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Sorry I've not wrote on my blog for a while. I've had a few things going on. I'd like to say they've been wild, exciting and entertaining things... But they haven't. My heads just been in a funny place lately. For the past two months I've been on stand-by waiting to get into the mountains, but weather and conditions have been rubbish this season. So mostly I've been training on the tools at the local dry-tooling venue, at the wall or run/hike up to the mid stations. I'm gonna try back log a few things that I did do over the past few months.
[caption id="attachment_5737" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Colin and Me running a stunning ridge. Colin and Me running a stunning ridge.[/caption]
This summer was a bit up and down, got a few cool things done but nothing epic. Then I tried to get strong at running, which I try to do every year..
[caption id="attachment_5738" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Me and Lauren running through some boulder terrain. Me and Lauren running through some boulder terrain.[/caption]
I'm ok at running but eventually I go and re-irritate my shin splints or give myself some other silly tweaky injury. One of the best days running I had this summer was a day in September with  Colin, Lauren and Sandy. Colin is such a trail runner who's done some big races and has many more ahead of him, so keep an eye on him here;
[caption id="attachment_5740" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Wee dip in Lac Blanc to cool the feet down. Wee dip in Lac Blanc to cool the feet down.[/caption]
We started at the Brevant top station and continued along the Aiguille rouge to the Col du Montes. Sometimes it's really fun to go out running with a group as you can have a laugh with each other, take some cool photos and try compete with each other... Well I do. I learnt how fun running down hill can be. It's very much the same skills used in mountain biking and skiing.
Some point in the middle of July I went up Mt Blanc, but I wanted to see how fast I could do it in. This was something I had wanted to do for a while but was a bit uncertain about how to do it. I wanted to run/hike quickly from Les Houches to the summit of Mt Blanc. I knew that I could safely and easily get up to the Gouter hut in my trainers, but after the hut it's all snow for another 1000m vertical. I hadn't been up they slopes before so didn't know if I could carry on in trainers or need crampons. As I didn't have light weight mountain boots or crampons, I thought I'd take my main climbing boots which weight 1700g and my crampons that weight 824g, thinking that I'd probably need them after the hut..
[caption id="attachment_5742" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Almost at the Bellevue. Almost at the Bellevue.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_5743" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Running along the train tracks. Running along the train tracks.[/caption]
I set off from Les houches at around 5.30am, then headed up towards the top lift at the Bellevue station and from there I went along the train tracks. Now I had never climbed up or down the Gouter (normal) way to Mt Blanc. I knew that the train tracks continued around to the Nid d'Aigle, but I thought I'd take a short cut that I knew of.... Turns out it's not a good short cut in the summer when there's no snow on it and is just filled with scree! Gotta learn the hard way sometimes. I think I probably lost about 30mins trying to force my way up these horrible slopes. So after that messy patch I continued on the well marked path up to the Tete Rouse, and then across the Grand Couloir. This is the only patch that I thought was a wee bit dodgy in the trainers, but I had my axe and helmet on so felt comfortable enough.  After the colouir I scrambled up the blocky slopes to the hut. These slopes are actually pretty fun to run up, as the whole area has been swept of its original loose rock from the bazillion people that have been up it.
[caption id="attachment_5744" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Back on track, heading up to the Tete Rouse. Back on track, heading up to the Tete Rouse.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_5751" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Grand Colouir. Grand Colouir.[/caption]
So once I reached the hut it was about 10.15am. I went inside the gear room just to chill out for a bit, and then I decided I would try and carry on to the top in my trainers. I thought I'd just go up the first slope and see how it felt in the trainers, and if I didn't like it I'd come back and get my boots. So I ditched the boots and crampons in the gear room, which felt soo good not to have them on my back anymore.
[caption id="attachment_5746" align="aligncenter" width="240"]Just reached the hut. Just reached the hut.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_5745" align="aligncenter" width="450"]View from the Gouter hut. View from the Gouter hut.[/caption]
Obviously I stuck to the massive trail that meanders up to the summit, but interestingly I found I had better grip just next to the trail where it was still frozen and bumpy rather than in the actual track where hundreds of crampons had churned the ice/snow up. The snow slopes to the summit isn't one continues up, it has up, and down sections. So little quick footsteps on the ups, but on the plateaus and the down slopes you can really open up the stride. It felt amazing to actually be running on these vast snowy areas. Am not gonna be modest and lie about it, It makes you feel like an absolute hero running up there. So cool to run on hard pack snow up in the mountains.
The upper parts on the ridge is where you really need to concentrate and watch what you're doing. It's not technically hard, but it's like a giant staircase up the Bosses Ridge that turns into a narrow track up the final ridge. I'd just like to emphasis that if at any point I was unsure or uncomfortable, I would have turned back. I was wanting to see how light and fast I could comfortably go up Mt Blanc, I wasn't doing this for a record or to impress anyone. Which sounds a bit silly as I'm putting this on my blog, but my blog is to share my stories with whomever wants to read them not to boast about what I've done. That's what facebook's for..
[caption id="attachment_5749" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Nearly there. Nearly there.[/caption]
I reached the summit pretty much bang on midday and was really chuffed with myself. It was a bit windy on the top but not too bad so I stuck around for a bit.
[caption id="attachment_5752" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Pleased to be on the top. Pleased to be on the top.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_5753" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Just chilling on top for a bit. Just chilling on top for a bit.[/caption]
It took me around 6hr 30mins bang on from the Bellevue station in Les Houchs up to the summit. I reckon I could take an hour off that, if I go the right way and don't bother with the extra 2.5kg of weight. Please don't think I'm being reckless or anything going up there in my trainers. If I did feel it was icy or dangerous I would have turned around no questions asked, I also had my axe with at all times.
[caption id="attachment_5750" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Still got to concentrate on the way down. Still got to concentrate on the way down.[/caption]
On the way down I took it easy at the top, then once back on the lower open slopes I could get a good jog on again. I think one thing that surprised me was that because I was always moving, my feet never really got cold. Which If you knew me and my circulation you'd be impressed. Once back down at the hut I decided to treat myself to the most expensive tart in the world... her name was Russell! Only joking it was a myrtille tart and cream that tasted way to good.
[caption id="attachment_5747" align="aligncenter" width="240"]Wee treat for being a good boy... Wee treat for being a good boy...[/caption]

Ally Swinton - originally published on Ally Swinton