Les Ecrins and Les Aiguilles Rouges

Pam and I have just had an excellent four days climbing and mountaineering. On Tuesday we met in Chamonix and drove to La Berarde in Les Ecrins. We had a fun afternoon’s rock climbing on the Grande Rochaille before completing the walk to the Refuge du Soreiller.

The next day we climbed the South Face of the Aiguille Dibona (3130m) by linking up the Voie Madier, Diedre Couche and the Cannelures Stofer cracks to make a brilliant outing at TD. We used the North Ridge for descent.

Pam on the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

Pam on the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

 

Pam on the descent of the North Ridge of the Aiguille Dibona (summit in the background).

Pam on the descent of the North Ridge of the Aiguille Dibona (summit in the background).

Yesterday, we climbed ‘Voie du Nain’ (AD-) which gives access to the Breche de Clochetons (3048m). We continued our day by climbing the brilliant South Ridge of the Aiguille Centrale du Soreiller (3348m). This ridge climb is given PD. It is worth noting that it is ‘Les Ecrins’ PD and would receive a harder grade in other areas. Rock shoes are advised.

Pam at the Breche de Clochetons.

Pam at the Breche de Clochetons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pam climbing on the Aiguille Centrale de Soreiller with the Dibona in the background.

Pam climbing on the Aiguille Centrale de Soreiller with the Dibona in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drove to Saint Gervais yesterday evening before climbing in Les Aiguilles Rouges today. The weather was excellent and we had a fun day out climbing Eperon Sublime and Anthina on the Grande Floria.

It has been a great four days in the mountains with perfect weather and around 1250 metres of rock climbing completed.

 

Photo from Allalinhorn

The summit ridge of the Allalinhorn.

The summit ridge of the Allalinhorn.

Thanks to Juho Lukkari for this excellent shot of Danny and I on the summit ridge of the Allalinhorn (4027m) on the 15/08/13. The photo is taken on the summit ridge following our ascent of the Hohlubgrat.

Pentland Run

Nettle and I managed a few hours out running in the Pentlands this afternoon. These hills are a great resource to have close to Edinburgh.

Myself and Nettle on the Pentland Skyline: Photo courtesy of J.Foden.

Myself and Nettle on the Pentland Skyline: Photo courtesy of J.Foden.

We started from Threipmuir reservoir and took in The Kips, South Black Hill, Scald Law, Carnethy Hill and Turnhouse Hill before heading back across to the reservoir. Weather was warm and dry with all the paths being pretty good under foot. I’ve not been out running for a while and it was definitely hard work today.

Gran Paradiso

The team and I travellled through the Mont Blanc Tunnel on Thursday to Pont in Italy. From here we made the ascent to the Vittorio Emanuele II Hut. This very friendly hut is located at 2735m, serves good food and gives access to the highest mountain located entirely in Italy, the Gran Paradiso (4061m).

The Vittorio Emanuele II Hut just before sunset.

The Vittorio Emanuele II Hut just before sunset.

Yesterday, following a 4am breakfast, we had a great day out climbing the Gran Paradiso. Conditions on the mountain are still currently very good. We visited the ‘Madonna’ summit of the mountain and also the cairned summit further along the ridge. The ridge between the two summits gives pleasent rock scrambling. From the summit there is excellent views of the Mont Blanc Massif, the Zermatt peaks and the summits of the Vanoise.

The 'Madonna' summit of the Gran Paradiso.

The ‘Madonna’ summit of the Gran Paradiso.

Old Man of Stoer, Sheigra, Reiff and Assynt, Sutherland and Coigach Hills

I’m just back from an excellent three day trip to North West Scotland with Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors, where we were based in the Inchnadamph Lodge Hostel. There was a climbing team of myself, John, Clare, Gayle, Jim and Linda and a walking team with Craig of Lorne, Mary, Morag, Sarah and Tom.

