Thursday, 27 August 2009

Petit Dru North Face Attempt : Death Bivouac

In response to the email from Mum : "Have you been up a mountain playing silly buggers while I have been waiting for a reply to any of my e-mails? " The answer is yes and here is the story!

27th August 2009

This morning we had a little adventure on the Dru North Face, John Roberts - the guest blogger gives us a summary. To see a bit of route beta and rockfall news see the previous post.

Over to John......

Problem 1 - Lightning Storm Number 1
"This is the best way - you bend down on your knees and stick your ass in the air. The lightning goes in your ass."

Problem 2 - Water
"This water's full of aliens."
"No it's not, it's granite"

Problem 3 - Gas
"We've run out of gas."

Problem 4 - Rain Storm Number 1
"Of f£$k, shit, the chocolate's gone down a hole."
"Oh well, you're going hungry."
"No you are, it's the team chocolate."
"Better go and get it then."

Problem 5 - Rockfall (see photo from below post)
"The bonatti pillar's falling down."
"What do we do."
"It's easier if you run when you're out your sleeping bag."
"Oh, yeah."
"Where now?"
"Hide behind that rock."
"Do you think we're gonna die?"
"Go get the camera then."
"Now I feel like an American."
"My sleeping bag's over there... Damn, I got pretty far hopping"

Problem 6 - 3 hour rain storm 2
"My bivi bags better than yours."
"No it's not, mine only weighs 500grams."
"So what, mine's waterproof. Oh shit"
"The f&$^£&g puddle that collected in the hood just poured in."
"See told you mine's better."

"What's your psyche level out of 100?"
"Bout 62."

Problem 7 - Rockfall number 2
"We've gone the wrong way"
"This is the way down here."
"Good job we went the wrong way. Would've died then."
"What's your psyche level?"

"Let's go home."


Until next time..........

Petit Dru North Face Attempt : Rockfall

Quick photo of minutes after the rockfall - after we ran away! 
(the cloud is not rainy cloud, its granite dust!)

More news and pictures coming soon and a story from John. But to put a long story short another big section of the Bonatti Pillar fell off last night as we were bivvying in the lower morraine.

This along with storm and rain last night meant we attempted the start of the North Face Classic Route this morning but quickly ran out of psyche!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Amone Slab

Waiting for the weather...... John has flown back from the UK and now its a waiting game. Didnt want to wait too long so we went to do another of Gaston's favourites, The Amone Slab. 

As I write this I have read some comments on the web about the quality of the route in terms of bolt spacing etc.... Yeah its bold here and there but we found it ok. And in the total 12 pitches, there are only really 3 hardish sections. With the 7th being fairly thin (perhaps bold fr 6a?).

Anyway, a hot day and a good day. The route was ok if not a little samey (as to be expected)...  I think the heat and hot feet got to us a little as we were pleased to have it in the bag as we topped out and boshed down the chains to the van for lots of cold drinkss!!!

Lets have this storm out of the way so we can go climb something biiiiig.

Johns pics coming soon

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Nabot Leon, Aiguille de la Blatiere West Face / Pilier Rouge

After going on completely the wrong route last week due to being incompetent, and having the wrong guidebook..... here we are again for a second bash. 

Routefinding is infact easy and the climbing superb! Fantastic day out! 

Here are some snaps of Ben and Mel who came out for adventure wednesday.

Up on the first pitch, this route is great with good steady but sustained climbing.

Mel and Ben ending up on the upper slab pitch after a very cool little steep wall. Great atmosphere.

Mel arriving at the 6th Belay...sun coming out

4 long abseils from the top and down we go....

This place looks like it needs a bit of time spent on it with some stunning lines such as Majorette Thatcher etc.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Aiguille de la Republique

The Team

Will after the '@£$%^&*' Step

Jon and Wilson

Monday 17th August

Comedy couple of days out with John and Will today, always a good crack climbing as a 3!  This time we headed for the Envers hut which I have not been to before. A great haven of quiet from the bustle of the summer. Here there is a load of rock climbing....a good few weeks worth, climbing and living out of the tent.

Having a bit of a deadline, John needed to get the last Montenvers train down today as he had to pick up the missis in Geneva. Having arrived at the hut after the endless ladder stairway, it became apparent that the route was actually quite long and quite an undertaking. With a fast party doing it in 12 hours (hut to hut) last week. We were hoping we could turn this around in about 6-8, leaving us time to get down.... Our wake up time changed from 5am to 3am... bugger.

Feeling very punterish this trip making a whole heap of standard schoolboy errors that had disappeared since I started doing a load more routes out here. (going the wrong way in the morning, forgetting which bedroom we were in, underestimating how the route would take....etc)

So we decided to stick with the route, despite the fact that we probably couldnt commit to climbing it all. Turned out to be a fantastic alpine day with loads going on and a really great recce of the whole back of the Grepon, Charmoz, Republique, Roc and satellite spires. This means next time will be really quick.

Point to note: alloy crampons are shit for anything but ski touring (and thus keeping in the sac).... I guess we were expecting a wee snow slope, turned out to be a fair amount of ice on route.

Had a bit of a stinker on the way down, could have been more serious than it was but was recovered in fine style ;) Basically the last 4 abseils are not in the direct fall line so require a bit of care. Ended up going for a bit of a ride with a free abseil after an overhang then a bit of a sketchy hinterstoisser to find a peg which was still about 5m from the actual belay. Managed to get the other boys to get back on the ab route but then I was stranded. This is the same ascent for the Grepon>MDG so info is in the guidebook and would be useful to know incase you had to bail on the above route.

