Always looking for the slightest excuse to get out of a stifling hot flat we headed one Sunday in July 2008 back into the mountains far from the madding crowd in search of a place called “Alpes d’huez”…
Oops, guess what? I took a wrong turning and we landed up in a place called “Les 2 Alpes”. Oh well, I thought, these mountain passes are all the same, open and wild with not a soul in sight 50 metres after leaving the parking. Not so this one! Les 2 Alpes was so chock-a-block packed that we turned round and headed off in search of a place we visited last year, called La Grave.
Last time we only went up the ski lift to the 2400-metre station, a personal best in mountain altitude. This time we went the whole hog up to the 3200-metre station with its Glacier, a new personal best, outside of a plane. Talking of planes a two-seater plane flew by so close you’d thought it was going to land and honestly seeing as how the ski lift cabin was swinging and swaying I think my beloved would have preferred the ride in the plane than to do the twice twenty-minute relay ride again!
Last time we came we only had light summer clothes so this time we made the effort – climbing shoes, mountain sticks, k-ways and Raybans, water, hot tea and digestive biscuits – thinking we would still be light compared to the others.
For some we were, I mean there are people who go on walks for miles and miles across the glacier and have the right equipment, helmets, spiked shoes, wind cheaters and most importantly spiked sticks and cord, the works! (the people were actually corded together)…. and then there were the others, mostly Dutch-speaking, by the sounds of it who, when we were there, were clothed in tank tops, shorts and sandals or trainers, no socks, with their kids running round the glacier near the cliff edges like they were in their gardens back home – cliff edges that fall at least 500 metres down and not a parent in snatching distance, made me shudder especially when time and again French TV report accidents in such mountain resorts due to people in summer clothing sliding off paths into the nothingness below, whatever.
So what next? Well, if we had so much fun at 3 200m why not try higher? I think I’ll persuade my better half to go and visit Mont Blanc, hoping that the ski lifts are smoother.