A mountain is never conquered, it is only when you are lucky enough to stand on top of one as the sun is rising that you realise this.
During the early part of the Summer break the Outdoor Activities Department and 9 young adventures made their way to Arolla, a picturesque Swiss village high up in the mountains. Our guides for the week were Andy Townshend and Steve Long, both well-known names in the Mountaineering world.
On our first day on the Ferpecle Glacier we were given a quick fire introduction to Glacier skills and the use of ice axes and to keep us safe and on our feet for the week.
Day 2 found the team heading up the Moiry Glacier to consolidate the skills learnt the day before on some steeper terrain as we walked in to the Moiry Hut. From there we would begin our ascent of the first Mountain of the week.
An alpine start saw us leaving Moriy Hut at 4.30am as the weather was causing some concern that day. However we pushed through the wind and snow to successfully to stand on the summit of the Pigne de la Le (3396m) via the North Ridge. An incredible achievement especially for those who had been putting their crampons on for the first time just a few days before. The ‘atmospheric’ conditions certainly made the day a serious adventure, the team returned elated and exhausted.
Thursday 4th July had always been planned as a rest day but the team decided to challenge themselves on the rock routes below the village of Arolla putting into practice skills learnt on the new climbing wall at Marlborough College.
We again headed up to a mountain refuge. Walking directly from Arolla we headed west to Pas de Cheores (2855m) and then ascended the North Ridge of an unnamed peak to the summit at 3307m. This proved to be an entertaining scramble and the benefits of the previous days climbing whilst roped together proved valuable. We descended the south ridge until it was possible to access the Glacier de Cheilon and cross over to the Dix Hut which nestled amongst majestic surroundings, dwarfed by the stunning North Face of Mont Blanc du Chellion.
Our final objective was the summit of La Luette (3369m), as we crossed the Glacier on the walk in we were lucky enough to witness a stunning sunrise directly behind us as we ascended the exposed and very narrow South Ridge to complete a tremendous expedition. Once on the summit we had views of Mt Blanc catching the morning sun in one direction and the unmistakable silhouette of the Matterhorn in the other.