The Mont Blanc Massif

Barry and I have been based from Saint Gervais les Bains the last three days. On Wednesday we climbed a seven pitch route at the excellent La Duchere near Les Contamines before travelling to the Rifugio Torino to overnight.

The view from the end of the Arete des Cosmiques.

Yesterday, we climbed Les Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m). We also tried to access Le Petit Flambeau traverse and the Aiguille de Toule but both were in terrible condition. Therefore, we dropped down to the Val Ferret and went multi pitch climbing at Mochet.

Today, we climbed the classic Arete des Cosmigues in good conditions.

Mont Blanc from the summit of Les Aiguilles Marbrees.

La Duchere

John and I spent the 18th July at La Duchere crag near Les Contamines. This excellent venue has routes up to six pitches in length and is super well maintained. The photo shows John finishing the classic, ‘Le Nain Jaune Attends’ (‘The Yellow Dwarf Waits’).

La Duchere

Paul, Hector and I have been out climbing on La Duchere crag near Les Contamines. This excellent crag is up to six pitches in height and has grades from F3 to F7B.

Hector and Paul climbing.

Hector and Paul climbing.

Climbing and Walking with Family and Friends

This week I am spending time with family and friends climbing and walking in the Saint Gervais and Les Contamines area of the Alps.

So far we have used the Les Contamines lift system to access the Refuge Nant Borant, rock climb at La Duchere and yesterday Iain and I climbed on the Eldoradomes. This multi pitch venue is accessed from the Refuge Tre-la-Tete (above Les Contamines) and would provide a great second day after a traverse of the Domes de Miage. The rock is perfect glaciated slabs of gneiss.

Iain on the Eldoradomes.

Iain on the Eldoradomes.

Big Days Out in Les Ecrins

Following a few hours rock climbing at La Duchere crag near Les Contamines last Sunday, Paul and I drove down to Les Ecrins on Monday morning to meet Tina, Scott, Steve and Duncan. We then made the long walk into the Refuge Adele Planchard. The walk begins near La Grave and is very scenic.

Our intention was to climb La Grande Ruine (3765m) on Tuesday morning, however a change in forecast prompted a change in plan. As the weather was forecast to deteriorate at 4am the next morning we opted to climb the peak after dinner. We managed to make the summit in difficult snow conditions before returning to the at 2am. We had a long lie the next morning until 8am before walking out and driving to Ailefroide to overnight.

On Wednesday we walked into the Refuge du Pelvoux before climbing Mont Pelvoux (3943m) on Thursday morning via the Coolidge Couloir. The route was in excellent condition and is best climbed at this time of year when the chance of stonefall is minimised by good snow cover. It is also worth having two axes for the couloir.

Following a short rest we made the 1800 metre hut climb to the Refuge de l’Aigle on Friday at 6.30am. This well named hut (the hut of the eagles) is in a simply stunning location and well worth the effort in getting there.

The approach to the hut involves significant amounts of scrambling, via ferrata and glacier work. It should not be made in poor weather or visibility.

On Saturday we climbed La Meije Oriental (3891m) in excellent conditions before returning to the valley and Saint Gervais for a great meal out in the village.

To see more images of this stunning area please visit the climbnow facebook page.

The team on the summit of Mont Pelvoux.

The team on the summit of Mont Pelvoux.

Paul climbing at La Duchere.

Paul climbing at La Duchere.

The Glacier de Tre la Tete Basin

For the past three days, Paul and I have been out in the Mont Blanc Massif. This time we accessed the mountains from Les Contamines. This area will appeal to those who like their mountains quieter and more unspoilt than the main massif. There are no cable cars meaning all the peaks require a sizeable effort.

Near the summit of the Aiguille de la Berangere.

Near the summit of the Aiguille de la Berangere.