The Tyrolean to the South-East Arete

The Tyrolean to the South-East Arete

On Monday the walkers headed for a windy ascent of Conival and Ben More Assynt and the climbing team made for the iconic sea stack of the Old Man of Stoer. After carefully descending the cliff, where we used a rope to protect the worst section, John did the swim and we rigged a Tyrolean Traverse to the South-East arete of the stack. Rigging to this corner gives a higher Tyrolean and avoids the initial traverse pitch of the Original Route. As it was high spring tides and there was a significant swell the higher Tyrolean was much appreciated.

The team on the first belay

On the first belay

Despite the intimidating conditions of a fairly stiff wind and one shower the team topped out on the Old Man of Stoer. I’ve previously done this stack with the Tyrolean to the North-East arete and this gives a pretty clean abseil straight back to the Tyrolean. The downside of the higher Tyrolean we used on Monday was that the abseil to your starting point is much less clean and with the wind twisting the ropes we had difficulty pulling them. After some re-ascending to redirect the ropes and eventually with a pull from the top of the cliff we retrieved them, but it did make for a late finish. If abseiling the South-East arete, particularly on a windy day, it’s probably worth doing it in multiple abseils to limit potential problems with pulling the ropes.

Jim near the bottom of the abseil

Jim near the bottom of the abseil

On Tuesday the walking team did the long South to North traverse of Foinaven, which they completed in admirably quick time. There was fairly heavy rain early in the day, so the climbing team opted for some coasteering/sea level traversing either side of the beautiful beach of Sheigra in the morning. This allowed the crags to dry up a little and in the afternoon we climbed a couple of routes, Dimples and Mum’s the Word, on the tidal island of Na Stacain before making a speedy retreat up the damp but excellent Diff chimney/rib of Squeeze to Please.

Gayle and Clare in a boulder passage

Gayle and Clare in a boulder passage

Linda and Clare traversing low above the sea

Linda and Clare traversing low above the sea

On Wednesday Craig and the walkers headed for Sgurr an Fhidhleir and Ben More Coigach, where they got superb views. There were showers again in the morning, but these cleared and the climbers had a few hours at the Pinnacle Area of Reiff. Reiff has a huge number of superb short routes on good rock with stunning views and the team enjoyed the more relaxed nature of the venue after the previous two days. The venue meant John and I could rig/climb lots of routes including Midreiff, Fly by Wire, Westering Home, Pop-out, Puckered Wall, Xyles and Channering Worm.

Clare on Channering Worm

Clare on Channering Worm

We finished the trip with a mass ascent of Moon Jelly to the top of the Pinnacle; an appropiate way to end a very good three days.

The team on the Pinnacle

The team on the Pinnacle

End of a great trip

End of a great trip

Summits in the Chamonix area

For the past few days I have been climbing summits in the Mont Blanc Massif and Les Aiguilles Rouges with two Alpinists. On Sunday we ascended to the Albert Premier Hut before completing an Ecole de Glace session on the Glacier du Tour. The weather on Monday was very poor with fresh snow but we still had a good day out traversing the Col Sup. du Tour and the Plateau du Trient to the Cabane du Trient.

The Plateau du Trient early on the 20/08/13.

The Plateau du Trient early on the 20/08/13.

For the time of year, the Plateau du Trient was in excellent condition with very good snow cover.

Yesterday, we had a big day climbing three summits; Aiguille du Tour (3542m), Petite Fourche (3520m) and Tete Blanche (3429m). The bergshrund on Aiguille du Tour is large and requires care. The conditions on the other two peaks were good.

Teams crossing the bergshrund on Aiguille du Tour.

Teams crossing the bergshrund on Aiguille du Tour.

Today we traversed Les Aiguilles Crochues (2840m). The route was quiet with no queues.

A team climbing on Les Aiguilles Crochues.

A team climbing on Les Aiguilles Crochues.

Les Aiguilles Crochues

Danny and I finished our six days together today by traversing Les Aiguilles Crochues (2840m). This ridge traverse is accessed from L’Index chairlift in Les Aiguilles Rouges.

