1991: – I arrive ready to test myself in the Mecca of climbing. My bag is heavy and I pitch my tent in the pimple of Chamonix- Snell’s Field. Free camping only because it is technically illegal so that means no ablution to speak of. The filth is heavy in the air but we are here to test ourselves against the masterpieces of old. I pitch my tent in a ditch and get comlpetely drenched during the night. I get locked up in a shower in the tennis club after sneaking in undetected! I end up doing a hanfull of routes on the lower peaks. However I learn a huge amount and this is a turning point in my climbing career.
2010: My focus has changed but my bag is just as heavy. I camp in the Mer de Glace campsite with several stars. It is actually just across the river from my previous home. Sparkly bathrooms and WiFi make quite a change. I again pitch my tent in a hollow and get punished. I have learnt about travelling fast and light and head for the trails with a skimpy pack as my only companion. The French snobbish attitude has not changed much. I have found free internet in town and decide to keep my homies updated.
This truly is the outdoor center of the world. Trails are well marked and very runnable, that is if your legs will allow you! The hills here are so steep that my heals seldom touch the ground. The downhills are just as bad. I can only recomend this as a trail running/walking destination. The free buss services access several spots around the valley with trails of utmost beauty.
I have checked out three sections of the UTMB course so far and it has helped immensly to feel more confident. Today is a general rest day and checking out the last few km’s into town. Tomorrow I take the bus to Courmayeur and run a section there. That should also help as I plan to head to 2500m. The sun has even come out a bit yesterday which lifted my mood imensely!