Thursday 13 August 2015
The final mountains
My alpine journey is nearly ended, but not before two very hard days. After completing the traverse of the Mercantour mountains and a last night in a hut, I climbed Monte Argentera (3,297m). There was a nice scramble to the top, but then a very difficult descent taking two and a half hours, during which my water bottle fell from my rucksack and fell tinkling down the mountainside (glad it wasn't me!). After a meal I got the poles out and generated a good pace uphill, but it was a tough day, 30 km and 2,500m of ascent in great heat. At 6.30pm I rather lost it, felt queasy and sick and my stomach rebelled against a mountain of pasta. So in the shelter of a wall I found a good bivvy spot and had a last night under the stars. But I was too tired to enjoy it, yet didn't sleep much. I thought of getting up at 3am, but negotiating a pathless boulder field and glaciated slabs in the dark wasn't appealing, so I set off at 6am, still feeling wretched. After another pass and following a better path, I met up with Pam at 12 and with a smaller and lighter sack felt a little better, finally reaching the campsite at 4.30, having walked 40 km. Coming down from the mountains was like entering a heat bowl and, with an easy 20 km tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to finishing. Menton, here I come!