The time of finishing the writeup of my PhD thesis and preparing my private defense was quite packed. Besides some training hours, I hardly had any time to spare, in particular none for the mountains. Finally, the weekend before the defense, my inner urge to visit the beloved mountains became unbearable. However, still having to finish some final details on my defense presentation, I could only afford one day of time off. Thus, we were quite limited in time.
On top of this, it was already off-season and all the essential cable cars were shut down. Too cold temperatures for rock climbing but too warm for ice, plus no snow, made for a difficult choice of what to do. It was very handy to have a motivated friend that was very eager on climbing ice. Hence, the choice fell on the Aiguille de Chardonnet, in a day.
Planning is always easy at home sitting on a couch. However, having made the decision at 11pm we woke at 2am, drove to Le tour and made the hut approach. During a short break at the hut to change clothing, we unfortunately woke the handymen that were working on hut renovations. Getting kicked out immediately, we continued our approach to realize that the full route would be too time consuming. We hence opted for a detour that avoids the first few hundred meters of mixed terrain by climbing the first pitches of the Escarra gully. Then, joining up with the original route, we continued on a very nice ice streak to hit the final slopes and the summit in full sunlight with warm temperatures in the early afternoon.
A long descent back to the hut and down to the valley finally brought us home well after night had fallen. Thus, the trip served its purpose... to have a full enjoyable day out in the mountains and to clear my head for the upcoming exam.