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Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps at 15,780. I conspired with a friend in Houston to book a guided summit attempt during the first week in September 2012.


This chalet in Chamonix, France served as home base for the week for our team of 7. After orientation, we took a van to Italy to climb Gran Paradiso (13,320). This would serve as a training climb, where we would learn to use alpine equipment.


At a restaurant near the trailhead. I was a bit intimidated by the fitness level of our group. To my right is Alex Partridge, who was fresh off winning a bronze medal for Great Britain (rowing) in the Olympics. His friend Toby (red jacket) is a professional triathlete. Oh great.


Sophie, Mike, and John during a rest stop as we headed up the trail.


Ibex grazing, about halfway up to the hut.


A rainy day, but nice views back down the valley.


Our base camp hut, where we would stay for two nights.


This spot was rumored to have cell phone reception.


Hut life. We were to leave before dawn so had to sleep fast.


We arrived at the glacier just as it began to get light. This would be my first time to ever use a rope, harness, crampons, or ice axe. Also my first time to be on a glacier. Other than that I was pretty much an expert.


Crossing the crevasses, sometimes on little ice bridges, was definitely spooky. I would have liked to take pictures, but in those areas my guide was quite clear: Do. Not. Pause. Here. I got this pic from Alex.


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