Thursday, 31 January 2013

Day 6: The big thaw, Cascate di Lillaz, conquering fears and Village du Cogne

Another 8 hours sleep last night, I could get used to this. I'm starting to enjoy the extra sleep that I normally live without. Too bad I'll never manage to keep it up when I get home. I arrive at breakfast this morning to find out there has been a bit of a thaw during the night and it's set to be sunny and a lot warmer today which means any route that gets direct sunlight is going to deteriorate pretty quickly. So we decide to head back to Cascate di Lillaz again where we started on Monday as it has quick access from the road but that we would do the top 3 pitches first before the sun comes out before doing the bottom pitches if we have time.

So we head out to the route and walk up to our 1st pitch which was a relatively low angled climb of about 50m in length but to start we had to walk over a frozen pool, not my idea of fun that's for sure especially when you can hear all the water rushing underneath your feet. The climb itself was so nice and I found it quite easy. Definitely a nice warm up pitch.

Our 2nd pitch was slightly more of a challenge for me as we had a pool of water on our left at the start of the route. 1: I am not a fan of pools of water, be they small or large, icy or warm and 2: I certainly do not want to fall off an ice route and be plunged into one so this pitch was more about conquering fears for me. The route itself, once I got focused, was lovely. Not steep and not boring, just right and of a good length too at almost 50m again.

The 3rd of our pitches was a little more steep to begin with but just for a short section so just when you started to get the hang of it, it was almost over. A nice challenge and a great way to warm back up after standing in the cold, windy shade at the top of the 2nd pitch. After the initial steep section, you go over onto what could almost be a slab for a few steps. I love that part because you get some excellent rest for your arms and your legs before continuing to the top of the route which had some snow, some thin ice and some mixed climbing again before topping out into the sunshine... What a beautiful finish.

After a little lunch we head back down to the bottom of Cascate di Lillaz and Andy sets up a top rope for us to have a wee play on some more ice before the sun hits the bottom and it starts to melt. We each do a pretty strenuous route up the middle of the ice before the sun comes out. We then decided to head into the Village du Cogne for some coffee and a spot of lunch. We totally deserve it this week, we've worked hard.

The village is such a lovely, quaint little place. Very quiet, you could almost be forgiven for thinking it has been abandoned. I guess their season is in the summer when the apartments will mostly be occupied. It's a shame it doesn't get more traffic in winter because what a beautiful place it is. However, on the other side of that, it's probably best because then the ice routes aren't stacked with hundreds of people. It's a dilemma really.

After lunch, we head back to the hotel. We have a little more time to spare today so I decided to pack my bag, shower and then go chill in the bar where I treated myself to another cup of the worlds best hot chocolate. It's so good. It's like a melted chocolate bar in a cup with cream on top. I love it. I was then treated to some free champagne curtesy of some French people who had just arrived that afternoon. Quite sweet really and it was just lovely to relax with a few people. After yet another massive dinner which is impossible for me to finish, I stayed in the bar for a while and talked to a few people then eventually gave up and went to bed. Tiredness is just so dominant these days.

S xx

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