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...!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Rain stops play

6 hours walking for 2 pitches of climbing... not a great ratio...

On Sunday, I fought the crowds on the Montenvers train and down the ladders onto the Mer de Glace:

3 sweaty hours later I met up with Ross, Dan and Ev who had come up the day before and had been enjoying the awesome granite climbing up on the Pointe des Nantillons. Not wanting to spend €50 a night on the hut we were using the cheaper option of bivvying, and there can't be many finer spots. One view from the bivvy site (Dru & Aiguille Verte in background):

Unfortunately despite a good, dry forecast for the next day 2 pitches up the route a light drizzle began to fall. Not a problem with the great friction of the granite, but as the rain gave way to hail/sleet things definitely were getting too slippery. 2 quick abseils saw us back at our gear, and with the others running out of food no option but to head back down the valley... Oh well, better luck next time...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

More Maurienne rock..

Some pictures from the 'Dame du Carro' climb on Monday, thanks to Dominique:

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Maurienne rock climbing

After a week of colder weather the forecast was good for the day yesterday, and Dominique called me keen for a climb in the Maurienne valley. A pre-dawn start saw us heading over the Col De L'Iseran and down to Bonneval at the head of the Maurienne. 3 hours walk got us to the bottom of the 'Dame du Carro' on the Cime du Carro, and 9 pitches of quality steep gneiss.

The summit sits on the French/Italian border and gave a spectacular panorama from the Gran Paradiso, through the Valais peaks, round to Mont Blanc, the Ecrins very clear, and the South side of the Maurienne - Ciamarella, Albaron. An interesting abseil descent (hmm) got us back to earth, and a well earned drink back at the Refuge du Carro:

Here's a couple of pictures of the South Ridge of the Pointe des Creux Noirs above Pralognan, which gave an interesting day out soloing a few weeks ago:

In memoriam: Reg Clarke

I first met Reg about 9 years ago, and had the pleasure of skiing with him many times in the years since then on the Jagged Globe courses of which he was a confirmed regular.
Reg always had a wise word (or 10), but was also a source of some hilarious moments, and much amusement, generally all retold over a glass of "95% water" (as he always put it), and was appreciated by everyone who met him.
Reg passed away in his beloved Alps last week, and leaves a big gap to be filled...