Chasing the Sun with George and Paul

The weather was a little mixed last week in the Alps. However, by being flexible in our plans, George, Paul and I had a brilliant week climbing amazing mountains away from the crowds.

We began our week by visting the Vanoise. This is one of my favourite alpine regions as it is far from the crowds and very unspoilt once away from the ski lifts on the edge of the region. From thr Refuge Col de la Vanoise we completed the brilliant traverse of Mont Pelve (3261m). Details of this AD- route can be found on the website camptocamp.

As we completed the route late season, ice screws were required to climb over the bergshrund and a 60 metre rope was required for the abseils (unlike the 50 metres suggested by camptocamp).

The next day after returning to Saint Gervais les Bains we completed Aiguille de Toule (3538m) from the Punta Helbronner which is located on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif. The conditions were very Scottish e.g. whiteout and deep fresh snow. Needless to say, we did not see any other climbers!

For the last three days of our trip we travelled to Les Ecrins. This is another of my favourite areas in the Alps and it was great to return here to finish the last part of my alpine season.

Following walking in to the Refuge du Soreiller on Wednesday, we had a late start on Thursday to allow the weather to clear before completing Le Voie du Nain and Aiguille Centrale du Soreiller (3338m). This is an excellent rock peak situated behind the iconic Aiguille Dibona which is rarely visited.

On Saturday to finish off our trip we climed the Voie Boell with the Stoffer variation to the summit of the Aiguille DIbona (3130m). This was a great route on a great summit to end another excellent summer in the Alps.

Many more photos can be seen on the climbnow facebook page.

George and Paul near the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

George and Paul near the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

Argentiere Basin, the Aiguilles Rouge and Les Ecrins

Paul and Frank are just back from Les Ecrins where they had a great time climbing the Aiguille Dibona (3130m). They bivouacked before their ascent as the hut is currently being renovated and a little bit dusty! As usual the Dibona provided amazing climbing in a stunning setting.

Rob, Andy and I have had two brilliant days in the Mont Blanc Massif followed by a great day in Les Aiguilles Rouge. On Saturday we climbed above the clouds on the Petite Aiguille Verte (3512m) in perfect conditions before descending to the Refuge d’Argentiere to overnight.

We left the hut on Sunday morning in falling snow before emerging from the clouds into the sunshine to climb Pointe sup des Amethystes (3586m). A few notes on this mountain. Firstly, two axes are useful (the lads had two, I had one!). Secondly, two 60 metre ropes are very useful. I had one and therefore had to build anchors on wires and an abalakov thread to get back down.

Today we traversed the Aiguille Crochues (2837m). This is a really enjoyable route and great for practising moving together on.

Many more photos can be found on the facebook page.

The summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

The summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

Rob and Andy on the summit of the Petite Aiguille Verte with Les Drus behind

Rob and Andy on the summit of the Petite Aiguille Verte with Les Drus behind

Pointes de Burlan

The weather has continued to be perfect in Les Ecrins. Martin, Ivor and I have made the most of this by travelling from Ailefroide to La Berarde. From here, on Tuesday, we made the steep walk to the Refuge du Soreiller.

Martin carbo-loading before the hut walk.

Martin carbo-loading before the hut walk.

This hut gives access to a number of amazing granite summits including; Aiguille Dibona, Aiguille Centrale de Soreiller and Tete du Rouget.

The Aiguille Dibona (3130m).

The Aiguille Dibona (3130m).

We decided to climb the Pointes de Burlan (3299m) via Le Voie Muriabelle (D+,V+). The route gives excellent varied climbing on red granite.

Ivor enjoying steep granite in Les Ecrins.

Ivor enjoying steep granite in Les Ecrins.

The descent can be made either via abseil or a long scrambling ridge. We opted to abseil. Care should be taken with this to avoid the ropes jamming.

Ivor on the descent of the Pointes de Burlan.

Ivor on the descent of the Pointes de Burlan.

 

 

 

 

 

It is worth noting an important mistake in the guidebook. It suggests the route can be climbed on a 30 metre rope. This is incorrect. At least two of the pitches are 45 metres in length. To abseil the route, two 50 metre ropes are required. The route has lots of bolts on the harder sections. On the easier sections, the bolting is sparse and some teams may choose to carry a few wires and a couple of cam’s.

 

Ivor and Martin with the Pointes de Burlan (3299m) behind.

Ivor and Martin with the Pointes de Burlan (3299m) behind.

 

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.

 

Another Great Week in Les Ecrins

Being investigated by a Marmotte on the approach to the Glacier Blanc Hut.

Being investigated by a Marmotte on the approach to the Glacier Blanc Hut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have just returned from another brilliant week in Les Ecrins. TIna, Scott, Duncan, Steve, Tim and I spent six days climbing out of the Ailefroide and La Berarde valleys. On five of the six days the weather was perfect.

On Monday after some rock climbing in the valley we walked into the Glacier Blanc Hut from where on the Tuesday morning we climbed Les Agneaux (3664m). The mountain was in excellent condition. The French guidebook grades the Voie Normale at AD- while the British guidebook grades the route PD. I know which one I would believe!

After some lunch we continued to the Refuge des Ecrins to overnight.

Tim doing a 'jig' on Les Agneaux with Pelvoux behind.

Tim doing a ‘jig’ on Les Agneaux with Pelvoux behind.

Unfortunately, the weather was poor on Wednesday morning (warm and wet). There is still a risk of full depth avalanches in Les Ecrins at the moment so we opted to descend to the valley and relocate to La Berarde.

At 5am on Thursday morning we left our vehicles and climbed the Aiguille Dibona (3131m). Crampons and ice axe are currently advised at the moment as there is still a lot of snow present on the approach and descent from the mountain. The rock was perfectly dry.

Steve and Duncan at the hut having climbed the Dibona (behind).

Steve and Duncan at the hut having climbed the Dibona (behind).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again on Friday morning the weather was perfect giving us the chance to do some more rock climbing. In the afternoon we walked into Temple  Ecrins Hut. The food at this hut was excellent and the Guardian is very helpful and friendly. After speaking to him we discovered the Voie Normale on Pic Coolidge was not in condition. However, the Voie Originale was in condition. We climbed this route the next morning.

The Voie Originale climbs a steep snow gully at 45 to 50 degrees. The anchors in the gully are not all perfect. Those climbing the route should be able to create a buried axe anchor and it is worth remembering what you go up you must come down!

The team having a break after the couloir on Pic Coolidge Voie Originale.

The team having a break after the couloir on Pic Coolidge Voie Originale.

 

We made the summit of Pic Coolidge (3775m) at 9.30am and had brilliant views all around and out to the Mont Blanc Massif.

Pic Coolidge is a brilliant mountain with interesting, varied routes and provided a great finish to our week.

Tina and Scott near the summit of Pic Coolidge with the Barre des Ecrins behind.

Tina and Scott near the summit of Pic Coolidge with the Barre des Ecrins behind.