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.


Danny on the summit of Mont Gioberney.

Three Days in Les Ecrins

John, Harvey and I drove on Wednesday from Chamonix to La Berarde in search of some sunshine. Heavy rain accompanied our drive until we arrived in the village at which point the clouds cleared and the sun came out. We then had a pleasant walk to the Refuge Temple Ecrins. For those planning on going in the next couple of days to the Refuge de la Pilatte, check on access locally as one of the bridges is down due to recent floods.

The weather yesterday was perfect. This allowed us to make the ascent of Pic Coolidge (3775m). This is an excellent, long and varied alpine route and was in good condition.

After overnighting at the Centre Alpin in La berarde, today we climbed the 2611m summit of the Aiguillette du Lauzet utilising the via ferrata. The sun was out all day and we only encountered rain on our return to Chamonix.

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

On Pic Coolidge with Harvey and John. L'Ailefroide can be seen in the background.

On Pic Coolidge with Harvey and John. L’Ailefroide can be seen in the background.

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.