“Dress for Chilli Conditions!” said the 2016 PHAT Challenge invitation. The ninth PHAT Challenge was going up the Glacier in Italy and back down the Vallee Blanche to Chamonix, France.
Six of the Alps’ phinest Mountain Guides (arranged by Stu MacDonald Mountaineering) met a whopping thirty PHAT challengees for an expresso and a plan-of-action. There was talk of Toula Glacier descents…weather permitting, but firstly the PHATs were simply put through their paces all over the incredible off-piste terrain of Courmayeur.
Elevenses drew the PHATs up the new Funivie Monte Bianca for more coffee, chocalado and cake at Bistrot des Glacier, where they compared tales of the terrain and prepared for the second part of the day… a guided tour of the Vallee Blanche to Chamonix.
The’bandit’ PHATs intrepidly attempted the Toula, the wiser ones got going down the beautiful icy world of wonder. The Vallee Blanche provided lush snow and spectacular views, made better by the packed lunch eaten along the way. As they made their way back up the cliffs to Montenvers funicular train, the PHATs agreed the conditions had been chilly but beautiful. What other “chilli conditions” awaited ???
Hopping off the Montenvers train in the charming town of Chamonix Mont Blanc, everything started turning a little surreal. A painted Polish skeleton called Wiktoria gathered the PHATs from the quaint French streets and guided them past an old stony church, through a churchyard to … a Mexican Phiesta! It was the PHAT Challenge Day of the Dead. Lotta, the Skeleton Skandi, served up phenomenal Mexican cocktails and the PHAT faces were painted in true phiesta fashion. Tequila fuelled Mexicans started emerging from the little church building and suddenly the Chamonix streets were amok with PHAT deadies.
Lovely Leila and her amigos awaited the deadly crowd in her dark bar, the (sophisticatedly sumptuous) Social Club. PHantastic margaritas, tequilas and Mexican beers fuelled the PHATs to full on PHIESTAAAA!! Dancing the apres ski hours away, their twirling shenanigans were interrupted only by a little Mexican van which drove down the cobbled Rue de Moulin to serve up tacos unlimited, followed by a PHlaming chilli chocolate brownie dessert laced with lashings of tequila on fire.
The night was only just starting… but the fiesta was full PHlow. … As the PHAT bandits tequila-wormed their way down Chamonix’s river path and day of the dead graffiti’d backstreets to the MBC (Micro Brasserie Chamonix) a little local brewery where a few barrels of “PHATarriba Beer” awaited, specially crafted for the PHAT Challenge. As the PHAT amigos entered the MBC, a PHiddle and a guitar started strumming the country riffs of PHiring live music. Country band, “That Dog Will Hunt” made it their mission to get the Mexicans back dancing, while piñatas were popping and PHATarriba pints were pouring.
By the time (most of) the PHading and PHlailing Mexicans made it the bus bound back to Courmayeur, Italy, lots of cash was earned that nePHarious night and daring day, all in aid of the charity Prostate Scotland.
The PHAT 2016 Prizes
Michael Kellie – for leading his team to the edge of the glacier …
Lloyd Garvie – for properly embracing the PHAT this year
Colin Finlayson – for falling over his PHAT feet
Andrew Chalmers – for PHAT boot phaffing
Clovis Fletcher – for being lost without his General
Pete Lowrie – for finally manning up to the PHAT Challenge!
The PHAT 2016 Sponsors