Saturday, 31 July 2010

Chamonix 2010

Our plans for Chamonix this year really didn't turn out. Mostly due to some very unsettled weather last week.
The first 2 days brought us constant rain in the valley, which fell as snow above 3500m. The rest of the week was very unsettled, with lots of cloud and high wind.
Route choice proved to be quite difficult also. Most of the ice/mixed routes were left in poor condition with recent high temperatures and blistering sun, and after the snow last week, the high rock routes were left buried.
With this in mind we got on a couple of routes in the Aiguille Rouge, spent a day bouldering in the valley and managed one high mountain route, the Midi-Plan Ridge.

With a seldom fine day forcasted, we headed up the Aiguille du Midi on the first car and beat the crowds out of the ice tunnel, down the descent ramp and onto the classic Midi- Plan ridge.

The morning was pristine but already becoming very hot. We made good time on the ridge and soon passed the narrow snow ridges and up the couloir and up to the Rognon du Plan. A couple of abseils and we were soon down on the Col Sup du Plan. A French guide was hot on our heels as we climbed the final section up onto the Plan rock summit, via a couple of final hard moves with the ledges being iced.
Once on the summit we rapped of back down to the col and made the decision to return to the Midi rather than down to the Requin hut. With the heat, it was the best decision not to tackle the Envers du Plan Glacier.
Back over the col we ascended the fixed rope, then had the long steep plod back to the Midi, again making good time where most teams slow, with no one behind us for 45 mins.
As soon as we headed down, the clouds began to engulf the Midi, where there was a team on the Frendo, which looks pretty icy up around the Rognon.

Over in the Aiguille Rouge we climbed a fantastic route, ' Crakoukass'.  A fantastic 7 pitch route which is becoming a bit of a classic seeing a lot of traffic. We thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining route, which had many different aspects including climbing up one monolith needle to another, then taking a, 'le cheval', belay on the top. The crux was climbing from the arete onto the side wall of the larger arete which leans back slightly with 100ft of air beneath the feet!
We also climbed the last few pitches of, 'La Somone' instead of walking up to Le Brevent. We climbed these moving together, 'alpine style', bit of practice!

So no Fendo spur, Forbes Arete or Jager couloir, and finally to top a week that didn't end up as planned, a broken ankle, courtesy of yours truly & the Frison Roche!!