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It is not so much the damage to my toes but unpredictable outcome of a day out that is a common factor in the following three adventures. People seem to be so vulnerable in the mountains. On one side we have growing experience and on the other ever changing environment where creativity is a better survival tool. One thing I've lernt for sure, is that we can build no control over the chaos of nature.

Madness Tres Mince, Pre de Bar


I look up the desolate expanse of the Argentiere glacier. The wind howls like with a banshee like wail, blowing ice cold spindrift into my face. Glancing down at my feet I attempt to move my toes. I can feel nothing. Ollie, my climbing partner stands next to me, hunched over his ski poles. The wasted expression on his thin face tells the story of our epic attempt to walk into the Pre de Bar without skis in the darkest month of winter.

Foolishly trusting in remaining reserves of energy we decide to leave our gear by the route hoping to come back few hours later with a dawn of a new day. The grief of Argentiere Hut reviles bleak truth. After 9 hours approach up the glacier my trekking boots got ice frozen and my big toes with them. They are white like a piece of frozen chicken. Sitting in a dark corner with our head torches on we are pumping pints of bitter, boiling hot tea down our throats. Dry blankets and strong beverage thaw our damaged psyche and bodies. Now for the first time I feel sharp, piercing from my feet right to my brain waves of pain. Nursing me to stop my legs from spans of uncontrollable shivers takes 3 hours of our precious sleep. By the morning my mild hypothermia has wasted us so much that we decide to come back to civilisation immediately, without retrieving gear. It's an ugly, gloomy morning, not a promise of good weather. Once again, defeated by the mountains we are withdrawing empty-handed.

Five days later after 3 days of continuous snowing, with blackish shells on toes dressed in brand new "La Sportivas" and on skis we are back to miraculously find our gear and to do Madness Tres Mince. A day later sitting in The Shack with a bottle of whisky we thanked Father Christmas for these well-deserved presents. Superb route, new boots, warmth of a wood stove, plans for next routes and wise New Years resolutions.