Climbing in 1990 – pics from the archive

30th May 2010

We found these pictures from the archive of Chris climbing in another era, 20 years ago. Even then, his gear was Jurassic. Commentary from his son Andrew and friend Nick, with whom Chris was climbing.

1. Preparing for a climb in the French Alps c. 1990. Camping at Les Chosalets campsite in Argentiere. Note the ex-army rucksack, and Dad’s favourite climbing breeches. Dad commented to Fuzz and me how clothing had progressed as we were climbing in tracksters. Note also the “A” frame tents in the background which these days are a thing of the past.
2. Pausing in the Vallée Blanche. You can see a couple of other tents in the background. A magical place. Cooling off in the midday sun. Roped up and approaching the Cosmiques ridge that takes you to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi.
3. The Vallée Blanche again; a superb and enormous bowl high up surrounded by peaks of the Chamonix Aiguilles. The hole in the snow was our access to unfrozen drinking water (of sorts). Dad filling up the water bottles for the following day before it freezes over night.
4. Morning preparations for a crack at the Cosmiques Ridge after a bivouac at the foot of the climb. Note the strap-on crampons (very old technology!) and the Whillans sit harness, guaranteed to ensure no further children should you be unlucky enough to take a fall in it. I am sure he still has it lurking somewhere. Also the classic Joe Brown climbing helmet. This stuff would not look out of place in a Mountaineering Museum. Dad proving however that it’s not what you wear, it’s what you tackle and achieve that counts.
5. On the Cosmiques Ridge itself, a great climb on mixed ground; wonderful Cham granite (or “grornit” as Dad would say) and interspersed with snow and ice pitches. The climb culminates at the viewing platform of the cable car station. One feels quite smug while tourists take you photo as you clamber, as dignified as possible, over the safety rail. Dad had a small bloodied, cut on his finger, which is not uncommon on granite, and a kindly Japanese tourist whipped out a plaster and administered first aid even before he could put down his ice axe!
6. R&R day at the campsite, again note ex-army ’58 mug. What do you think of the dormobile awning with the cute curtains?!

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