Sunday 8 May 2011

Mallory, Aiguille du Midi

After six (SIX!!!!!!) days of consecutive work, I was really looking forward to a mountain day so Tom and Guilhem and I decided to go for a run up the Mallory route (AD+, III, 4a, 1100m) on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi.

We were unsure as to what the crux was, or what condition it was in, and so took 2 x 30m ropes and a small rack. The walk in was pretty quick and we soon found ourselves shooting up the easy lower slopes. The snow was pretty sugary after a very warm night last night, but the low angle meant that it was still easy to go quite fast.

The crux is fairly low down and is at the first real rock step. I led up and it was pretty steady, more awkward than difficult. We all agreed that we'd solo it if we had to but having brought the ropes it would have been daft not to use them. Once past the crux we took the ropes off and climbed the rest of the route without getting them out again.

Tom and I shooting the breeze mid way up the route.
All photos courtesy of Guilhem Martin Saint Léon,

The route is actually surprisingly interesting and although it is mainly snow plodding it winds in and out of various features and interest is maintained all the way. It is also an amazing feeling to be on such a big face and moving fast, all the while with cable cars buzzing past.

The Demi Lune where the Mallory and Eugster couloirs meet.

Tom nearing the top

Conditions are not great right now, with the snow being quite heavy and not as firm as we would have liked. That said, it would be pretty hard to fall on the vast majority of the route and having left the mid station at 8.30, we were back in town with a beer in hand by 3 (and we were hardly rushing), so it can't have been that bad.

Tom and I on the final slopes

Great views, great situations and a 1100 metre north face in the bag - what a day.