top of page


Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Looking at photos of the recent club trip to Chamonix, I got to reminiscing about my own trips there and was inspired to write a poem about an ascent of the iconic Rebuffat-Bacquet route on the South Face of the Aiguille du Midi, back in August 2012, with Tim Larrad. (For those of you who like technical details, it’s in haiku – three line verses of 5/7/5 syllables. And yes, I do really love long words!)

Rebuffat-Bacquet, Aiguille du Midi

still warm to the touch never let finally cool – orogeny’s fire

bright granite aiguille burning through millennia of Chamonix sun

our needle of noon rushing from the glacier emptying the air

in high summer Alps: struggling from boots to rock shoes stork-like on the snow

canicular heat irradiates brain and bone exalts rock and sky

so beauty dazzles crystalline, imperious orange and cobalt

but granting passage to suitors from the snowline treading so softly

through their doubts and dreams up sinuous cracks and flakes layback, bridge and jam

hours merge, shadows shift ticking round the Vallée Blanche till we flop, sprawl, bask

complete at the top… now just multiple abseils to pick up our gear

and catch a late ‘phrique: mist phantoms gather and dance along the last ridge –

clumsy with fatigue back to the sun decks and shops threading the summit

still in harnesses clanking with ill-sorted gear and dying for beer

long holiday queues and two hours’ wait for the ‘phrique – but mountain sense tells

at the info desk: flash your unpacked cams and win the magic tickets

alpinists only and straight to the next car down: the attendant smiles,

touches hand to brow: mock salute or shield against the glow from our eyes

21 views0 comments


bottom of page