Sunday, September 30, 2012

Working around variable weather

Nick Graham returned to climb with me after a two year break. We started our week together by climbing the Voie Caline. The slightly harder but shorter version of the now very well known route the Via Corda.

This was an ideal warm up and the day after we climbed the Cosmique Arete one of Chamonix's most famous and well travelled climbs. Late September was an ideal time to tackle this route because it wasn't mobbed by loads of other climbers.

On our third day we traveled through the Mt Blanc Tunnnel and then took the Helbronner cable car and climbed the Aiguilles Marbree. The approach was tricky because the summers hot weather had opened up some huge crevasses with some very thin snow bridges. I was very cautious but the 50 school children who passed us [on an outing from Paris] did not seem phased a tall.

The next day it rained and drizzled all day so we spent the day revising techniques for big multiple rappels and systems for crevasse self rescue. All stuff which is important but often does not get covered properly.

Our plan was to finish the week by climbing Mt Blanc du Tacul which would have been Nick's first 4000 meter peak. However when we arrived at the summit of the Aiguille du Midi two things made it obvious that this was not going to happen. Firstly there was no track in up the mountain and two there were very strong winds indicating that there was a significant avalanche risk. We therefore contented ourselves by climbing Point Lachanel where we were entertained by ENSA who were camped on the summit while testing belay strengths by chucking barrels of concrete down the slope and seeing if the rope snapped or the ice screws ripped out.

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