Wednesday 20 April 2011

Profit Perroux, Aiguille du Midi

After a week of doing the tourist thing and generally having a break from mountains, I was keen to get out and so was my mate Tom, who booked this trip to Cham immediately after getting back from the last one. He's got taste.

I'd run into Jon Bracey and my mate Ian over the weekend and they'd just done the Profit Perroux on the NW face of the Midi and reported thin but acceptable conditions - Jon's exact phrase being "ice where you need it", which given that it was supposedly an ice route didn't fill me with confidence. However, Ian confirmed on the phone that it was in climbable conditions even for mere mortals, so that was decision made. Peter was in too, so a sociable day was in store.

The day begins with 5 abs, the first one being directly off the Midi bridge, and then 4 more down the couloir. The second set of ab anchors are quite hard to find but just keep going until near the end of the your ropes (60 metre ropes compulsory) and you should spot the bolts and yellow tat. The abs further down are all easy to find, and lead you into the route. The route isn't in the guidebook but if you have seen a photo of it it is pretty straight forward finding it.

Abbing in off the Midi bridge

Once on the route there are 2 very straightforward pitches on snow and rock and then the real fun begins. The photos of pitch 3 which I'd seen on the links below showed 5 metre wide, 70 degree ice, but right now it is a chimney with some ice at the back. At this stage Tom had a fit of keenness and accepted my offer of the lead so Peter and I, the old hands, settled into belay jackets. As it turned out it was quickly dispatched and we agreed that Scottish 5 is about right, so not too bad at all.

Tom leading pitch 3

Still psyched Tom also took pitch 4, which can be a wide runnel of ice up to a steep chimney, but right now it is thin ice on rock leading to a steep chimney, but again not too bad. The supposed crux of the route is the chimney on this pitch, but was actually pretty easy. There are a few steep moves on the right hand wall but if you forget your axes and climb it with you hands it is "Gritstone Diff" in Peter's words.

Nearly at the Cosmiques ridge

The final pitch is steady now, mainly ice with a few short rock steps and then you find yourself about half way along the Cosmiques Arete. Soloing back to the station we were home in plenty of time, so a great day hit.

Overall conditions are not great right now but the difficulties never exceed Scottish 5 and the quality of the climbing is excellent, so unless it gets any thinner it is still definitely worth doing right now. Meanwhile there were teams on the adjacent "Burnier Vogler", and they were just doing the top pitch when we saw them so it must be climbable but I don't have any details on conditions.

Couple more good write ups here -