Mont Blanc from the approach to Les Aiguilles Crochues.

Mont Blanc from the approach to Les Aiguilles Crochues.

The ridge is climbed on excellent rock and good spikes are available for belaying and to allow moving together.

A team enjoying the excellent rock scrambling.

A team enjoying the excellent rock scrambling.

 

The return to the lift station is made via Lac Blanc. There is a Refuge next to the lake which provides a great place to stop for a coffee break.

Danny returning to L'Index chairlft with Les Drus and the Aiguille Verte in the distance.

Danny returning to L’Index chairlft with Les Drus and the Aiguille Verte in the distance.

 

North Berwick Law

A day of sunshine in East Lothian meant Ivor and I headed out to North Berwick Law for some sport climbing. Ivor has a project here, which he’s very close to getting clean, and I tried a couple of things I hadn’t done before as well as the usual warm ups.

Ivor just about to strip Necktie, having rethreaded

Ivor just about to strip Necktie, having rethreaded

One of the routes I tried today is the un-named route left of Necktie, which the 7a Max guidebook suggests is 6a. The climbing is quite good, but it’s a bushwhack to get to and the moves to the first bolt felt considerably harder than 6a, unless I was missing something. We ended up improvising a clipstick to clip the first bolt as the prospect of falling onto a gorse and dog rose covered ledge wasn’t too appealing. Nice climbing, but it might be worth coming in from above to allow clipping the first bolt or taking secateurs and a clipstick if you’re going to give this one a try.

Allalinhorn’s Hohlaubgrat

Yesterday, Danny and I walked from the Plattjen lift above Saas Fee to the Britannia Hut. Although this appraoch is longer than the approach from the Felskinn lift station it is highly recommended as it is much more beautiful.

Today we climbed the Hohlaubgrat on the Allalinhorn (4027m). This stunning ridge is accessed from the Hohlaub Glacier.

Approaching the Hohlaubgrat early in the morning.

Approaching the Hohlaubgrat early in the morning.

The route begins with a broad ridge that narrows near the top before culminating in a rock band which must be climbed. It is PD+ and I would highly recommend it to those who climb at this standard. Unfortunately, the cold got to my battery and I do not have any photos of the route currently.

The Allalinhorn earlier today. The Hohlaubgrat is the left hand skyline.

The Allalinhorn earlier today. The Hohlaubgrat is the left hand skyline.

The route was in perfect condition. We descended via the very popular West-North-West Ridge.

 

 

Innaccessible Pinnacle and Sgurr Mhiccoinnich

Keith and I are just back from a quick visit up to Skye having headed up late yesterday and out on the hill today. The forecast was for rain and strengthening winds later in the day so we had an early start and approached Sgurr Dearg from Glenn Brittle via Bealach Coire na Banachdaich. We then ascended the Innaccessible Pinnacle with Keith climbing it via the West Ridge, the harder short side.

Keith climbing the West Ridge of the Inn Pinn

Keith climbing the West Ridge of the Inn Pinn

After a quick bite we descended the South East Flank route of Sgurr Dearg to reach Bealach Coire Lagan and then headed up the long North Ridge of Sgurr Mhiccoinnich. We reversed the North Ridge to the near the bealach before descending the An Stac Screes and out via Coire Lagan.

Keith happy near the top of the Inn Pinn

Keith happy near the top of the Inn Pinn

Despite the fact the rain didn’t arrive until we were walking out the ridge was in cloud all day and the rock was wet. Care is required in these conditions particularly when moving from the good friction of the gabbro onto the much slippier basalt. In these sort of cloudy conditions on the ridge route finding can be very tricky and prior knowledge is definitely helpful. It was raining very heavily as we left.

The initial steep steps of Sgurr Mhiccoinich in the background

The initial steep steps of Sgurr Mhiccoinich in the background

Keith was particularly happy to summit both these hills today as he’s now completed all the Skye Munros.

Keith at the summit of Sgurr Mhiccoinnich

Keith at the summit of Sgurr Mhiccoinnich