Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Cosmiques Arete, Pointes Lachenal & Montenvers Slabs

As is normal for May, conditions are pretty mixed in Cham right now with all sorts of weather, and a lot of snow still left on the ground. May is basically not a classic month, but with a bit of local knowledge it is still possible to get things done in the mountains.

Sunday saw Sharon and I climbing the Cosmiques Arete in perfect conditions, which made me remember just what a great route it is...if you get it when it’s quiet. The crux of the route is usually avoiding the crowds, but an afternoon start and climbing in inter-season usually guarantees solitude and so it was on Sunday.

Hero shots on the Cosmiques

On Monday Tom and I skied into the Pointes Lachenal for some granite climbing and got half a dozen pitches done under perfect blue skies. We backed off one route as it was still wet and then got lost on the Contamine route (despite having done it together a few years back), so all in all not a great success but fun all the same. The VB is just skiable right now but we opted to skin back up to the Midi, which only took an hour.

A good ice screw belay on the Pointes Lachenal

Tom sending

And making a bit of a meal out of a pitch on the Contamine. Just pull harder!

The forecast looked pretty shaky for today (Tuesday) so Peter and I opted to go and have a look at the Michel Piola area on the Montenvers slabs. The area is at the top of the final ladder before the Mer de Glace so the approach is quick and easy, and the climbing is excellent too. We did the 3 pitch “Buddha Bar” and also the first pitch of “Vertical Tango” before scurrying away as the wind picked up. I’ve walked past the slabs many times before and never given them a second thought, but I think the next time there is a half day window of good weather I’ll be back up there, it really is as good and stress free as cragging gets, and all set in an amazing situation.

Peter seconding "Vertical Tango" (6b+)

Me abbing off "Buddha Bar" (6a). The 2nd pitch goes up the orange streak to the right of the wall above me. Pic Peter Riley.

More unsettled conditions are looming now, but that’s May for you. Bring on summer!