says it's going to get better after today so hopefully I'll get higher again tomorrow.