Saturday, 30 August 2008

Frendo Spur

With continuing good weather & conditions in the Alps I was up early on Wednesday and back over to Chamonix to meet up with Ev for a trip up the uber-classic Frendo Spur. Looking at the North Face of the Midi from just above the mid-station the Frendo is the obvious Spur left of the main summit, with the upper snow-ice vastly foreshortened:

With an overnight stop planned for the top of the rock we made a late morning start and climbed the 800m of rock to the bivvy ledges below the famous snow arete. Due to some route-finding technicalities (don't stay too far left!) we ended up spending alot more time on harder rock than the classic route, making this a long day but with lots of good sustained climbing at IV-ish. Ev on lead somewhere on the rock with afternoon cumulus adding some atmosphere:

Arrival at the bivvy ledge, a fantastic spot to spend the night, and a couple of good flat ledges with a great view:

The view from the 'bedroom window':

Late evening sun on the upper ridge:

Dinner time:

First light in the morning saw us leaving the bivvy ledge after a quick brew and heading up the impressive snow arete to the upper rock rognon. This section is massively foreshortened from below (450m vertical), and gives steady but very very airy climbing in a serious position, with the slopes dropping away steeply on either side down to the Plan D'Aiguille. Looking down from near the base of the Rognon, 200m later:

The snow/ice approaching the Rognon wasn't in perfect condition, making the climbing more laborious than it might have been, but what a setting! Ev on one of the pitches turning the Rognon on the left:

The Frendo saves the best til last, and the final pitch of the left hand finish gave a great section of steep, featured ice, with perfect 'first swing' axe placements, and then an easy pull to take a last belay on top of the Rognon:

From here 50 metres of boot-packing took us onto the Midi-Plan ridge for a welcome return to Horizontality, and then a final effort up the knife edge ridge to the Midi top station and a welcome cable car ride back to town. Shame about the crowds...!

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