Descent Beta......

From the bottom of the Couloir. Descend to the obvious belay block at the top of the jammed block pitch (tat and maillon). Abseil 60m rope length to cord with a maillon (we downclimbed from here to a block on a terrace with yellow tape and a maillon) you see this on the ascent. From here abseil to a large terrase where you would expect to see a bolt loweroff  going straight down the face...but it isnt there!!! About 45m down this abseil the 2 x  bolt belay is on the right (looking in) about 15-20m and is hidden around a corner of a block...difficult to spot. Good to find as these are bomber abseils and there are 4 to the snow slope. We used 60m ropes and this would be advisable for this descent. 

WARNING ABSEIL NO.1 - It would make sense for the abseil line to be on the fall line. It isnt! It is crucial here to stick to the arete and veer right to find the abseil which is on 60m just. I went down the fall line only to find no belay! I think if you abseil the correct way you will find an appropriate abseil inbetween making 4 abseils in total from the first bolted ab.

Abseil Number 2 - Goes down past a bolt and then the belay is on the left looking in under a roof. 

Abseil Number 3 - Straight forward down into the bergschrund.

Great day out, looking forward to going back to finish it! I think now we have the beta we can do these sections in the dark for both the Grepon > MDG and the Republique and start nice and early!

Thanks John and Will for top day out! 

Off the glacier and straight into it

Careful on the ab's

Help.... me being rescued after abseiling the wrong way!

Boom'o The alps are falling down still....

Thursday, 13 August 2009

August Fever

Wow its busy here in Chamonix!

We went up to climb the Cordier Pillar on Tuesday night (bivvy) got there to find at least 7-8 other groups all going for the same. Decided to leave it for september and go route finding on the Pillar Rouge (with difficulty)....

better luck next time I hope!

Looking forward to September when I can get out every day and its more quiet!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

La Joux Cragging

Perfect day at work today with a knock off time of 1pm.

Glen and I decided to head to La Joux for some chilled out cragging. It was quite hot, not too sweaty!

This crag always has a low crux then eases off - was good to finish on some more sustained routes.


- 21 and d'abnegation, 5C
- T.L.Y, 5C
- Chulilla Pearl, 6A
- ENSA- Marco Troussier no.1, 6B
- Volage, 6B
- La beaute du peche, 6A

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Ecole des Echelles - Montenvers Cragging

Thursday 6th August

A day out cragging in a spectacular location.... not entirely alpine adventure but a spectacular crag with a spectacular view.

Here we are at the Ecole des Echelles which is a 10 min approach from the Montenvers Railway. Great granite slab climbing up to 6B+ on the lower section then harder on the upper.. Though 6B+ slab was quite enough today. Delicate but somehow also athletic....

Notes for logbook...
-Adieu Siberie (D+ 90m 5B) - Could climb this all day long
-Buddha-bar (TD 110m 6A) - Great 5C lower section and good upper 6A crux
-Vertical Tango (TD+ 45m 6B+) - Awesome thin climbing!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Eperon des Cosmiques Voie R├ębuffat

Wednesday 5th August

Everyone is in town today! A busy Vallee Blanche City!

Great to get back on the Granite. 4th Pitch starting up the steep grooves and cracks that soon turn slabby.

D+ 150m (V and A1)

Fun half day out today with Rick - wanted to utilise the liftpass so we went up the midi. Have done the Rebuffat route on the South Pillar of the midi with Byron a couple of year ago, so we decided to go for the Eperon des Cosmiques and then finish up the Cosmiques Arete. Again the Rebuffat route provided fun climbing in the lower section through the roof then awesome IV/IV+ climbing on solid granite jams for a couple of pitches. Stunning climbing on lovely sun baked rock. The climbing finishes on a small ridge that can be linked up to the join to the bottom of the second abseil with a bit of scrambling.

A reminder that it is August.... traffic on the Cosmiques!

Easily home in time for chillaxing and beers

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

L'Aiguille du Pouce South Face

Tuesday 4th August

The South Face of the Pouce

A couple on the 'Cafe Pouce' striking 6B line up the centre

Indecent exposure

Voie des Dalles (TD- 400 m.)

A bit optimistic for the first proper warm up day but we decided to go for it from the first Flegere lift. Access was a 1.5 hour pull up scree then down choss to the face. Routefinding started not so well but we got there after a little while. Great, sound slab and delicate climbing on holds facing the wrong way most of the time.

Index Chairlift 8.15am - Bottom of Route 10am - Summit 3.45pm - Index Chairlift 5.20pm (phew)

Really fantastic massive action packed day out!

Cool traverse

More alpine posing!

p.s. climbing felt quite tough in parts!

Le Fayet & Servoz Cragging

Monday 3rd August

Rick is over for 4 days, so got a 4 day session of climbing lined up with a nice little gap off work. As we only had half a day today, we headed down the valley as rain was due. Climbed out the Le Fayet lower crag (with hoards of people!) so headed to the upper crag. Steep and slimy was the name of the game and I struggled up some desperate thing! Not my bag!

Rick seconding through the slimy, slopey, soapy route on the upper crag - another fellow frigger to our left.

Steep 6B+ type stuff going on here

We then ended up at Servoz Crag before it rained. Rick ran out a long 6A/6A+ route with some great jugs to heave on at the top!