On Wednesday, the weather was poor. Therefore, we used this day to complete the long walk to the Refuge des Conscrits. Rather than use the glacier approach as marked on the map we used the new footpath which traverses the hillside high on the north side of the glacier. The path is well equipped with fixed ropes and a large wire bridge. The weather was perfect on Thursday. We made the most of this by climbing the Aiguille de la Berangere (3425m) which can be seen from Saint Gervais where we are based. The mountain gives great views of the Vanoise and Mont Blanc. Conditions were excellent. On Thursday afternoon we descended to the Hotel Tre-la-Tete which is on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Following a very comfortable night here, we had a good day on Friday ice climbing on the Glacier Tre-la-Tete and practicing crevasse rescue.

More photos can be seen on the climbnow facebook page.

Paul descending from the Refuge des Conscrits.

Paul descending from the Refuge des Conscrits.

Alpine Summits and Cragging at Les Contamines

Paul and I are climbing together for a week in the Alps. We are staying in Saint Gervais which is a beautiful alpine town twenty minutes drive from Chamonix.

Yesterday, we travelled through the Mont Blanc Tunnnel to Italy and used the Punta Helbronner lift to quickly gain altitude. From here we climbed the Aiguille de Toule (3534m) before traversing Le Petit Flambeau (3440m) from La Vierge (an excellent PD+ mixed ridge). Conditions on both mountains were excellent.

Today, Paul and I climbed two good multi pitch routes at La Duchere near Les Contamines. These were; Ecole Junior and Les Trois Surplombs. We descended both routes by multi pitch abseils but it is also possible to walk down.

Paul near the summit of the Aiguille de Toule. the Dent de Geant is the obvious rock feature in the background.

Paul near the summit of the Aiguille de Toule. The Dent de Geant is the obvious rock feature in the background.

 

Rochers des Enclaves (2465m)

The team on the summit of the Rochers des Enclaves with the Mont Blanc Massif behind.

The team on the summit of the Rochers des Enclaves with the Mont Blanc Massif behind.

Today, the lads and I have Les Contamines. This brilliant ski area is also an excellent launch pad for a number of top class ski tours.

Currently the avalanche conditions in the Alps are serious. Therefore, we chose to ski the Rochers des Enclaves (2465m) as it allowed us to follow ridge type features and terrain less than 20 degrees. We did not start the tour from the top of the Buche Croisee ski lift as described in the guidebook but entered near the Chalet de la Croix to avoid the initial steep descent. This added one hour to the tour but massively increased safety.

The snow on the descent to Hauteluce via the Lac de La Girotte was in good condition above 1500 metres.

Colin on the ascent of the Rochers des Enclaves.

Colin on the ascent of the Rochers des Enclaves.

La Duchere, Les Contamines

Yesterday, on our last morning in France, Ivor and I visited the well developed crag of La Duchere near Les Contamines.

Ivor leading pitch 3

Ivor leading pitch 3

On a recommendation from Euan we climbed the delightful route of “Le Nain Jaune attend”. The route is nine pitches of well bolted, varied climbing on good quality gneiss.

Enjoying high quality gneiss on the crux pitch

Enjoying high quality gneiss on the crux pitch

Following the route, we walked back to Les Contamines on well marked paths, before meeting Euan for a last lunch in St Gervais and then heading back to the airport.

The final hanging belay

The final hanging belay

A very good final day to an excellent trip.

Ivor meeting the "Nain Jaune"

Ivor discussing the weather with the “Nain Jaune”

La Duchere

Lydia, Jo, Colin and I had a fun day out at La Duchere crag near Les Contamines. We climbed the classic multi pitch route, ‘Le Nain Jaune attend’ (translated as ‘The Yellow Dwarf waits’). The route is very well bolted with excellent belays and two possible escape routes making it a good introduction to multi pitch climbing.

Jo and Colin on 'Le Nain jaune attend'.

Jo and Colin on ‘Le Nain Jaune Attend’.

 

Lydia arriving at 'Le Nain Jaune'.

Lydia arriving at ‘Le Nain Jaune’.