On the glacier we move slowly, enveloped in the whiteout. In the first few hours we meet some other ski mountaineers, then nothing more. No tracks. We get off course twice and, between fresh snow and treacherous covered crevasses, we lose a lot of time getting back on track — difficulties that will soon seem relative to us. Indeed, when we face the ascent of the Couloir du Chardonnet we understand the challenges we’re about to take on. The insufficient snow and steep rocks force us to improvise the ascent. We also know that once we cross the saddle, there’s no going back. Should we risk it anyway? To go or not to go. A difficult decision that scares us in some way. We know what we’re getting into, what can go wrong. Then we go.
Steep sections, with climbs on rocks, alternate with sections of rotten snow; moments of total whiteout blend into others where the sun lights our path.
Throughout the entire first day, the terrain offers no respite. Steep descents, often bad snow conditions. And another large crevasse, which strains our nerves. Beyond it, we have time to rest and think, to gaze out over the vast uncontaminated space of the glacier, with its steep slopes laden with fresh snow. The avalanche risk is definitely high.
"We have to get through the first day. Then it will get better.” We repeat it over and over, like a mantra, with every step. It’s now 7 p.m. — extremely late! We need to move quickly but carefully, paying attention to every potential danger. One step after another, without haste, despite having our hearts in our throats.
We finally reach the Cabane du Trient after nightfall, and the sky presents us with a magnificent panorama: a canopy of stars illuminates our last steps to the safety of the hut. I revel in an incredible feeling that makes up for all the day’s uncertainties.