The Final Week of the Season

David and I have just finished a great week together in the Alps. This was my final week in the Alps this season.  We visited both the Monte Viso Massif and the Mont Blanc Massif.

Below is a report on where we went and the conditions we found. The first three days were based from the very welcoming Rifugio Giacoletti. The second three days were based from the excellent www.gitemontjoly.com in Saint Gervais.

  • 13/09/17. Punta Venezia (3096m) via Cresta Perotti. Can be climbed in the same day as the walk in to the hut if you get to the car park early!
  • 14/09/17. Punta Roma (3069m) to Paso Giacoletti via Cresta del Colonnello. Traditional alpine AD ridge. Not a place to be in a storm.
  • 15/09/17. Punta Udine (3019m) via Cresta Est. Classic rock ridge right behind the hut. We wore rock shoes.
  • 16/09/17. Arete a’ Lauernce and Arete des Cosmiques. In excellent condtion following the recent snowfall.
  • 17/09/17. Aiguille Crochues (2840m) traverse and Aiguille du Belvedere (2965m). In wintery condition. Crampons would have been useful on the Belvedere.
  • 18/09/17. Multi pitch climbing at Les Gaillands. Lots of easy routes to do in mixed weather.

The crux move on the Arete des Cosmiques.

There are lots more photos on the facebook page.

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 Frasse and Saas Fee

Paul, Hector and I are climbing together this week. On Monday we climbed at the excellent slab of La Frasse which is 30 minutes from Saint Gervais. The rock here is perfect, well bolted and the routes up to three pitches in length.

Yesterday, we climbed the Allalinhorn (4027m) from Saas Fee before overnighting at the Britannia Hutte.. The mountain was in good condition.

Today we traversed from the hut to Mattmark reservoir via the Holaub and Allalin Glaciers. Since I last did this route a number of years ago the route has become much more popular, well marked with paint and cairns and very easy to follow.

The view from the ascent of the Allalinhorn.

Lyskamm and Other Summits of the Monte Rosa

John and I have spent the last three days in the Monte Rosa Massif. We approached from Staffal (Gressoney) on Thursday after driving from Saint Gervais les Bains and made the ascent of Pyramide Vincent (4215m) in good conditions.

During Thursday night/Friday morning a serac collapse crossed the track giving access to the summits of the Monte Rosa. John and I took a different line to avoid most of the danger over the next couple of days without any problems (although most teams kept walking on the main track through the debris!). Taking the line John and I took exposure to risk is a couple of minutes in ascent.

On Friday after crossing Il Naso (4272m) we climbed the Cresta Sella to the summit of Lyskamm (4527m) before descending the East Ridge. The Cresta Sella was great fun and in good condition (the section crossing the col between the two peaks may need ice screws for protection soon).

The route on Il Naso from the Rifugio Moantova is completely different this season from how I have ever done it before. It is worth checking on the best way to go with the Guardian as it is different from the guidebooks.

Yesterday we climbed Ludwigshohe (4341m), Parrotspitze (4432m) and Signalkuppe (4554m). A number of teams turned back due to the cold and wind chill factor from the strong breeze. Big jackets and gloves are advised!

More photos on the facebook page.

John exiting the Cresta Sella.

Petit Bargy

‘Escalade-aventure’ on the Petit Bargy yesterday with Paul. This 1200 foot rock face is a short drive from Saint Gervais where we are based.

The mist was down when we reached the lake at the base of the crag. This made it very hard to locate the approaches to the routes and the routes themselves. I would recommend going there for the first time in good visibility.

Details of the crag can be found in the Vallee de l’Arve guidebook but it is also worth doing some research online (camptocamp is useful) with regards the equipment required.

There was a spontaneous rock fall on the descent of the Col d’Encrenaz so it is worth keeping helmets on for this. The track is exposed to this rock fall area for two minutes in descent (where it crosses the obvious, open bowl).

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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.

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.

The Duforspitze and L’Index

Following on from our successful trip to the Champoluc valley, John and I have had another successful three days in the mountains.

On Thursday we travelled to Zermatt before completing the approach to the Monte Rosa Hutte where we overnighted. Following the 2am breakfast the next morning we climbed to the top of the Duforspitze (4634m) before returning to Saint Gervais les Bains. The Duforspitze is the highest point in the Monte Rosa Massif and the second highest mountain in Western Europe. The mountain was in good condition.

Yesterday we climbed L’Index (2595m) above Chamonix. This classic rock peak is featured in Gaston Rebuffat’s book, ‘100 Best Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif’.

John on L'Index with Mont Blanc behind.

John on L’Index with Mont Blanc behind.

 

Three Regions in Four Days

Paul Skipworth and I are climbing together this week basing our trip from Saint Gervais Les Bains.

On Monday we spent the day on the Mer de Glace above Chamonix completing an Ecole de Glace session. We then made the short drive to Les Aravis on Tuesday before completing the traverse of the Pointe Percee (2750m). This is a beautiful peak with lots of good rock routes on it in a stunning limestone location.

On Wednesday morning we travelled to the Zinal valley before walking to the Tracuit hut. We were accompanied by snowfall above 2700 metres. Yesterday, we climbed the Bishorn (4153m). The mountain was in excellent condition due to the large quantities of new snow. This new snow will however make the rock ridges of the Valais very difficult.

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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.