After whats has proved to be a pretty poor summer season for weather so far it was bloody lovely to head up to the Envers Des Aiguille hut for some fun in the sun.
The Awesome Envers Refuge.
The Envers is one of those really special places with awesome climbing, stunning views, a friendly (and importantly not to big) refuge. The idyllic surroundings are enhanced by water tinkling over smooth slabs, alpine flowers and dramatic granite pillars. It is one of my “Happy Places” and I’ve always felt at home there, which is why I make a point of going up there at least once a summer when I’m here (read about my last trip up there in 2012)
Myself and Ross headed up from first train with a big rack and an open mind ready to sample some of the brilliant quality climbing the area has to offer. We discussed tactics on what kind of routes we wanted to do and settled on two “shorter” routes (although still a few hundred meters!) to make the most out of the time we had. We walked straight to 1er pointe des nantillions which is home to some magnificent routes around the 6a/6a+ mark. We ended up climbing the Uber classic Beinvenue au Georges V which Ross remembered he actually climbed before when we were on pitch 4. We’ll let him off though as it was probably about 20 year ago when he was in his mid 20’s :-). The climbing is fun and never to hard although the slabs are the hardest part so be prepared for that if you go up to do it! The belays are comfortable and the in-situ protection and belays are good. Here’s some Shots of the climbing (click one to see in gallery for full effect!):
looking down at the 2nd pitch
The second pitch had a cool finale.
Ross on the 4th pitch
Ross with the Dent Du Geant in the back
The Jorasses in the back
A team on Les Fleurs dwarfed by the scale.
Ross enjoying the shaded climbing
Looking over at the 2nd pointe.
Looking over towards the North face of the Requin.
After a pretty good nights sleep in the hut we woke up with out sights set on the Pyramid on the Pyramid Pillar. Given ED, 6a+ obligatory we knew we’d be able to get up the thing but we had the added challenge and option of harder climbing. The second pitch gets 7a and despite my best intentions to free it I pretty soon found myself “french freeing” (pulling on bolts) past the crux section. I wasn’t that psyched to be taking whippers before 8am…. that’s not very civilized! The climbing was awesome and the rock was immaculate with some of the best granite climbing I have done in a long while. Defiantly one to look at if your heading up that way. Here’s some shots from that day:
here comes the sun!
On the sweaty bootpack up to the bottom of the pillar
Ross finishing off the 2nd pitch.
Ross starting up the 3rd pitch
Looking down on the 4th
Looking up at the 4th.
6b+ or 6a with 1 point of aid.
getting the jams in.
Actually off route on Pedro Polar
the feet were feeling it at this point!
A team to on Pedro Polar.
Looking over at the verte
The Grandes Jorassses in the background
Ross on the Abseils.
Hopefully this good weather stick around for a while so we can get some more alpine action in! Ciao for now!
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After a long winter of skiing powder and difficult skimo conditions its been awesome to kick back and enjoy some sunny days in the shire… Devonshire that is. It was time to do some work and MOT my little van so I made the decision to scrap the last few weeks of the spring season to go back to the UK do some work in Devon for my Mum. Shes recently bought a church (!) and needed some help with painting some of the rooms so I’ve been busy with my brush and roller freshening it up.
With the good weather and long evenings its provided a good opportunity to keep up the rock climbing with multiple trips down to Anstey’s cove and a few days bouldering on Dartmoor. I’m starting to feel the benefits of getting out even just from the handful of times that I’ve had the chance, which is good!
Anstey’s Cove is a pretty special place with a huge range of climbs of all different types. DWS, Bouldering, scary Trad, easy Trad, and sport climbing of nearly all grades, what more could you ask for for a crag! Oh yer a nice beach? Yep got that too! I’ve been focusing on a classic 7c+ called Avenged which has eluded me in the past and alas continues to. More of a warm up route for most of the people hanging out down there these days it still feels quite tough for me. Its good to have something to aim for and hopefully I can get it sent before I head back to Chamonix next week.
