Having only got back to Cham late yesterday, I was uber keen to get cracking right away so Tom and I decided to have a go at the Fil a Plomb, starting from the Plan de L'Aiguille and (hopefully) catching the Midi down at the end of the day.
Tom at the Plan de L'Aiguille looking up at the Midi N face. The route takes the mixed ground below the obvious col straight above Tom.
The walk in was fine as someone had put a track in, and we were both extremely relieved that we weren't the ones who had had to do it as the snow was pretty deep in places. Things were all going fine until a serac suddenly shed some excess ice to our right. We had intentionally avoided walking under the serac and so I quickly got my camera out to get some shots, but the falling ice hit more ice further down and next thing a small serac fall had become a MASSIVE one. Still thinking we were safe I snapped a couple more photos and then we realised that although none of the debris was going to hit us, the ensuing wave of airborne snow was headed straight for us. Just before it reached us I suddenly realised that I had no idea what to expect. Can you breathe?!?! Does it knock you over?!?!
I'd never been hit with a wall of snow before, so it was almost a relief that it is actually no worse than going from blue sky to the worst blizzard of your life in a split second. Wearing only a base layer on my top half it was pretty chilly (it took us 15 minutes of almost jogging uphill in down jackets to warm up again afterwards) but not too bad. There had been a lone person walking behind us and once everything cleared I ran back looking for him. Luckily he was fine too, his description being "That was like dying, just without the final bit!"
Errrr....is that heading our way?!?!
Yep! Me feeling a lot happier/more relieved than I look after the snow storm.
With pysche dented but not destroyed, we pushed on up towards the route and were soon soloing up towards the crux. We ended up roping up a pitch before the crux as there was a pretty tricky little mixed section to avoid some thin ice.
Tom soloing on the lower section
And again, on a short mixed step shortly before the crux.
By this stage Tom was suffering pretty badly with a hamstring injury, and with him having to be in work at 2pm tomorrow (in Exeter!) we decided to bail rather than even take a slight risk of missing the last bin or having an epic with him having to do the top half of the route on one leg. There are in situ abs so it was pretty easy to get off, and although disappointing, I'm glad to be sitting in a warm house rather than dragging a one legged man along the Midi arete!
Although we bailed, the route is certainly climbable right now, albeit with some thin sections and quite a bit of deep snow in places. Still plenty of good weather coming up, so hopefully I'll be reporting a succesful ascent soon...