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Bivvying on glacier d'argentiere and col du midi

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Hi All,

Due to budget restraints, a friend and I are hoping to bivvy on the Glacier d'Argentiere and Col du Midi prior to climbing Aiguille D'Argentiere and 3 Monts traverse in August.

I haven't had any experience bivvying on glaciers before, and wondered if anyone had any advice on the subject or has done a similar thing before.

My plan was to try and dig some kind of snow trench for a bit of shelter (no tent, just sleeping bag and bivvy bag).

Is this a good idea or is there not enough snow around? I'm assuming there'll be enough snow on the col du midi, but maybe not on the glacier d'argentiere.

Any thoughts, both good and bad, would be welcome.

Thanks,

Andy.
 Petarghh 17 Jul 2010
In reply to Andy Kuszyk: Recently bivied above the argentiere hut, loads of rock arrangements there to sleep on, nice flat sports, dont bother with kipping on the glacier..

also kipped in the Aig du midi station, the guards werent too fussed, about 6 of us kipped in the toilets there (heated)...
In reply to Petarghh:

Cool, I hadn't thought of either of those option. Thanks.
 pyrrho101 17 Jul 2010
In reply to Andy Kuszyk: Also, there will probably be lots of pre dug bivi spots on the Vallee Blanche (sp?). At least there was when I was with Petarghh a few weeks back.
 pec 17 Jul 2010
In reply to Andy Kuszyk: Just be careful as you dig in the Vallee Blanche, you never know what someone else has left behind there!
troglodyte 17 Jul 2010
In reply to pec:
> (In reply to Andy Kuszyk) Just be careful as you dig in the Vallee Blanche, you never know what someone else has left behind there!

Actually that was something I was wondering about - there's no ethic of packing out your own waste around Cham?

And how about bivvying below the snowline? no problem as long as you don't leave a tent up?
 Petarghh 17 Jul 2010
In reply to troglodyte:
> (In reply to pec)
> [...]
>
> Actually that was something I was wondering about - there's no ethic of packing out your own waste around Cham?
>
> And how about bivvying below the snowline? no problem as long as you don't leave a tent up?

I walked past a few open "poo holes" while crossing from the aig du midi towards the cosmiques hut

below the snow is fine, leave the tent pitching til dusk, and make sure you're out of the way and it shouldnt be a problem at all.

Saying all that, people were leaving tents up all day on the col du midi and I saw a few cheeky bivi tents pitched barely 50m from the albert prem hut.
In reply to Andy Kuszyk:

If you are going to sleep on the snow make sure you have a decent sleeping mat. Mine deflated on the midi and made for a very cold night.
 Bruce Hooker 17 Jul 2010
In reply to Andy Kuszyk:

I bivvied on the Argentière glacier in 2006 and we found some nice gravelly spots on the side moraines on the way up towards the Aiguille Noire. You can level off such places to pitch a tent or put you bag down and it's warmer than sleeping directly on ice or snow. If you do need to sleep on snow (better than ice) then make yourself a little snow wind break round you, as you suggested, and use every last bit of soft gear underneath - ropes, slings, rucksack etc - to insulate yourself from the cold. You should be all right at the sort of temperatures you can expect in the Alps in Summer. A little bivy mat would add a touch or luxury though, but you can do without if you arrange the gear carefully.
In reply to Andy Kuszyk:

Cool, thanks guys. I was thinking about taking a roll mat anyway, I figured sleeping directly on the glacier would be fairly chilly.

Good info about Argentiere glacier, I suppose my main reason for sleeping on the glacier was to be completely safe from rock fall, but is the consensus that sleeping on the moraine is safe?

Think we'll sleep on the col somewhere since we're hoping to climb the chere couloir the day before and it would make sense to just stay where we are.

Do you think its worth taking a stove between us to save on weight or one each to save on time when melting snow and cooking?

Andy.
 Bruce Hooker 20 Jul 2010
In reply to Andy Kuszyk:

You have to choose a spot that is out of range of any rock or serac fall, of course. The moraines I mean are the ones actually on the glaciers, the stones have fallen higher up and moved down and away from the cliffs they fell from over the years. The place we bivvied on was on the way up to the Aiguille Noir, a km or so above the refuge. I'll put a photo up this evening.
 Bruce Hooker 25 Jul 2010
In reply to Andy Kuszyk:

Here are two photos of the bivvy spot on the moraine I promised.... better late than never.

http://www.windmillweb.info/various/bivi_ooking_down_to%20Argentiere_glacier.jpg

http://www.windmillweb.info/various/bivi_ooking_up_to_Aiguille_Noir_with_Paul.jpg

Enjoy yourself.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
Nice pics Bruce - I'd echo your comment on staying away from potential rock fall, of any sort. The first (or second?) season I went to the alps, a lad coming down the upper bits of the mer de glace, a bit late; decided sensibly to bivvy under a moraine boulder. Unfortunatly, the boulder moved during the night...
Bad outcome and very sobering given that I'd used moraine boulders for shelter a couple of times...
James Jackson 26 Jul 2010
In reply to Petarghh:

> also kipped in the Aig du midi station, the guards werent too fussed

Yeah, just before the last lift the guards come round and say 'You know you really must leave, nudge nudge wink wink.'. They then promptly don't care that despite the "Yes, but of course, we are on our way now" reply, you continue to stay, cook supper, and kip for the night. It's all a jovial game.

The bad thing to do is set out your pit while the station is still open. That's just not cricket.

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