Monday 29 September 2014

Vent du Dragon & German Gully

The sun is still shining here and it almost feels as if summer is starting rather than coming to an end. The best part is that town and the mountains are quiet and the trees are turning orange, making the Valley look stunning. 

I decided to make the most of the good weather and continue the resurrection of my mixed climbing career, which has stalled (died?) over the past couple of years. First up was the German gully on the Tacul Triangle with Charley Radcliffe.  The first 2 pitches were great fun and a little thin in places, making for some good climbing but nothing too stressful. The ice ran out after 2 pitches so we abbed down, had lunch and then did a random pitch just to the right of our route just to get a bit more climbing in. Conditions are great on the Triangle right now and "Inadvertance" looked particularly good so I think I'll be back soon. Overall, a great day and the slog back to the Midi didn't feel quite as bad as it did a few weeks back, which was a pleasant surprise. 

Me leading the first pitch of the German Gully. Photo Charley Radcliffe.

Charley arriving at the first belay. I managed not to get any other shots so you'll have to take my word for it that Charley's pitch was good too.

Sunday saw Tom Moores and I up at the Midi again, this time heading for "Vent du Dragon" on the NW face. The abseil off the Midi bridge never seems to get any less intimidating even though I've done it half a dozen times...

Tom heading down to join me under the bridge.

Once under the bridge, 4 more abs took us to the foot of the route. 

The Cunningham couloir is so atmospheric that it's hard to believe we were drinking coffee in the Valley little more than an hour before I took this!

The route itself is just brilliant but the quality of the line was unfortunately not matched by my performance on the crux, which I managed after a pretty undignified thrutch and much grunting! I was pretty rubbish at mixed climbing to start with and a couple of years not doing much hasn't helped...

Luckily I was armed with "Mixed Master Moores" who pretended to find it tricky but basically cruised everything. Of the 3 best known routes on the face (The Burnier-Vogler, which I did in the pre-blog days, and the Profit-Perroux), this is by far the toughest and the best. Conditions are excellent and the Profit looked super fat so I think these routes are going to be pretty popular for the next month and rightly so.

 Tom about to join me on a belay.

Brilliant climbing on the final "proper" pitch.

I heard a BASE jumper fly past me when I was on the final section of the route and we spotted his mate about to jump when we were standing on the last belay. I got this shot and it made me realise 2 things - I wish I had a camera that could take more than 10 shots in a single burst, and that I NEVER want to do a BASE jump!

The weather is looking a bit more unsettled and autumnal over the coming week but there's still potential for a bit of sun here and there. I'll be trying to get out so stay tuned.