Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Toiling up La Tournette
Toiling up La Tournette
Ian has an irritating fascination with maps, and is infuriatingly drawn to brown lines on maps! I mean the sort that get very close together, when there are hills and mountains. This knowledge, coupled with the Lonely Planet’s description of the area, drew him to La Tournette. The LP states that “experienced hill-walkers (that’d be us) wanting a stiff (that’d be Ian!) but straightforward (that’d be me!) mountain ascent could tackle La Tournette(2351m)., which dominates the beautiful, turquoise Lac d’Annecy. You could reduce the height to a reasonable 1200m by driving up nearby Col de Forclaz and then walking up to Col de L’Aulp before beginning the rather steep ascent. Now, later in the passage it talks about scrambling using chains and hand-rails, which seemed to somewhat contradict the “straight-forwardness” of the climb. As I’ve got older, I’ve found that I’m getting reasonably fit at climbing. As with cycling, I get into a rhythm and plod on. But coming down is a different matter entirely. Ian’s got some excellent footage of me coming down backwards, in Mittagong, Southern Highlands of NSW, Aus, zooming in on my rear end and making all kinds of sarcastic comments, like “My mum could come down faster!”. The knees have lost their shock absorbers!
However we did it in good time, helped by the usual array of stunning alpine meadow flowers, cornflowers, astrantia, wild geraniums, scabious, and hundreds others. There were herds of cows with their massive jangling bells, grazing under huge rock faces that soared into the bright blue sky. Why wouldn’t you want to risk life and limb on a little scramble!
When we reached the top, WOW!!!!! Mont Blanc in all its white-topped glory, right there in front of us. We sat and ate a boiled egg and cereal bar, savouring every moment, at least I did, as Ian legged it off the summit to a more sheltered spot just below!!!
Coming down was slow. The minute you started to relax, the gravel under foot would suddenly slide and send every tired muscle and tendon spasming and bracing for the inevitable crash onto your back-side. I thought of Grandma coming downstairs backwards, and realised that I wasn’t far behind!!! But it was worth it, even though two days later my thighs were still trying to tell me that I was a 50something year old woman!!!
We’d left the van at the head of the Col de Forclaz and gingerly made our way back down the narrow track to Menthon Saint Bernard, hoping not to meet anybody on the way down! We couldn’t have left the van on the site, because you have to be off before 12noon. Incidentally, we find a really nice site on the edge of Lac Annecy, in Menthon Saint Bernard, where the patron saint of hill-walkers lived. The site was quite full and there were signs that we were heading into a busy touristy area. A lovely place but I’d try it outside August next time.