At 11pm Sophie turns to me and, with a look that is hard to say no to, says ‘Can we get up for sunrise and go swim in Lake Passy?’. I pause for a second too long and so she presses on, ‘We can take the kettlebells and have a proper training session down there…?’. It’s hard to say no to Sophie at the best of times but a 5am wake up call for a cold swim should be easy to refuse. As she topped up my glass of whiskey, my judgement got the better of me and I agreed to this very Sophie idea.

Dawn in Chamonix

5am is very early if you're not climbing

5am is very early if you’re not climbing

The mountains and scenery around Chamonix are stunning but it is at dawn that they are truly magical, it is the time when only the alpinists and late night revellers are awake, heading in opposite directions for the most opposite of objectives. Oh, and Sophie and I, going for a swim. As we drove down the valley to Sallanches and the lake, I wasn’t in the peachiest of moods as that last whiskey that convinced me of this plan also was one too many for my fragile constitution.

We pulled into the parking area and my mood started to lift. The water on the lake was completely still, creating a perfect reflection of the inspiring Royal Traverse of Mont Blanc; the Domes des Miage, Aiguille du Bionnassay, and Mont Blanc. I was envious of those already several hours into their climbs up high.

I’m currently training to become a certified kettlebell instructor and have a relatively strict training plan. I’m not really up to the weights the others are sharing in the training group on Facebook but I’m hoping I’ve still got time before the November test. So I found a training frame to use for my kettlebell session and, as Sophie set off on a run around the lake, I started to warm up.

Kettlebell training at Lake Passy

Clean & Press with Pull Ups ladders

Clean & Press with Pull Ups ladders

After a warm up I set to work on my heavy training session of the week: four sets of Clean and Press ladders with Pull Ups in between from one up to five making each set a total of 15 cleans and presses each side and 15 pull ups. I feel like I am making good progress with my training and am now able to use a 24kg kettlebell for this routine however I know I’ve got a long way to go and need to work hard to make the grade.

Sophie running by the lake

Sophie running by the lake

During my sets, Sophie passes by, offering encouragement, taking a few photos, and telling me how a bunch of drunk French guys were still going strong the other end of the lake. Though really struggling by the fourth set, the scenery made all the difference and pulled me through. As I finished off my last set, Sophie came back round and, with a massive smile said ‘Time to swim in the lake now!’.

Going for a swim in Lake Passy at Dawn

Sophie in the lake

Sophie in the lake

As we headed over to the lake, the sun was fully rising over the mountains and looked stunning. The day was going to be a beautiful day and we were here for the best bit.

As Sophie will attest, I’m not the most macho of outdoor swimmers and often get scared off by the cold but, after a hard training session, the water was very inviting.

Me braving the not-so-cold water in the lake

Me braving the not-so-cold water in the lake

I approached the water, everything was so still, and you could see the fish darting around. As I put my foot into the water I was shocked to discover that it was actually warm! A few more steps and we both dived in and enjoyed cooling off in the lake, totally alone and at peace.

Time for breakfast

Time for breakfast

Not one to give up a small advantage, once we left the water it was time for breakfast and Sophie owed me. We headed back into Chamonix and, with the town waking up, headed over to one of our favourite places, Aux Petits Gourmands, a very fancy cafe in town that does the most amazing cakes and pastries. Oh the chocolate spread is so good! After a hearty breakfast and very large coffee we were done. It was 9am and we were still able to look forward to the whole day.

Breakfast

Breakfast

What a way to start the day!

by Charley Radcliffe

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