Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Climbs New Areas

One thing I love more than anything is exploring new climbs and going to new areas. This is exactly what Peter Little and I did last week. There is a new [ish ] crag up above Champex just over in Switzerland where we climbed two routes created by the well known Verbier Guide Olivier Roduit. The first was the reasonably hard Luc 6a+. The second was the much easier but no less impressive L'Eperon du Dard. This is long rock climb the winds itself up a long spur through spectacular scenary.
Other notable routes we climbed were in the Val Ferret where we climbed the route Genepi. This was a huge slab on perfect granit. What was also great about the week was that we only saw one other set of climbers.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dry Glaciers Big Holes

The weather has been exceptionally good for a long period of time. The down side of this is that the glaciers are very icy and there are some enormous crevasses where I have never seen them before.
Robin Tarling and I have just spent four days climbing together. We started by climbing a rock route on the Brevent.
The next day we drove through the Mt Blanc Tunnel and took the cable car up to 3300 meters. We traversered the spectacular Aiguille de Entreves. We then slept the night at the Torino Refuge so that we could get an early start [4.30am] for the Aiguille du Rochfort.

This is where we encountered the huge crevasses - holes big enough to lose a house down. once we had negociated the glacier we found the ridge in very good condition and not a breath of wind.
To day we had an easier day rock climbing above Argentiere at Chezery where we finished with the Aiguillette d'Argentiere

Monday, September 07, 2009

Autumn Blasts

Charles Sherwood and I finished our week together by climbing the arrete du Doigt on Pt Percee. This was not our first plan but as the weather changed and it had snowed over night our we were left with little choice. This was a climb of two sides the south side bathed in sunshine the north side plastered in ice which made the rock climbing difficult/ impossible.

South Face of the Dibona 3130meters

One of the Ecrins best and spectacular rock climbs a must for any keen alpinist visiting the area.
As you walk up to the Soreiller hut below the peak you suddenly walk around the corner and there it is right above you. Charles and I climbed the classic south face route with its amazing tunnel pitch.

Fissure de Ailefroid and beer

After the Barres des Ecrins we needed an easier day, so after a relaxed breakfast we headed across the valley to climb the classic climb of Ailefoid. This is a huge gash in te massive cliff that dominates the village. It is quite unique for a French climb in that has very little bolted protection and you need to carry a full rack of gear.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Barres des Ecrins 4120 meters

The alarm went off at a grim 3.30am. After a quick breakfast we were out of the hut door at 4.00am. We scrambled down the scratchy path and on to the glacier. We strapped on our crampons roped up and set off. We immediately lost the path because all the snow had melted and we were left with glacier ice to follow around a maze of crevasses. Nevertheless we plodded in the right direction until we picked up the path in the snow higher up. After about an hour and a half the climb became a lot steeper and then came to sudden stop. Our progress halted by a monster crevasse. It was not simple to jump over it on the crevasse from the down hill side.
We continued until we arrived at the Dome des Ecrins where everyone else from the hut that morning was going. We turned our attention to the true Summit the Barres its- self. The climb moves from snow to a wonderful rocky scramble where we reached the top in about an hour from the col. We sat around on the top for about 20 minutes contemplating the knee smashing descent of 2300 vertical meters back to the car.

Charging the battery

Charles Sherwood and I headed down to the Ecrins for a change of scene. Our big plan was to climb the Barres des Ecrins. On our first day we walked up to the Glacier Blanc hut inorder to gain some acclimatisation. On our second day we plodded up to the Ecrins Hut. We arrived quite early in the day. On top of the flat top roof there was an exercise bike. Charles asked the guardian if he might have a go on the bike. She said of course and rushed up to the roof terrace where she plugged the bike into a battery!
Charles then diligently pedaled away for 45 minutes. Not a bad effort at 3100 meters

Father and Daughter climbing

Charles and Tabatha joined me for tow days alpine rock climbing before they embarked on their weeks paragliding course.
Tabatha had never climbed multi pitch alpine rock climbs before. So we headed up La Flegere where we climbed the Nez Rouge. A not too difficult rock climb which is a perfect introduction to alpine rock climbing. The only down side was that the mist came in restricting the fabulous view.
Nevertheless the next day we headed up Le Brevent where the view was crystal clear. We climbed the very mellow Micky et Moussia.