Alps log: day 1
8am. Arrive in Genève. I don’t see beyond the arrival gate. I take an Alpybus for 25€ to Chamonix. Sleeping in the van means I miss the entry into the valley. When I awake, I am surrounded by mountains, glaciers, and well-healed frenchmen on holiday. Everyone is non-plussed about everything.
I buy up maps, groceries, and camping fuel. I sign in at the Maisson de High Montagne. The ranger tells me I cannot do my hike alone because it is too dangerous, there are crevasses. I start to cry. Everyone is embarassed about everything. When I show him my route in my book, he realizes I meant Argentiere the TOWN not argentiere the refuge located on the glacier. Smiles around. Language barrier getting in the way exhibit A.
Lunch: fromage au bleu1 and a fresh baguette. And a bananana. Eaten on a bench in main street. Some of the women here are quite captivating. After my french fails, I try to communicate with them in international language of I-am-taking-photos-of-you-with-a-long-telescopic-lens.
Stage 1: chamonix – argentière
El gain: 214m
Key guidebook quote: “..if on the first day out from chamonix your legs and lungs complain, then you’ve probably not done enough to get fit, and the crossing of Col de balme will be less enjoyable than it deserves…”
Day 1 is really a warm up. 2 hrs to a nearby town mostly through a valley. My bag is digging into my shoulders. I think it’s 10 lbs too heavy. I’ll never enjoy day 6 with a bag like this. I dream up a plan to shed weight: Go to the Poste and mail shit home.
Arrive in Argentiere, a cozy French town. Backpackers and climbers everywhere. I find the campground in town. For my 7€, it has hot showers and electrical outlets.
Once I make camp, the overnight flight catches up with me and I pass out cold.
[posted from Restaurant Escale wifi in le chable. Free if you’re polite and sit for a drink]
- which i know from these useful language tapes means “blue fromage” [↩]