Les Ecrins and the Mont Blanc Massif

The start of this week in the Alps brought snow and even avalanche warnings being issued in the Mont Blanc Massif. Therefore, after climbing the Aiguille de la Charlanon, Rob, Andy, Mike and I escaped to Les Ecrins for a couple of days.

On Monday we walked to the Refuge de la Pilatte before traversing Mont Gioberney via the North East Ridge and the Voie Normale. The cold winds had covered the North East Ridge in rime and verglas which made the crux UIAA IV crack pitch pretty hard. It had a very Scottish feel. This should now have all cleared with the warm weather.

A local French Guide on the crux crack.

We spent the next three days in the Aiguilles Rouges and the Mont Blanc Massif climbing; Via Corda Alpina, Athina on the Contrefort de Droite, L’Index (2595m) and the Arete des Cosmiques.

All these routes were in good condition. The rock on Athina is not as good as that on the routes further left on this buttress and some of it should be treated with care. The Arete des Cosmiques still has enough snow on it to wear crampons the whole way.

Cool sky above the Cosmiques.

There are lots more photos on the facebook page.

Mont Gioberney and the Mer de Glace

Danny and I are currently in the Alps climbing together. The weather is very changeable at the moment and lots of studying of weather forecasts is required.

On Monday we travelled to Les Ecrins before walking to the Refuge de la Pilatte. The weather on Tuesday morning was not perfect but we persevered towards Mont Gioberney. We were rewarded with clearing skies on reaching the Col du Gioberney and amazing views from the summit (3352m).

Today we visited the Mer de Glace above Chamonix and spent time ice climbing and practising crevasse rescue skills.

Currently there is large volumes of snow remaining from the winter in the Alps making routes more time consuming.

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Danny on the summit of Mont Gioberney.

Mountaineering in Les Ecrins

Duncan, Steve, Tina, Scott, Paul and I have been in Les Ecrins from the 9th to the 12th July. We had intended on going to Arolla but due to very bad weather throughout the Valais and the Mont Blanc Massif we had a quick change of plan.

The gamble paid off and we had a brilliant time based in the huts above La Berarde and La Grave. During the five days we climbed; Tete de la Pilatte (3476m), Mont Gioberney (3352m), Pointe Richardson (3312m) and Pointe des Chamois (3315m). The ridges leading to the summits were in the PD to PD+ range and had a very Scottish feeling in the current heavy snow condtions and rime ice.

We climbed these mountains from the Refuge de la Pilatte and the Refuge de Pave. Both huts were very friendly. The Pave Hut is in an amazing situation and well worth the 5 to 6 hour approach.

Scott and Tina on the approach to the Tete de la Pilatte (3476m).

Scott and Tina on the approach to the Tete de la Pilatte (3476m).

Steve, Scott and Paul outside the Refuge de Pave.

Steve, Scott and Paul outside the Refuge de Pave.

 

Mountaineering in Les Ecrins

I am just back from a successful week in Les Ecrins with Natalie and Marcus.

We travelled on Monday from Chamonix to La berarde before walking into the Refuge de la Pilatte. The next morning we climbed Mont Gioberney (3352m). The route was in excellent condition. We wore crampons from the hut to the summit and back.

Marcus and Natalie near the summit of Mont Gioberney.

Marcus and Natalie near the summit of Mont Gioberney.

The next day we spent some time climbing on the granite crags of the Ailefroide valley before walking to the Refuge Glacier Blanc. The temperature on Thursday morning was very cold giving great snow conditions for our ascent of the Pic du Glacier d’Arsine (3364m). We climbed the mountain from the Col du Glacier Blanc giving us some fun scrambling before the snow arête beyond. After descending the mountain we ascended the Glacier Blanc to overnight at the Refuge des Ecrins.

Barre des Ecrins from near the Refuge des Ecrins.

Barre des Ecrins from near the Refuge des Ecrins.

Today we climbed Roche Faurio (3730m) before returning to the valley. The conditions on both Roche Faurio and the Glacier Blanc were excellent.

A team on the ascent of Roche Faurio.

A team on the ascent of Roche Faurio.