Friday, 21 January 2011

Frendo Ravanel's overlord Jack Geldard recently made the wise decision to spend a winter in Chamonix and being a big fan of this blog, he was obviously keen to make his debut. We discussed skiing the Couturier but in the end decided to go climbing and opted for the Frendo Ravanel on the Grand Montets ridge. Access is so easy that you don't even need to ski uphill to get to it or away from it! Furthermore it is vaguely technical but not hard and has a nice easy ab descent. Bomber.

Looking up at the first vaguely technical section
The day didn't get off to a flyer when we got beaten to the route so we opted to do Farraron, just next to the Frendo. However, in the process of trying to get on the route a snow bridge collapsed and I fell in the bergschrund! Oops. Luckily I simultaneously face planted a lower snow bridge and the rope came tight so no harm done other than to my ego. Eventually we walked over to where the Frendo starts and decided to stick with the original plan.
The route starts with some easy snow plodding and easy ice up to about 60 degrees. There is then a little tricky step up thin ice and then some more snow and finally a crux section of about 60m of Scottish grade 5 ice. We moved together the whole way and didn't find much gear (ie. only the in situ belays for most of the way) but the ice is so good it would be tough to fall off.
 Sponsored hero caught on camera seconding!

                           That's more like it. Heading up the crux.
It was absolutely arctic today and we kept moving all day but didn't bother with the final 250 metres of snow up to the ridge, so do we get the tick? Also, we made the unusual decision not to time our ascent and so can't tell you how incredibly quick we were but honestly, we were flying, you should have seen it.COLD!!!!
Having done the abs we had a short downclimb back to the skis and were back at the car in plenty of time after a good fun ski down some "variable" snow.
Time for a brew.