Sunday 1 September 2013

Brevent binge - Hotel California, Vioz Traverse & Crakoukass

The last few days have been continually sunny here in Cham, so I've been getting out and making the most of it with 3 great days up at Brevent. If you get Brevent on a powder day in winter there is nowhere better to be, and the same is true when you get a sunny day in summer. 

First up was "Crakoukass", a nice 7 pitch route with sections up to 5c which I've done a few times but which never fails to provide an excellent day. We were filming the day for Episode 3 of Chalk and Granite, so check back next week to see the final edit! Thanks Toby and Sophie for an excellent day.

I didn't get any climbing shots from the day, but I did see some people wingsuiting from the top station and I managed to get this (I think) quite cool sequence of photos of a guy jumping. SCARY stuff!!!

Next up, Sharon and I decided to go and investigate the Traverse of the Vioz. This series of peaks is accessed from the top of Brevent and gets a bit of a hard time in the guidebook ("Abseils from a single point, non-existent cleaning, vegetated get the picture, this route is far from perfect") but we figured it looked fun and we fancied an adventure.

We were actually pleasantly surprised by the route, and though there are indeed some oddly placed bolts, poorly bolted abseils and plenty of vegetation, the Vioz does provide a good day out. The only issue we had was on the crux 6a pitch, which is covered in lichen and has some really snappy and loose feeling rock. I led up and was above the crux move, but then the slab steepened to almost vertical, everything got even more lichen covered, and the moves suddenly became quite tricky, with lots of sidepulls and poor footholds. As if that wasn't enough, the bolts just stopped, and there looked to be no prospect of any more. I wasn't keen to push on into the unknown and risk a huge fall so we backed off and climbed to the summit of the Pointe des Vioz via the route normally used in descent. This actually provided an easy, fun scramble, so I'd recommend doing that unless you are feeling very brave indeed and fancy taking on the slab. Overall, a fun day, and great to be on something a bit different, away from the crowds.

Me with the Aiguille Verte behind

Sharon on the 3rd tower the Vioz traverse

Some company for the walk down

I'm on a bit of a fitness drive right now (it won't last), and I'm looking to do routes which cover plenty of ground and get me moving, so with that in mind we decided to go for a classic itinerary today, and climb the 10 pitch "Hotel California" and then the Clocher - Clochetons traverse. A lie in and leisurely breakfast threw a spanner in the works though, and we ended up just doing the first route (which was excellent). I told myself that everyone needs a steady day every now and then...

Mystical views of Mont Blanc

It's hard to get lost at Brevent!

The good weather looks to be continuing into next week, so I'll be out enjoying it - stay tuned for a full conditions report when I've been up high.