It was in early June when I got together with Philippe Guilhemotonia to return some French Alps climbing books. Philippe, who learned his climbing skills in France, has lived in the U.S. for over 10 years and we have done some Cascade climbing together. In two days, Philippe was leaving on an extended vacation in France to visit his parents. He planned to be away until early October.
Philippe said, "Why don't you come to France and we will climb Mont Blanc and Cervin (the French name of The Matterhorn)?", to which I replied, "Why not?" Philippe had long dreamed of doing the "traversée" of the summits of Mont Blanc, so we decided to make the traverse our primary objective. At 15,774 feet, Mont Blanc is the highest peak in The Alps. If the conditions are then favorable, we will then attempt The Matterhorn.
We decided that September would be best based on Philippe's schedule and the fact that the crowds would be less and good plane flights would be easier to get. We then packed up Philippe's climbing gear for me to bring in September, and consummated our plans with a toast of cognac.
In addition, I was able to work in a visit to my German relatives whom I had met over The Internet.
The following pages describe the journey.