Snowshoes, pancakes and Mont Buet. PS. Goodbye Nalgene. 26.02.2021

In 2021, the day came when I went to climb a pre-selected mountain. Or was it she who “fancied me?” Who knows?

We saw each other for the first time in 2020, from a distance, from another massif. Mont Buet is the highest peak of the Giffre Massif in the Western Alps. This mountain played an important role in mountaineering in the 18th century as it was the highest peak – then conquered – from which explorers of the time took measurements of Mont Blanc, then still unconquered, among other things.
Some people warned me, said only go there in summer, others didn’t know I was going there at all. I remember that at work, they wanted to change my day off, but…. I made up my mind, and I went. Then, after a few months, I didn’t work there anymore hehe, well. The passion, however, continues. And so.

It was February at the time, so wintry. I took with me a litre thermos of tea, pancakes, dark – chocolate, snowshoes, a ice axe of course you know. A few spare batteries, a camera and a sports camera. Appropriate clothes.

I left home in the morning, took the local train, and got off in the village from where the action starts. The village of Le Buet at 1339mnpm. And then, 9km of arduous ascent. Uphill. Downhill the second as much, but admittedly without skis, much faster. Approaches of almost 1800m.

I wasn’t yet freeskiing at the time, and the summit is popular for ski touring, so inevitably I met such enthusiasts. Some smiled warmly, others seemed to be cocking their heads. Well, it’s only the space that changes in the mountains, and the people are the same as everywhere. Some helpful, open to the other person, empathetic. Others less so. Just like everywhere.

I continued along the ski trail. The landscape was opening up more and more of Nature.Even madame weather was quite favourable. When I reached the Pierre à Bérard hut (1924m), I didn’t find it. In the sense of not seeing it. A funny situation, because the Gps insists that I am standing in the right place, but no building is visible.Finally I have noticed a piece of wall, as if from a window sticking out of the snow. The conclusion was simple, the shelter is there, but underneath. Covered up. I sat down, took out a thermos and pancakes.


Further on the way was arduous, but great. Around 2600m the snow turned into ice. There were times when there was no one around, and I, following the skitour trail, and I had entered a little exposed terrain.

It turned out that it was a trace of a descent rather than an approach. It simply weaved through. It was already somewhere on two900 and I was stuck a little, so…I had to act. With a quick reorganization , Nalgene said goodbye to me. She decided to fall out of her backpack. Never mind. Up. I wrestled the blades into the ice, and ride. Ice axe in motion.

I like ice axes, a lot. Especially when they penetrate where they need to. I like that movement. That dynamism. Some primordial element in it I see. Further on I went already plateau, to the summit.

I was on it alone. Impressions, hormones, wind and photos. It lasted maybe 5 minutes, and I decided to descend, for the sake of time. The lack of skis was already clearer in my head, but it was going down superbly. Already without racquets, no longer on the trail, and zigzags, just where the eyes will carry. Especially below the ice level, in the snow. I remembered that I had NRC foil with me ( already in pieces, after another bivouac) so it served as a means of sliding, to put it simply, between my ass and the snow. Fun, maybe not like on haybags, once in the countryside, but the same kind. The descent went down fairly quickly. Two hours and some. Earlier I noticed from below a group of skiers above, awesome I thought, it would be fantastic to go down like this one day.

At the river, already at the end of the descent , I replenished the lack of water. But no Nalgene. Skiers arrived. One lady congratulated, warm words were exchanged. Nice. Then I went probably out of joy to get an Ipa, even two. I don’t drink alcohol every day, but then I celebrated. The reason for the celebration was my first winter three-thousander. By myself.

For me. And for the memories.

Mont Buet 3096m.

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