The warning signs that we were going to hit Alpine rush hour were evident from the moment we stepped off the téléphérique at the Plan de l'Aiguille the afternoon prior. Every climber including ourselves was planning to climb Le Fil à Plomb on the Rognon du Plan next day. I had not even heard of the route until a few day ago when I had spotted it from the téléphérique during our descent from the Aiguille du Midi. With the Grands Montets station shut due to high winds this seemed to natural plan B. The winter room in the Refuge du Plan de l'Aiguille was over-subscribed with one group having to be turned away. Still, on the plus side we were one of about four groups, which on the grand scale of things was not cause for major concern, provided we didn't begin the route at the same time.
|Sunset over the Chamonix Aiguilles|
|Sunset over the Refuge du Plan de l'Aiguille|
My 3am alarm appeared to serve as a cue for everybody to rise and soon there were a dozen or so climbers scurrying around the small confines of the winter room making final preparations. We were second out of the door and second at the bottom of the route. A short way up we waited patiently for an Italian team of three to climb an easy ramp and a short section of mixed. By now the first téléphérique had departed Chamonix and the slopes below were now awash with head torches as if a witch hunt was taking place.
|The initial ramp|
|Crux pitch of Le Fil à Plomb|
|Enjoying the top-out with the crowds|
|Vie of Grande Jorasses from the Midi-Plan Ridge|
|View towards Aiguille du Midi from near the top of the route|