Sunday, 7 April 2013

Pepite 300m M4

After visiting the poilet D’or last night we were pretty psyched and inspired to try get out on the hill again, the forecast wasn’t great and we were running out of time. After some browsing we come across a new route called Pepite on the north face of the Petit Verte, the route was only put up in 2011 and is only a 10 minute walk from the Grande montets station so a perfect choice, the route itself is a 300m M4 so not too hard, we decided to give it a crack, we had to move to quick though as we were flying out the following morning and needed to be back in Chamonix and packed ready.

After a few problems at the station in the morning we eventually got the ski lift up to the montets, the weather was incredible, if anything a little too hot, we geared up and set off up the argentiere glacier, the approach was simple and within minutes we were at the foot of the route, the line looked pretty cool, Julian wanted me to lead the first pitch, so if doing alternative leads I would get the crux corner at pitch 3, I set on up, the climbing fairly easy, possible Scottish 4, I arrived at the belay joining another team on the route, Julian followed on up, we waiting for the other team to move, they were moving pretty slow and the guy belaying kept shouting up at his partner to hurry. Myself and Julian kept checking the time as we knew we needed to be on that last lift down, eventually they moved on and Julian set off behind, the climbing was fairly long and Julian was unaware that he was going to be climbing through the crux pitch, he managed it well though and before long was giving me the call of safe, I followed on up and the climbing was awesome, a nice delicate corner, might have been easier if there was some ice but it was pretty dry, I arrived at the belay and applauded Julian on the lead, we had a quick drink and pushed on, the next pitch a snow/neve corner,  it was pretty awesome, just running up the solid ice, axe after axe they just sunk in perfect, I arrived at the belay and we had caught up with the other party again, I down climbed a little and set up another belay off a stake and sunk my axes in, Julian followed on up, when he arrived he mentioned that there was a large avalanche down the North face of the Verte, there were some skiers down that area so we hoped knowone got caught up in it, the next two pitches were pretty straight forward, climbing no harder than Scottish 3/4. I finished on up and topped out on the crest of the slopes to petit verte summit, the sun was shining and it felt pretty cool, Julian followed on up and joined me at the top, we congratulated each other and geared up ready for the descent down the west slope back to the Grande montets station, we arrived back at the lift with time to spare, grabbed a bite to eat then head on down, at the half way station there was a massive event going on, a big party to celebrate 50 yrs. of the Grande montet, it was a shame we had to get back down or we could of stayed for a while to celebrate…
Pepite topo

The start ramp to bottom of Pepite

Julian arriving at pitch 1

Julian just about to head into the crux

Julian arriving at the belay on pitsch 3

Looking down the crux pitch

Coming over the roof of the crux pitch

Avalanche down the north face of the Verte

Summit time

The Dru with the mont blanc massif behind

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Pellissier Route 220m M5

With weather settling for a couple of days myself and Julian headed back up the hill to look at the Pellissier route on pointe lachenel, this was one of the routes on my wish list so i was pretty keen to give it a crack, Things didn't start to good when one of the straps on my snow shoe snapped at the station, so using a sling and a bit of modding we managed to sort it, we set off across the glacier making steady progress, but with all the skiers flying by without even braking a sweat it was kind of demoralising. After wading through deep snow we eventually arrived at the base of the climb.
The line looked pretty awesome and looked in OK condition to, we geared up and started the slog up the snow slope to the base of the route, we set up belay and i led on up the first pitch, it was a ice/mixed pitch and wasn't to hard, there was quite abit of spindrift coming down but the climbing fairly easy, I arrived at the belay and Julian followed on up. Julian took the lead on the second pitch, this was a nice thin ice line running up a chimney moving onto an easy mixed section. Pitch three was fairly small with a small crux bulge, it wasn't to hard but a little awkward, I took an ice screw from my harness to place it and made the mistake of holding it in my mouth, due to it being frozen it stuck to my lips, i pulled it and removed most of the skin from my lips causing me to bleed quite bad, i pushed on though and arrived at the belay, Julian followed on up and asked what all the blood was up the pitch, he soon noticed. the next pitch seemed pretty easy, a steep snow section up a tight corner, Julian lead on up with ease and followed on up behind. we were now at the final and crux pitch, a overhanging mixed section, The climbing was awesome and i managed to get some good gear in, maybe been a little easier if i was wearing my mono points rather than my dual, the feet were little but there were allot of good axe placements, i eventually arrived at the top of the route, Julian followed on up and arrived at the top. The visibility was getting poor now due to cloud coming in so we didn't wait around and started rappelling down the route, it all seemed to be going good until the last abseil, we pulled the rope through and it was all fine until the end of the rope got stuck in a crack, we tried to free it but it wasn't moving, couldn't believe our luck, how??, no knot just the rope and it gets stuck.. typical alpine adventure, we decided to leave it due to the weather coming in and made do with one rope to get down off the route, we had to put in some of our own anchors but we eventually made it down. We were now in a white out at the base of the route, we quickly took some food and liquid on board and made the hard slog back up to the cosmiques, this was a killer and took a long time, vision was nowt and snow was very deep but we eventually arrived back at the cosmiques hut in darkness, the kind guardian was nice enough to do us some dinner before we headed off to bed.
We both didn't sleep to good so we decided to come back down to the valley today to recover. Weather isn't looking to good for the next few days so we are unsure on plans, we wanted to try the supercouloir or the Gabarrou - Albinoni but weather being the way it is we may play it safe, there is another new line on the petite verte called Pepite so we may look at that, or we may just go skiing instead..

