Caroline George is both a working guide and a working mom. As a fully certified IFMGA guide and part-time Chamonix resident, her seasons are still busy with the work of guiding in the heart of the French and Swiss Alps. Following a career path as an alpinist and guide yet also raising a family has added another layer of complexity and degree of difficulty to the process, but George’s efficiency and determination has, so far, enabled her to take both routes. The Eddie Bauer First Ascent guide checked in recently to report on her summer job guiding clients up the double of the Pointe de Tsalion and the Aiguille de la Tsa. This is her gallery of a day on the job.
Images and Captions by Caroline George
The west ridge of the Pointe de Tsalion, linked with the spectacular Matterhorn-shaped Aiguille de la Tsa, could be one of my favorite alpine guiding routes: you start from a really quaint privately owned hut, it offers beautiful climbing on mostly perfect rock, you get to summit two peaks in a day, and end up going down a completely different way than you climbed up via a beautiful glacier offering stunning views to the nearby 4000m peaks such as Dent Blanche, the Matterhorn and the Weisshorn. It is also the perfect route to guide two clients on, which is why I chose to take Floriane and Reem up this climb. We were blessed with perfect weather and temperatures the whole way.
The beautiful Herens cows. These cows take part in a famous cow fight each year. Scary walking by, then thinking that they are famous for being aggressive!
A speedy after-work hike to the hut from Arolla in the evening sun. Dinner is at 6.30 P.M. in Swiss huts, which have a reputation for being very timely.
The Tsa hut with a view on the west ridge (the spur that comes down from the summit just to the left of the most pointy summit) and on the Aiguille de la Tsa (the pointy summit).
Working mom Caroline George gearing up for the day’s climb at the bottom of the route.
Floriane and Reem on the first pitch.
Flo and Reem after the first crux of the day: a layback crack with not-so-good feet, making it a little challenging climbing with big boots.
More perfect rock.
Finally, a little sunshine.
The Matterhorn-shaped Aiguille de la Tsa. We will climb in from the backside.
Stunning view down the whole west ridge after climbing the crux of the route.
View of the famous Pigne d’Arolla.
View down the ridge as we are getting close to the summit. The hut is at the end of the obvious grassy moraine.
The last pitch is a little chosy, but what an ambiance down the west face.
Summit number one: Pointe de Tsalion.
The Aiguille de la Tsa from the south side.
Last pitch to the summit of the Aiguille de Tsa with a perfect hand crack on great rock.
Summit number two: Aiguille de la Tsa.
Second of four rappels to get back to our packs at the base of the face.
It ain’t over till it’s over below the Col de Bertol. An impressive rappel to get over the bergschrund and still a long ways to go to get back to our car in Arolla.
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