I’m really looking forward to this summer in Cham especially the rock climbing. I really missed climbing last summer whilst I was in London so I’m ready to make the most of it when I get back. I’m also very excited about taking a trip to Kyrgyzstan with a good crew of folk this summer. Hopefully it will restart my greater range climbing with a more manageable trip. More details to come…
For now I leave you with some photos of the past few weeks.
Death Jug Mantle.. Britons toughest V1
Haytor to the left.
Classic Dartmoor bouldering.
The Long Traverse. My happy placein Devon.
The Mighty ferocity wall.. Too hard for me at the moment!
I’ll still have a go at the cider soak! (8a)
The Beach at the Cove. Good for a swim to cool off!
Mark Bullock havin a go at the utterly classic Empire of the sun (7b)
On the Long Traverse (VD).. The Rock is much better than it looks!!
Dave Ferguson on the Redpoint on The Cider Soak (8a)
On my Mums Church roof
I do love the off seasons in Cham.. With the snow pack disappearing and the days growing longer it is the perfect time to split your days into two or more activities. Skiing in the morning and climbing in the afternoon seems to be the best way to do it! With only the most hardcore of mountain enthusiasts left in Chamonix the lifts are quiet and the snow still surprisingly good.
Me Skiing on the North Face of the Gros Rognon. Courtesy of Davide de Masi.
With a lack of work and money and not having a passport to go home to work (until now!) I’ve been enjoying the simple routine of getting up and going out to ski or climb or both. Not managed to ski any particularly special lines apart from skiing the Col du Plan on the North Face of the Midi With Joel Evans and Bird a week or so ago. Joel’s Write up here. Not much to be said about it really. I’ve been wanting to ski the Midi North Face for a while and I finally seized the opportunity and it turned out great. Some icy side slipping at the top awesome powder in the middle and 3 rappels out the bottom.
Dropping into the face
Ripping up the pow!
Go Pro shot
Coming out the Bottom
Smiles all around!
I’m getting pretty psyched for the summer now so I’ve been out getting as much millage on the rock possible to try and jump start the old arms after a long lay off. Haven’t really climbed rock for…. well a long time so its been a shock to the system but persevere I must! My new passport arrived today so I’m getting ready to head back to the UK for a months intensive work which should buy me a few more months of play time this summer!
Ski’s away for the winter! Bring on the summer!!
I get asked a lot by different folk if I’m a mountain guide or if I want to be one in the future. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot in the past few years and with the application deadline around the corner I’m thinking about it again! I’m sure I will be thinking about it again in the future too. I wanted to put some of my thoughts, feeling and influencing factors down to try and rationalise my choice of not starting the scheme yet and to offer an explanation to others too, if they care, which I’m sure most won’t. Perhaps no one cares but hey it’s my blog…my diary… and one day I might look back (as a guide or not) and want to read this. I’d welcome any thoughts or feedback from guides or anyone else in the comments section at the bottom btw.
In Chamonix I often see a lot of folk out and about with some pretty monstrous bags! I rarely take a bag bigger than 30l into the mountains and I often prefer to have a bag around the 25l mark for day tours. What’s goes into my bag? Here’s a basic list of what goes into my bag and some thoughts/ideas on what to take with you when ski touring/mountaineering.
If your a skier you shouldn’t get all excited. I was there to climb! A route with so much mystique both up and down draws the attention after a while…. Especially when it staring you in the face from your balcony! Over the past few seasons I’ve been keen to ski this route but never been here on the really good day’s to drop in. With poor snow conditions abundant in Chamonix right now the appeal of skiing is somewhat dwindling. I really just wanted to go out for a fast solo today and the Mallory route on the North face of the Aiguille du Midi provided me just that….1hour 55mins from the “bergshrund” (the start of the first couloir) to the Snow Cave. Super nice to be moving with almost nothing on my back or harness again and the conditions were pretty good so it made for some fun climbing in some places.
The Mallory on the North Face of the Midi
Never alone on the Mallory…