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First Ascent Guide Caroline George and Her Mother Climb Cosmiques Ridge
Posted on August 26, 2010

Caroline’s mother, Martine, is a pioneering female mountaineer and the first female to summit some of the world’s most difficult mountains. In this story, Caroline shares her experience climbing Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France, with her mother and reflects on the tradition of mountaineering in her family.

By Caroline George

As I was growing up, my family would travel the world to climb, and it is still with great pleasure that I go climbing with them. My mother, Martine, pushed the boundaries of climbing for women when she was younger. She climbed great classics such as the Gervasutti Pillar and the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey. She was the first female to ascend the Naranjo de Bulnes in Spain and climbed in Peru. She placed first in many ski and mountaineering competitions and is always excited to go on an adventure, but at 65 years young, her knees are giving her some trouble. I try to pick climbs that don’t involve much approach or descent.

We headed to the Cosmiques Ridge on the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France, recently. We rode the cable car nearly 10,000 feet up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi. There, the view stretched out to Mont Blanc and onward to Italy.

Hiking out of an ice cave, we made our way down the knife-edge snow ridge that dropped steeply down 3,500 feet to the north, and down to the Col du Midi on the other side. We contoured the base of the striking south face of Aiguille du Midi, which rose like a bright orange flame out of the glacier below, and headed west to the start of the ridge proper.

My mom was thrilled and blown away by the beauty of the scenery. We climbed up mixed terrain and spent time on snow and the reputable Chamonix granite. This ridge has been climbed and guided so often that locals have drilled holes in the rock to make it easier to climb with crampons.

We traversed a snow couloir, contoured gendarmes and made it to the crux of the route. This section is always a bottleneck, with people struggling up the 10-meter-high crux. My mom made quick work of the section and we climbed on, traversing into the north side of the ridge before reaching the summit.

My parents opened my eyes to climbing, and taking my mom on climbs now is not only a way for me to give back, but it is also very rewarding to take such an accomplished climber with me. She is my role model, and I am extremely grateful to be able to share this time with her doing what we both love.

Author: - Thursday, August 26th, 2010
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  1. Diana Lincoln-Haye

    Caroline,
    Great tribute to your Mom! How lucky are both of you to have such a wonderful experience.


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