Monday, January 17, 2011

Back in Cham. Aguille Verte solo and some etc.

Last Saturday saw me back in Chamonix. It's been warm and generally nasty here for a week or so, but on Friday things changed and a sustained 4 days or more of high pressure showed up. As I have no real work on the cards until next week I managed to snatch a bit of climbing.
       Firstly myself and Ally Swinton went for a burn on the Frendo-Ravanel, an easy 400 metre goulotte on the Grand Montet ridge of the Verte. It's a great route, very popular and easy going throughout. We broke a fair trail all the way to the top but were on the ridge admiring the Dru within two hours of leaving the schrund.
       The leisurely ski back to town wasn't quite as leisurely as usual as i had completely forgotten how to ski my fat skis in my climbing boots!
The fun little winter routes on the Grand Montet ridge.

Yesterday Jon Griffith and myself had something interesting planned up off the midi, but when we turned up for first lift we were informed in a typical Compagnie Du Mont Blanc way that there was a mechanical error, (i.e. someone had slept in) and they were running an hour late. So we salvaged the morning by shooting up to Grand Montet and doing "Happy House", one of the Bullock routes from 2009 in "Secteur Ecosse". This was one of the only ones we hadn't done and featured some really nice moves (but also some big loose stuff!). They gave it VII 7,which is probably fairish, but its always hard to tell when you'r mainly dry tooling rather than Scottish weirdness. Interestingly Jeff Mercier- ice world cup champion and general machine- has been very busy around the corner adding a lot of real hard looking stuff to the sector. This is cool as he seems to be continuing the excellent scottish ethic in which Pete and Nick followed when they first started working on the area, i.e. ground up and all trad. Judging by photo's and the standard at which Jeff and Korra Pesce and co. climb, i wouldn't be surprised if most of these new things were scot 9 and above.
Happy House VII 7

"Happy House"
Today i headed up on my own and soloed the Aguille Verte via the Couturier Couloir, a classic 1000 metre winter outing on the north east face. I did it from first lift and was on top 2 hours 40 mins after starting. Its in great nick right now, but for some reason i was tempted out on to the "Callotte" which forms the right hand arete for the last 200 metres, which turned out to be a stupid error as i took some time negotiating some nasty slots just beneath the summit. It was great to lounge on maybe Chamonix's best summit in solitude before i started the monotonous downclimb of the same route. I made three abalakov raps on the top icy section then downclimbed maybe 800 metres of couloir. I carried a 60 metre 7.7, a 60 metre 4mill tagline and a couple screws.
      An unforseen sting in the tail occured when after i'd finished the descent and was on the glacier, i clipped in to my Hagan 130 approach ski's, and made one turn after which one binding released and the ski rocketed down the glacier straight in to a deep crevasse. I then had to do the usually enjoyable 2000 metre ski descent to Argentiere on foot, not fun.......
The following photos were taken on my phone, which is a hand down from my mum so not some fancy thing that does HD or owt.

Standard solo shot. Breaking a trail in the upper part of the couloir.

Summit. January is cold, especially at 4200 metres.

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