Wednesday 26 May 2010

Contamine Route, Pointes Lachenal

With one day of good weather left and very high temperatures, Tom and I went up the Midi and skiied into the uber classic Contamine route on the Pointes Lachenal. After failing to change into rock boots without getting them wet on the snow we set off on perfect golden granite, and the great pitches just kept coming! As with many granite faces, the route finding is not amazingly obvious, but we managed to find the crux pitch easily enough, and Tom dispatched it pretty quickly. We reckon about E1 5c, and superb with it.

Tom high on the crux pitch

With the crux pitch out of the way there are 3 much easier pitches left, making about 10 pitches in total, and then an ab descent. With all the cracks and other potential rope snags, you need to be careful which line you ab, but with so many fixed belays about it's pretty easy. We stayed roughly on our line and occasionally headed out onto the face to the left to ensure smoother rope management.

From the bottom we had an hour left until the last bin down the midi and the last train down from Montenvers. For reasons which now aren't very obvious we convinced ourselves we could ski the Vallee Blanche quickly enough to make it, but having to pole from the Salle a Manger for nearly an hour, followed by a half hour walk on moraine to even get to the Montenvers ladders proved us wrong. The VB is all but impossible now, so don't bother. We eventually made it to Montenvers at 7, and were in town for 8, so not too bad.

Long walk aside, we both agreed that the quality of climbing on the route was as good as anything we'd climbed in Cham - highly recommended.