Climbing Grande Sassiere
Twelve years ago resting on the side of a ski piste in Tignes, France, we were looking across the valley to the largest peak on the horizon.
“That’s Sassiere, you can climb that” announced my friend Jason and I thought that seemed like a cool thing to do and made a mental note that one day I might just try it.
…and finally last week that ‘one day’ arrived!
Earlier this year in June I did a recky for the climb with Kath; one of my best friends, mother of three and constant source of inspiration to me and last week I was back in Tignes for three days and the weather was looking good.
Our recky climb proved invaluable, it’s easy to go wrong at the start of this climb and we had done just that! (From the car park near the lake, take the HIGHER path through the meadows!).
Our alarm went off at 4.30am and we had reached the car park by 5.20am and although almost a full moon, the cloud covering shut out all the light and it was pitch black. We were so excited to finally be attempting this peak.
It’s a steep ascent to the start of the West ridge. Our first hour was in darkness and looking back we could see the dimly lit Tignes villages.
As the sun came up we had reached the rocky ridge and welcomed the ease of some flat-ish ground to cover before the scramble leading to the snowy ridge and the final rock ascent. Being late in the season most of the snow was melted so although we used ice axes we didn’t need our crampons.
Making good time we had a break around 7am, added a few layers and took in the views which were getting more impressive with every meter we climbed.
The final rocky section was trickier than I expected, it was icy and quite slippery. I’d been focusing on my feet and looked up to see the summit was close. Our route up was still in shade but as we reached the top at 8.44am the morning sun hit us and the incredible view over the Aosta Vally was breath taking.
In fact the entire view was breath taking and the moving cloud made it all the more dramatic. For a few minutes we had glimpses of Mont Blanc but within 20mins the entire summit was in cloud. We had been so lucky to have arrived before the cloud set in.
Kath and I were both in very high spirits on the way down, it was brutal on our knees but it was such a great feeling to have finally reached the top of Sassiere. We were back at the car before noon and by 1pm were drinking mugs of hot tea … Delighted!
Sassiere is 3,751m it’s a mountain in the Graian Alps on the boundary between the Aosta Valley and the French Savoie.