Pellissier Route follows the red line.

Modification to snow shoe

Eventually arriving at the route

Julian following up the snow slope to the first pitch

Me on pitch 1

Julian coming up pitch 3

Leading pitch 3

Julian leading Pitch 4
Looking down pitch 4

The M5 Crux pitch

On the summit

Julian on the summit

Bad visibility on the return to the cosmiques

never put a frozen ice screw in your mouth.. they stick

The end to another great day in the mountains

Monday, 1 April 2013

A tough first day in chamonix

After arriving in chamonix and conditions not being the best I was starting to feel like things might not happen, we spent most of Saturday eating croissants and sipping coffee, amongst looking at all the shiny new gear in the shops, The snow was still falling and all i could think is how bad it was gonna be up high. we checked the forecast for at the end of the day and it was showing better weather for the following afternoon, we decided to take the chance and set the alarm for the first lift up.
We woke at 0540 to heavy snowfall outside, after a little chat we decided to go back to sleep for a few hrs, we woke again around 0900 and it had stop snowing, we had a little chat and thought we we go up anyway even if its to wonder around to try a get a little acclimatised, we had the hope that the cloud would clear and might be able to at least get a good walk across the glacier in.
We arrived at the station and there many skiers there also hoping for conditions to improve, myself and Julian were getting a few funny looks, maybe due to fact that its normally only crazy English boys that go out climbing in this weather. finally the weather cleared and we could get out. we headed on down the midi arete, this was much easier than in the summer season, we fitted the snow shoes and started across the glacier, to be honest it was knowhere near as hard as i thought it would be. Julian was having quite abit trouble with his snow shoe so we lost allot of time, but we eventually made it to the cosmiques hut. by this time it was around 15:00. I was feeling good so I mentioned to Julian that we try the cosmiques back up to the station, he was happy so we went for it.
The snow up the first ridge section was pretty deep and powdery, there were another team up higher so they had helped a little with the step cutting, the weather was amazing and we seemed to be moving pretty quick, Julian then had a problem with his over boot and crampon coming off, we probably lost around 20 minutes until he decided to ditch the over boot and refit the crampon and climb on, we soloed most of the route other than the very snowed up traverses that seemed a little worrying. we arrived at the crux section and time was getting on, it was around 17:00 now so we had missed the last lift down, this was not good as it was our first day high and we were not acclimatised.
We climbed on, the crux was pretty cool, the climbing wasn't hard but it felt so much different to previous times id climbed this route, we moved on round and started up the mixed pitches, by this time the sun was dropping and we had the most amazing cloud inversion, the temperature had dropped by this time and my fingers and cheeks were starting to freeze but the view was taking the pain away, we finished on up the route to its summit just as the sun was going down, it was so beautiful and just for a short while i had forgotten what lied ahead for the night.
We walked around for a while and found the warmest place to sleep, it just so happened it was the men's toilets in the midi station, we also wernt alone, another British team were also out on the hill and had planned to stay the night.
By this time i was feeling pretty rough and my head was pounding, i was also being sick allot, it was defiantly going to be a long night, I made myself a bed as comfy as i could using bothy bags and rope.. i dint sleep much, i found myself illusinating lots and wondering where i was, i think Julian pretty much felt the same. Eventually morning arrived and the guardian came and let us know that the first lift down would be soon, we packed up, said our goodbyes to the other team and headed on down.
Today as been a day of rest and looking at ideas for tomorrow, we have decided to head up on the first lift and go and have a look at the pellisier gully on pointe lachenel, the walk in is going to be tough but hopefully we can get there and make an attempt, we plan on staying high tomorrow night so maybe we can get something done Wednesday to..

Ive got to say alpine winter is defiantly a different ball game and seriously not for the faint hearted but does have it rewards.

The midi plan traverse

Me getting a little excited to be back on the hill

waiting for the weather to pass before heading out

 glimpse of the cosmiques arete with mont blanc
in the distance behind

Julian following on up the first section of the route

Enjoying the sun and amazing veiws

Julian leading one of the mixed sections

A very cold and snowy me

Julian coming up the last pitch with an amazing veiw behind

Finishing up the last stroll to the station.

two happy but tired climbers

The end to a good day

Panoramo taken with my phone..

A bad night up high, thank got for the toilet.

Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are
naught without prudence, and that a momentary negliance may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; Look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end