Sunday, 6 June 2010

Grand Jorasses, Midi South face and Bellachat

I'm sitting writing this as a broken man - what a 4 days!
Firstly, with lots of recent snowfall up high and a good forecast, Tom and I headed up to have a go at the Croz Spur on the Grand Jorasses. We ran into a British guide on the way up who described it as "the best mixed route in the Alps" and said he thought it would be in, so we were pretty psyched.
The approach was pretty long but we eventually found a good bivi under the face and got settled in. Up and away by 5am, we were soon on the face and found the first ice step to be pretty cruddy, hollow ice, but we carried on hoping for better because you just do when you've put in a big walk in and a bivi.
However, about 200 metres up the face and having moved together the whole way, the ice was getting increasingly poor, and just as we were discussing our options a volley of rockfall came down, so that was decision made. Always a shame to fail but when conditions are bad you can't do much about it.

Approaching the north face of the Jorasses. Gulp.

Downclimbing some of the easier terrain on the way home.
Walking back to Montenvers we felt pretty good so arranged to go up the Midi the next day and climb the uber classic Contamine route on the south face. The next morning we didn't feel quite so fresh - a virtually sleepless bivi and a huge walk out in deep snow the day before suddenly catching up with us - but we'd said we'd do it and couldn't wimp out.
The route itself is amazing, the crux coming in at about E3, and stiff at that. Tom freed it with a few rests, but I felt no such pressure and pulled on anything I could get my hands on. Just as well too because there were loads of queues on the face and we only just made the last bin as a result.
As with the Rebuffat route on the same face descent is easy by ab, and with 60 metre ropes we were down in 3 abs.
Tom feeling the pain on pitch 4.

Plodding back up the Midi arete - must be summer!

Finally, today a team of people from a company I have worked for over the last few years (Exodus) were out for a "working" trip to Chamonix over the weekend, so we had a superb day walking up to the Bellachat refuge, just below the Brevent. Despite 3 big days under my belt, and some thorough research into Cham nightlife under theirs, we kept a good pace up and were rewarded by some superb views, albeit with a bit of cloud. I think I might have got their hopes up with my description of the view as "the best on the World", but it was still pretty good despite not being totally clear. A great way to end an amazing few days.

Dan, Chloe, Niraj and Brendan looking a lot fresher than the photographer!!!
So overall, it seems that the big mixed lines might finally be done until autumn, but I'm keen to do more, so I'd love to be proved wrong. The south facing rock is also pretty dry, as was the West face of the Petites Jorasses, so plenty to go at. Meanwhile down on the Vallee Blanche, things like the Pyramid du Tacul, Pointe Adolphe Rey and Petit Capucin still look pretty plastered so they'll need a bit longer.
Don't even want to think about exercise for now though!

Finally, a little vid from on the Croz as I didn't take any photos.