After meeting up in Albertville and decision made it was off to the Col des Aravis and the via ferrata Yves Pollet-Villard on the cliffs overlooking the col.
Arrving at the foot of the route after about 20 minutes we geared up.? There was a large group that seemed to comprise several families with young children the youngest probably around 8 years old.? They set off before we were ready but it was only a moment before one of the children was in tears and descended with the aid of one of the adults.? I was surprised to see children of that age un-roped as it’s highly advisable with children (and effectively obligatory when working professionally with them).? I certainly rope up my youngest daughter (9).
It was a beautiful autumn (at least a couple of days before it’s official start) day with blue skies but without the intense light of summer.? The Pierra Menta in the Beaufortain could be seen in the distance and the Glacier de la Vanoise.
Soon we reached one of the key features of the route a “Nepal” bridge gained after a short descent round a nose of rock.? I went ahead so that I could take a video of this section with a terrific backdrop of alpine pastures, chalets and the limestone bulk of La Tournette in the distance.? We continued to a flattening where we stopped to enjoy our sandwich and drink in the views and breath in the fresh, alpine air.
Movement caught my eye below and saw me reaching for my camera as a “Bearded Vulture” (Gypaete Barbu – fr) or Lammergaier thermalled effortlessly below above the pine trees below the cliff.? It circled gaining height as it rose along the line of the cliff.? I snapped away hoping to get a good shot.? It’s a majestic bird with an adult’s wingspan reaching c. 2m 80cm.? After this perfect demonstration of thermalling that I could never match when I paraglided we moved on.? It’s moments like this that make my day and sharing this moment with Helen and Owen was a highlight of the day.
Soon we were below the exit with two choices, one over the short overhang or two an easy traverse of the ledges and up a short gully.? There wasn’t much of a discussion, the overhang beckoned.? After dropping off the rope coils I had tied off around me I quickly installed myself above so that I could give a direct belay, more for my own peace of mind.? Helen and Owen made short work of it and the rope wasn’t required but there “just in case”.? A few minutes later we were at the finish and getting out the remainder of our food and just enjoying relaxing in the sun after a great few hours spent together in a picture-postcard environment.