Ali and Lay’s Mountaineering Blog

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La Luette (3,548m)

June 25th, 2007 · 5 Comments

We awake at 5:30am to the ominous rumble of thunder outside the hut – not a good omen to start the day.  After a quick gear cluster faff I head downstairs to find Pierre, the hut guardien.

I eagerly state “La Luette!” in response to his enquiry as to our route for the day.  Pierre pauses, presumably weighing the suggested proposal against his vast experience, local knowledge and the current weather conditions.   “Okay, so you want to die today?” his laconic retort.

My protest falls on deaf ears and he sends me, deflated, back to bed but at least there is a ray of hope – “the weather may improve later this morning and Luette is not so far”, he says.  Our initial plan was to summit La Luette today and then traverse the Pigne d’Arolla tomorrow on my birthday.  Now things look doubtful.

We finally set off at 10:00 am, very late for an Alpine start, but at least the weather has cleared as Pierre had predicted.  Our guidebook gives us cause to hope that Luette is still possible:

The normal route is a short excursion from the Dix hut and would make a good and uncomplicated first outing for Alpine novices.  As it is possible to reach the summit in mid-summer without having to set foot on much serious snow, fitter parties based in Arolla could easily manage a round trip from the valley in a day.

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Ali leads off and we follow a track in the snow towards the Col de Cheilon for a little over a kilometre before cutting up right over mixed scree and snow slopes towards the southern edge of the Luette glacier.  The going is tough – The top layer of snow hasn’t frozen over night and in places we are post-holing up to our thighs and the wind is picking up strength again. 

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As we approach steeper ground we stop to rope up.  The wind is fierce now, and in an instant I am lifted bodily off my feet by a gust, spun in mid air and thrown down on some rocks – my crampons slashing my expensive over trousers in the process.

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We press onwards and upwards, and shortly before reaching the glacier we start to zig zag up to the crest of the south east ridge of La Luette.  At around 3,300m we stop for lunch and perch on a large boulder below a loose scree slope.

Ali and I discuss options – it is clear that we are well behind guidebook time, perhaps understandably given the conditions, but none the less we are behind.  We shouldn’t push our luck on our first Alpine excursion – continuing on and having an “epic” on our first outing would be bad form indeed – we decide to turn around now before the weather deteriorates still further.

Ali leads off – I have but a moment to absorb the amazing Alpine view, in a vain effort to etch it permanently in my memory, before the rope comes taught and we are descending fast.  The words of that great Victorian mountaineer, Leslie Stephen, seem as true this day as when he wrote them in 1871:

“The mountains represent the indomitable force of nature to which we are forced to adapt ourselves, they speak to man of his little-ness and his ephemeral existence.”

Tags: Arolla

5 responses so far ↓

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