Thursday 6 June 2013

Chatelard & Pissevache

With some sunshine finally arriving here in Cham, I've been unable to resist a few days out in the sunshine despite having lots to be getting on with. I'm obviously keen to ski, but Peter is around, and any ski talk was instantly dismissed in favour of getting the rock climbing season going.

We started off with the excellent "Cacao Girls" (400m, 6a+), perched high above Chatelard in Switzerland. The route isn't in a guidebook, but there are topos online and they're well worth seeking out. The route is 10 pitches and whilst only one pitch has any really tough climbing (the first few metres of pitch 8), each pitch has at least a few "proper" moves, and the quality is absolutely superb all the way. A great day out.

Peter at the end of pitch 5, probably the best one on the route

The route takes the obvious clean sweep of rock in the middle of the photo

Today we had plans to head to Annecy but the bad weather was forecast to hit that area first, so we changed our minds last minute and went over to Pissevache, near Martigny. 

The approach is pretty involved, but good fun  - 

Whilst approaching the crag, a rock fizzed past about a foot away from my head, instantly killing any desire to go rock climbing, but Peter (a quarter of a century older than me) has enough psyche for 2 people, and saved the day with his keenness and willingness to lead the crux pitches, leaving me to get my mojo back! Cheers Peter.

The route we did (Miles Devisse; 6a+, 300m) was excellent, and the views are incredible. The only slight let down is that there is a brief aid section which is brutal even with 2 handily placed bolts. The top slab pitch is desperate too, and whilst only graded 6a it is so thin it makes Victoria Beckham look obese, and it fell only after the use of some underhand tactics.

Me near the top. Photo Peter Riley.

One of the highlights of the day was when we reached the top of the route and came out at the legendary "treehouse" area, which has an amazing crag and a little hut underneath. I couldn't get off the floor on any of the routes there, but I might go and stay for a night and quaff a load of wine - it really is a great spot.

The treehouse hammock

Peter doing his best Monty Python Lumberjack impression

Although there are some thunderstorms forecast over the next week or so, it looks like there will be some good weather, so summer may finally be arriving. There is still a vast amount of snow up high though, so I suspect that anything other than snow plodding and ski touring might have to wait a few more weeks yet. Stay tuned for updates as conditions evolve.