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DON’T LOOK DOWN Climbing Mont Blanc is hard enough, but one hiker almost didn’t see the end of his trip Words by Dan Thornton

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hey say that when HoraceBénédict de Saussure first saw Mont Blanc in 1760, he found its physical presence overwhelming, later writing “My eyes could not encounter this mountain without my being sized with a pang.” Little did I know I would relive this when I hiked Mont Blanc, over 250 years later. Initially when I heard about the trip, I hoped I would be walking the Tour du Mont Blanc. A bucket list pilgrimage for long-distance hikers, it’s an 11 day walk through 170km of dramatic landscapes. Though a challenge, it felt achievable. It quickly became apparent I would be taking on the three day climb, a tougher but, I was assured, equally achievable feat. This couldn’t feel further away from my day job; my average day

involves sitting at a desk from nineto-five. The only regular walk I do is to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. Though climbing Mont Blanc isn’t overly technical, I had little over three weeks to prepare myself. I began filling my spare time with training opportunities. I cycled the 10 mile route to work every day, and back, and took to jogging at lunchtimes. I struggled to prepare myself mentally. But I told myself a thousand times a day, no matter how much it hurt, I would stand on top of Mont Blanc. I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other to make it a reality. Before I knew it, I was on my way. The journey from Geneva to Chamonix, where the route begins, is just over an hour, and it felt like no time at all before

I arrived in the majestic mountains. Chamonix has long been considered a mecca for those who love the mountains in summer and winter; and I could see why. I could feel Mont Blanc’s presence, as though it cast a shadow around every task. Chamonix was bubbling with life, and as other hikers raved how much they’d enjoyed their own trips up the mountain, I could feel myself getting more and more eager to begin. Nervously, I prepped my gear, meeting Olly, the IFMGA guide who would be getting me up (and down) Mont Blanc safely. He was reassuring though; Olly has a knowing look in his eye and a calm tone to his voice which you only get from years and years spent in the mountains. He talked me through the possibility of altitude sickness, what to expect from the

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Elevation Magazine 2018  

Elevation is the summer magazine from the Ski Club of Great Britain. It's full of news and features designed to help you enjoy all that the...

Elevation Magazine 2018  

Elevation is the summer magazine from the Ski Club of Great Britain. It's full of news and features designed to help you enjoy all that the...

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