Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges

Day 9: To the basecamp of Piton des Neiges

Short and tough ascent to the Refuge de la Caverne Dufour

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The next big challenge is the summit tour of Piton des Neiges, the highest mountain on the island and the Indian Ocean. Since, as you know by now, the sight is always best in the early morning hours, today we hike to the base camp, the Refuge de la Caverne Dufour, to climb the summit tomorrow at the break of dawn in the light of the headlamps.
Today we start quite differently with a walk on the road. From Cilaos we walk to the parking lot Le Bloc on the D 241 between Cilaos and Bras Sec (where you see the cars on the picture, for lazy people there is also a bus). Naturally, we do not start without fresh food, and so a crispy, good smelling baguette sticks out of the backpack. In case of need, to be able to leave a few bread crumbs for the relapsing photographer 😉 Already on the road it goes crisply uphill and at the parking lot we take a short break.

Just married!Just married!, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 63mm, 1/1250s, Blende 2.8, ISO 64
Anmarsch zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 28mm, 1/60s, Blende 11, ISO 125
Le Bloc (1.380 m), © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 2.8, ISO 160

The recovery only lasts a short time, because a few meters after the parking lot a long steep climb is waiting for us. A total of 3.5 hours is estimated for the tour. The path is very well constructed and winds its way uphill. Step by step by step … you know the story 😉

Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/80s, Blende 8, ISO 1400
Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 4, ISO 90
Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 70mm, 1/160s, Blende 2.8, ISO 80
Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/80s, Blende 8, ISO 1100

Time for a view down – we have already gained a good bit of altitude!
Blick auf CilaosBlick auf Cilaos, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 28mm, 1/80s, Blende 11, ISO 64
Even more steps! However, the tropical forest holds numerous fascinating plants, such as the already known bearded lichens on the branches, which inspire us anew. Like lametta they hang from the trees, they obviously feel well in this humid climate.
Aufstieg zum Piton des NeigesAufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/50s, Blende 11, ISO 160

Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/80s, Blende 8, ISO 1400
Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/80s, Blende 8, ISO 800
Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 35mm, 1/80s, Blende 8, ISO 450
Aufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 28mm, 1/60s, Blende 8, ISO 1600

The more we gain altitude, the more the vegetation changes, the tall trees are followed by low shrubs. The path becomes steeper again and leads to a saddle from which we have a good view of today’s destination. A few minutes later we have reached our accommodation at 2,400 m above sea level.

Aufstieg zum Piton des NeigesAufstieg zum Piton des Neiges, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 24mm, 1/50s, Blende 11, ISO 160
Refuge de la Caverne DufourRefuge de la Caverne Dufour, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 34mm, 1/200s, Blende 8, ISO 64
Elisabeth nach 1.200 m AufstiegElisabeth nach 1.200 m Aufstieg, © Markus Proske — NIKON Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, 50mm, 1/1000s, Blende 2.8, ISO 64

The 1200 meters of ascent were a bit exhausting, however, we arrived in time. We choose two beds in one of the 4 dormitories (with 12 beds each). Until dinner there is still a lot of time, which we spend reading. More and more hikers arrive at the cabin. The large common room is cool, impersonal, noisy and uncomfortable, but we make the best of it. I hesitate whether to make the ascent tomorrow. The ascent would not be the problem, but the descent of about 600 meters in altitude, especially since afterwards additional 900 meters in altitude descent are waiting. Will my knee (which has not caused any problems so far) manage 1500 meters of descent? I decide with a heavy heart against it and will have to be content with Markus’ photos.
After dinner we go to bed soon, a long day is waiting for us.
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