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Vosges - Day 2 : Le Grand Ballon

At night I had been lying halfway underneath the log I was leaning against, but still slept well. Although the temperature had dropped to -9 degrees I hadn't felt cold. Outside my sleeping bag it was a cold tough, so I quickly put on my clothes and ate. Packing everything went smooth, although I needed to stop a few times to warm my hands. Walking down the hill I felt my blisters

 

I planned to climb the Grand Ballon today, at 1424 meters the highest mountain in the Vosges. Internet claimed there was already 60 cm of snow in some places, however, here the sun was shining and there wasn't any snow in the area around Thann. I didn't mind, as it would allow me to gradually get used to walking. After some climbing I passed one of the many mountain cabins of the Vosges club. The people there shut the door as soon as they saw me. Shortly after I reached a nice view where I made some photos.

PC198965_edited.jpg
ice crystals

The road went uphill. There were small patches of snow that gradually became larger until everything was covered by a thick layer. While climbing the sun was shining and I felt really warm. I hadn't expect that. At one point I was knee deep in the snow. It was pretty though to carry 15 kg of luggage uphill through the deep snow. Soon I arrived at the Collet Molkenrain, with the Molkenrain cabin. There was also a small fountain which meant I didn't need to melt any water. From up here I could clearly see the Grand Ballon with its weather station.

Molkenrain cabin
Molkenrain
Molkenrain
grand ballon

I descended the mountain and continued towards the Grand Ballon. I also passed a war graveyard with 30.000 graves. That would have been a good answer to the custom officer's question of why I wasn't in the military. After a while I reached an asphalt road with a sign saying it would be a 3,5 hour climb to the top. That would mean I'd arrive in the evening. The 7 km climb with an average incline of 8% would be tough. The first kilometers went fine, although most people I passed looked surprised to see me going uphill rather than down. I was getting hungry, but as it was getting dark I kept going.

village in the vosges
snow on the grand ballon
sunset in the vosges
snow on the grand ballon
snow on the grand ballon

Soon I reached the really deep snow, but fortunately the road itself was snow free. Later the road stopped and I needed to walk through the 50 cm deep powdery snow. It was only 500 meter until the summit but I could hardly walk. When I finally arrived there was no-one there except a few people in the weather station. As I was starving I decided to cook dinner behind a statue on the 1424 meter high summit, with a view over the setting sun and the distant Alps. It was the best meal I ever had and pretty cool to be there all by myself. I am pretty sure the people in the weather station had seen me, but didn't really care. On the way down I realized sliding would be faster than walking. Sitting down on my waterproof pants I slid down the mountain at a nice speed. Every inch of the forest was covered in snow so I had no choice but to pitch my bivy bag on top. I still slept pretty well and didn't feel cold. I also tried to call home but had no connection.