After a day of furious rest following the Cordier, we decided to go up the Mer de Glace and do a route on the Pillier des Contes, beneath the Envers Des Aiguilles hut. However, after about an hour of walking, we got the guidebook out to check where we were and saw that we were right underneath "Vingt Milles Lieues sous la Neige" (TD+, 6b, 300m) which was described as one of the best routes in the Massif. Seeing little point slogging up any further with such a good route right next to us, we quickly decided to forget the Contes and started up Vingt Milles.
French team on an adjacent route.
The first proper pitch is actually the crux, coming in at a desperate 6b on a glacier polished slab. Luckily it was very well bolted and despite the precarious climbing it is very safe. Purely for historical accuracy, I must note here that Peter fell off seconding this pitch.
This is taken from the official start of the route which is now about 30 metres up due to shrinkage of the glacier.
The rest of the route is absolutely superb and very varied. Protection is excellent on the crack pitches, and anywhere without cracks has bolts so it's very stress free. That said, there are several 25 foot runouts on some of the bolted sections so it's not the place to push your grade. The descent is straight back down on bolted belays so all in all a great and stress free route.
With one day left in Cham and feeling pretty knackered from long days and lots of red wine the night before, Emma and I headed up the Grand Floria and did "Robin Wood" (TD, 6a, 180m). The route is excellent and varied but I felt the crux was really tough for the grade. Still, good weather, climbing and company made for an excellent day.
Emma at the foot of the cliff after I forgot to take any photos on the route!
Nepal and Scotland now beckon for me, so I won't be in Cham until after Christmas when it will be skiing time. Can't wait!
And don't forget - "There is no such thing as too much snow".