Saturday, 18 June 2011

Tour Rouge & Pointe Elisabeth

Last week it looked like we finally had a good window of weather so Peter and I headed up, again, to the Envers area. We'd hoped to do a short route on our approach day followed by something long on the second day, but unfortunately the weather didn't quite do as it was told.

The forecast had been for 2 dry, sunny days, so it was a bit of a surprise when it started to rain half way up "Le Marchand de Sable" (6a+, 330m, TD) on the Tour Rouge E face. This is apparently the classic of the Envers area but watch out as all of the pitches were massively under graded. I've no doubt that the crux pitch would have been the same, so the rain came at the perfect moment - just as a I was looking up at the hardest bit! I would obviously have sent it had it not rained....

6a pitch on Le Marchand de Sable

With a good weather forecast it seemed a shame to pay for the hut, so why not bivi instead? 

By the next morning (following an slightly damp bivi) we had no faith in the weather forecast and opted for "Le Monde a l’Envers, ou pas de Charlotte pour les Ouvreurs" (6b+, TD+, 280m) on the Pointe Elisabeth instead of a big option.

The route is now 50 metres longer than it used to be due to glacial retreat so I led a quite loose pitch up to the first belay. On the ledge just below there was some incredibly loose big blocks, so having looked everywhere and shouted to check if there was anyone about, we did some trundling. This was obviously a public service, but also extremely good fun. Peter led after this as I was having one of those days where it just isn't happening. He tried to give me some stick but I reminded him that it is never happening for him on skis!!!!

The rest of the route is good, but not that obvious, so I think we wandered off route a few times. We also ended up on the wrong part of the upper ridge and so didn't go to the summit, but the weather was again threatening so it wasn't a hard decision to bail a pitch or 2 early. 

Not a bad spot to go rock climbing

There is some good weather forecast for next week when I am back in UK, but I still think rock climbing will be the way to go - safer and easy to escape if the forecasts are a bit shaky.