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~ Tuesday 18th September 2012

 Last week's acclimatising days went well but the forecast for our planned summit days was hopeless - lots of snow on Wednesday and then very cold and windy. Luckily we were able to re-schedule - a few frantic phonecalls to rearrange work/holidays/flights/transfers/hotels...no pressure then!

Things looked good for Sunday Monday with reports of great conditions on the mountain. The new snow had filled in the Grand Couloir and mostly been blown away higher up. Sadly conditions in the Tete Rousse hut were not so good - the grumpy guy messed up our booking so we only had 1 night instead of 2, then he "forgot" to put us on the early dinner despite our 1.30am breakfast. Oh well, we were in the smelly winter dorm so weren't going to sleep much anyway. The bag rustlers and door slammers kept going until late, then the snorer took over only to be amusingly thumped by the guy next to me. Soon pre-dawn chorus of bag rustlers started up then it was time for the 2 pieces of dry bread they call breakfast.

And we were off! Things improved in every way as we left the hut behind, making quick progress up to the Gouter hut.

The painfully early start meant it was still dark leaving Gouter, dark all the way over the Dome du Gouter in fact. And Cold! Eventually a stunning sunrise lit the way over the Bosses and the final ridge, then, there was no more up! Summit!

It was now downhill all the (very long) way. A quick break in the Gouter hut revived the legs a bit. Despite living in a drafty shed at 3800m the Gouter staff seemed efficient, happy and polite. They even enforce the "no boots in the dining room" rule. These guys deserve a new hut! 

A quick scramble down the ridge and we were back at Tet (offensive) Rousse. Grumpy guy grudgingly sold us some water, then we tackled the remaining 1100m down to the train/lift/Chamonix - hard on the feet but better than another night in the hut!