Tuesday 3 April 2012

M6 Solar

Immediately after getting back from the Silvretta I headed south to see my family, who were on holiday in Nice. After a few tough days of eating good food, drinking fine wines and swanning around the sights of the Cote d’Azur, it was a bit of a shock to find myself on the first bin up the Midi yesterday with an ever-psyched Tom Moores.

Trying my luck using my Mondeo keys on a Monaco local’s car. No joy.

With an unreliable forecast we weren’t keen on getting too committed but wanted to climb something, and were sure that the Tacul E face would provide some mixed fun. Some rock climbing would have been good, but with possible bad weather due in the afternoon we figured that mixed climbing would be a safer bet.
After some deliberating we did an extremely dry “M6 Solar” on the Pointes Lachenal. The route is basically dry tooling with brief sections of snow/ice (and mud!) right now, but we managed to scratch our way up and had a good day in the process. As ever when climbing in this part of the Massif, the descent was a simple ski down the Vallee Blanche and a ride down the Montenvers train.

Tom seconding Pitch 1 

Tom leading P2. I led this pitch last time I tried the route, and knew that this section is miles easier with a bit of ice (which it currently doesn’t have). Sandbagged! He’ll learn one day.

As for conditions up there, things are looking pretty poor to be honest. The Modica-Noury & Gabarrou-Albinoni both look good in their upper reaches but the approach gully is extremely thin, with plenty of rock showing through, while the Valeria & Chippendale gullies are both virtually non-existent. Sorry, just telling it how it is! The VB is fine right now, with good coverage and firm, grippy snow. There is no shortage of moguls, but they are actually pretty fun given the good snow.

The weather looks like it is really going to turn now, but I suppose that after several weeks of blue sky, we musn’t grumble. There is even talk of snow down to 1400 metres, but it all looks very unpredictable.
Stay tuned for info as soon as I’m able to get back into the hills again!