With the excitement last night we almost missed breakfast but crept downstairs just in time to make the hotel owners sigh one more time. Today was to be our first day of walking so there was the inevitable gear faff as the group kit was shared out, items were checked and Andy and Cliona announced that they weren't walking with us. That's right readers, while this isn't the last we will hear from them it does mark a certain absence for a while. The plan would be for them to do a big day so that tonight they were in Champex, something which would take us until the following day. Then they would continue the same route but one day ahead until the end. This might have been a result of the gate crashing the night before or just because they felt life would be more romantic without Steve, Duncan and I chipping in every step of the way - both of which carry some weight. The consequence of this decision was some last minute training for Andy on crevasse rescue on the bed of the hotel and Cliona loading up Andy's rucsac with all the gear, including a few magazines just in case his knees weren't feeling the strain already.
Packed and trained we set off. We took a train and then a bus to get to the start of the route and said goodbye to Andy and Cliona and started the days job of marching up to the first hut. We had plenty to talk about as we tried to work out whether the other two would in fact make their target before nightfall. At this point we weren't convinced that they might not have over stretched but on the whole we concentrated on our relatively easy day walking up a grassy valley to the edge of a glacier. At the hut we had a spot of food and walked up a bit further to spot our route across the glacier for the next morning. As we were sitting on a rock surveying the possible options up the glacier with the sun going down in the background Steve summed up some of his personal philosophies on sex 'I'm the gift that just keeps on giving'. With this bold declaration done we heading back to the hut for a beer and finally to head to bed. So we had obviously forgotten the routine of Alpine climbing, that of getting up at 3am and going to bed at 7pm. By the time we turned in the dorm room was full of band saw impersonators. We tried to settle in as best we could but clearly the lack of ear plugs was a school boy error. Overnight it was colder then expected, a problem that Steve tried to solve in his sleep by pulling at the blanket of the woman sleeping next to him. I imagine this age old bit of interplay between the sexes ended up with the normal kick, grunt and liberated blanket back where it belonged.