Rebuffat-Bacquet

Looking at photos of the recent club trip to Chamonix, I got to reminiscing about my own trips there and was inspired to write a poem about an ascent of the iconic Rebuffat-Bacquet route on the South Face of the Aiguille du Midi, back in August 2012, with Tim Larrad. (For those of you who like technical details, it’s in haiku – three line verses of 5/7/5 syllables. And yes, I do really love long words!)

Rebuffat-Bacquet, Aiguille du Midi

still warm to the touch
never let finally cool –
orogeny’s fire

bright granite aiguille
burning through millennia
of Chamonix sun

our needle of noon
rushing from the glacier
emptying the air

in high summer Alps:
struggling from boots to rock shoes
stork-like on the snow

canicular heat
irradiates brain and bone
exalts rock and sky

so beauty dazzles
crystalline, imperious
orange and cobalt

but granting passage
to suitors from the snowline
treading so softly

through their doubts and dreams
up sinuous cracks and flakes
layback, bridge and jam

hours merge, shadows shift
ticking round the Vallée Blanche
till we flop, sprawl, bask

complete at the top…
now just multiple abseils
to pick up our gear

and catch a late ‘phrique:
mist phantoms gather and dance
along the last ridge –

clumsy with fatigue
back to the sun decks and shops
threading the summit

still in harnesses
clanking with ill-sorted gear
and dying for beer

long holiday queues
and two hours’ wait for the ‘phrique –
but mountain sense tells

at the info desk:
flash your unpacked cams and win
the magic tickets

alpinists only
and straight to the next car down:
the attendant smiles,

touches hand to brow:
mock salute or shield against
the glow from our eyes

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.