Emily’s Height Advantage.

Chamonix is a steep sided valley, perfect for getting some hill fitness!

Chamonix is a steep sided valley, perfect for getting some hill fitness!

Yes for once in my life I have a height advantage! Living in Chamonix this summer means that I am well acclimatised to higher altitudes. Even though I haven’t spent as much time ‘up high’ as I would have liked, spending all my time above 1000m is better than sitting at sea level.

The main problem with living in the Alps permanently is that you have to juggle work and play (and expedition planning!). I was wondering why I was so tired one week; it took me a while to realise that I had done five days of physical work and two long alpine routes on my separate days off. This was a lesson in why rest is so important.

As I have been working a fair amount recently, I have three ways in which I have been training for Kyrgyzstan. This week I unintentionally did all of them in the space of 72 hours, notching up nearly 5000m of ascent and over 6000m of descent! My knees have not been impressed. Here are some Chamonix style after work activities!

In spite of the signs, I still often go astray on this route.

In spite of the signs, I still often go astray on this route.

1. Via Corda

A classic easy scramble up to the buvette at the start of the ‘James Bond Track’ off the Vallee Blanche. As I have learnt the route better I have improved my times vastly. I’ve finally stopped getting slightly lost on it, which saves time for sure! It’s also amazing how much difference having the right footwear can make. The first time I climbed it in my Innov8 trail shoes, which I felt quite smug about. That is until I used my sticky approach shoes the next time around and easily knocked 20 minutes off my time! Although it took me a while to break the hour barrier, it now takes me about 45 minutes from the trail at the bottom to the buvette.

Mudclaws and slabs... Spicy!

Mudclaws and slabs… Spicy!

2. Plan d’Aiguille Laps, not of the skiing variety!

These are all about the ascent, the beauty of doing Plan reps during the daytime is that you can get the lift back down to town afterwards. I do still wildly mis-time my attempts and often have to make the painful descent back to town. Three laps in one go is the aim, just now two is hard enough work though!

Getting hot on a Plan lap.

Getting hot on a Plan lap.

3. Getting High

As I have a fair number many 4000m peaks on my doorstep, many of them a short cable car ride away, getting altitude in is pretty easy! As I hadn’t been up Mont Blanc yet, I impulsively decided to do it from first lift this Monday. It’s definitely the highest I’ve ever been and I was happy that I didn’t feel the thinness of the air too much. 4000m of descent all the way down to Les Houches was pretty horrific for the legs though. You can read more about this particular adventure on my blog here.

Monte Bianco!

Monte Bianco!


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