Wednesday 24 August 2011

Aiguille Verte 4. Charlie 0.

After a summer of solid rain, the good weather had to arrive at some stage and it finally did so in the middle of August. This should explain the fact that the blog has been fairly quiet since then! The list of ideas was long and time short, so I have been getting stuck in and getting into the hills.

The views from the Couvercle are heard to beat

First on the list was to finally get on top of the Verte via a decent route. With Peter’s time in Cham running out we headed up to the Couvercle Hut hoping to do the Moine Ridge, graded AD but known to be long and serious. The hut guardian suggested a midnight start but that seemed far too keen, although 2.30 felt pretty grim all the same. The walk in took about 2 hours (but could be much longer if the glacier was more open) and the initial ramp was climbed quickly so we found ourselves hitting the ridge at daybreak. The route finding is not particularly obvious but just following the line of least resistance seemed to work fine, and we were making guidebook time despite the route being covered in snow.

Me low down on the ridge. "I thought this was supposed to be a rock climb!"

Sunrise views

Things took a turn for the worse when the sun hit us, and it got incredibly hot, even as we approached 4000 metres. Looking up we saw snow covered slopes which ought to have been rock, and knowing we had to descend the same way, we decided to bail. The whole ridge is downclimbed save for 3 or 4 short abs, and the thought of climbing down through ever softening slushy snow on slabs was not particularly appealing, especially with Peter leaving Cham the next morning and so keen to avoid an epic.

After all the sun we’ve had now the route would be in much better nick, and much safer to descend in the midday heat, so I may be back for a second go. One word of warning though – descending the Moine takes as long as climbing it so although it is safe (when dry), it is long and not obvious where to go, so allow plenty of time if descending.

Looking across to a surprisingly snowy Whymper Couloir - bit hot for my liking though. 

So the Verte remains unclimbed by me after 4 attempts – I might have to resort to plodding up the Whymper just to get it done!