Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hors d'oeuvres, anyone?

Mrs M and I have just about recovered from our Alpine training camp...a week in Les Arcs in the French Alps , followed by a week in the High Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. Ouch. It was exhausting, painful, exhilarating, spectacular...and revealing. I think we both realise that however challenging these two weeks were, we really need to step up the Kili preparation over the remaining 5 months.
France was supposed to be a relaxing hors d'oeuvre before the main Swiss role. Erm....it didn't quite turn out like that, as Mrs M is used to by now. Based at 1,950m we had 4 great walks with some fairly epic ascents and descents, excellent weather, wrong turns and a near-divorce. The piece de resistance, almost culminating in the matrimonial courts, was one of those let's just have a nice leisurely stroll days. We took the bus around the mountain to Arc 1650, before a relaxed jaunt up to 1800. Then on to Peisey and Vallandry for a wonderful and typically French lunch, perched on the verandah of a small bistro overlooking the Vanoise Express lift span across to La Plagne. Perfect cloudless skies, chilled vin rose, simple but exquisite nosh, the chien de maison lurking in vain for any scraps - bloody merveilleux!
We should have just circled back around the mountain to 1800 or 1650, and gone home for a swim and a sauna. But we didn't. Instead we somehow strode out sharply upwards in the direction of a church or something. And from there I said what if we carry on up around this side of the mountain, high above the Vanoise national park valley floor....we should link up with that wonderful walk we did from 1950 a couple of years ago.
A few hours later, as the shadows lengthened in sympathy with the dying embers of our marriage, we finally crested the Col de la Chal ridge at, ooh, 2,400m give or take a few painful metres. And from there it was still another hour or so home, down the high right hand side of the 2000 valley, Mrs M's weakening sense of humour only partially rescued by the joy of seeing normally shy marmottes frolicking in the late evening sun.
Blisters, misplaced sense of direction, tightening calf muscles and clenched fists were almost certainly not ideal preparation for the main course to follow next week. From France we were heading into the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland to do battle with the mighty Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau. Fortunately we would have our trusty Inntravel maps, hotels and walking notes to lead us safely on our way. Wouldn't we?
Stay tuned to read about our fantastic week in the Swiss Alps in late August. If only they'd told us to bring skis and St Bernards....


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