I must admit that my absolute least favourite month in Chamonix is August. Its super busy, super hot and the Glaciers are usually at there most open making getting around in the mountains dangerous and tedious. Strange that its also the most prolific time for alpine climbing with ques on all the popular routes and big routes seeing rare ascents (like Calum Muskett and Paul Jenkinson on Divine Providence, good effort lads!). I however have been working…… working some more and occasionally getting out for the odd rock route in the Aiguille Rouge on my lunch break or a sport climbing session in the baking heat. This is all soon to change and its been great to get out in the past week and rack up some millage…..
I had a super fun day on my own climbing routes around the Col Du Midi on wednesday. I started in my typical third bin fail way and headed straight over to the traverse of Pointe Lachenal to kick things off. After this I headed up the Contamine/Grisole on the north face of the Triangle Du Tacul which was in really good condition and gave me the first chance in a very long time to use my nomic’s which made me very happy indeed. The normal route on the Tacul looked like one giant windslab so I opted for the Chere Couloir rapels to get back to the col. The Chere had a few teams in it and Jeff Mercier and his partner were climbing the Perroux Gully (just to the left of the chere, see Jeff’s blog here) so I was being peppered by ice on the way down, as to be expected. I had originally wanted to solo the Chere but decided against it due to the ice that was coming down so headed over to other side of the col and started up the short section (not sure what its called) of ridge that finishes at the Cosmiques Refuge. Unbeknownst to me you have to take your boots off and walk through the hut to get to the start of the Cosmiques Arete proper. I got some funny looks from people sunning them selves at the hut terrace as I less than gracefully took my boots off and flopped over the railings. I also got momentarily lost finding the way out of the hut which in hindsight is pretty funny, but in my defense I had never been in there before! I hadn’t been up high for a while (maybe three weeks) and the altitude really hit me when I started to climb the initial slope up the Cosmiques Arete so I was suffering hard on this part of the day but I finished off my journey in a 6 hour round trip feeling like I had had a pretty good work out!
Thursday saw me and Ally head out to Gietroz, an amazing sport climbing venue just up the valley from Chamonix for a leisurely half day working on Reve de Senge a super classic 8a which I have wanted to get on for a while. I was surprised how well I got on with it and I hope that I can finish it off before I head out to the Himalayas this autumn, fingers crossed.
Today I headed out with Mike Thomas for a fair well Aiguille Rouge climb-a-thon (the Flegere lift system closes after this weekend) that saw us climb a total of 1000m of excellent quality rock up to 6a including such classics as the south ridge on the Index and Manhatten on the Lower Bastion of the Grande Floria.
All in all a fun week had by all and psyche is very high for this coming period!! With less than 6 weeks left before we depart for Nepal its high time it got cold so we can all get out and play on the north faces!
Current Conditions Chamonix side
After the big snowfall of last week the north faces are looking a bit fresher but more snow wouldn’t go a miss. The Colton/Macintyre, Shroud and Croz/Slovienian all look pretty good right now so as soon as it gets cold would be worth a go. The Desmaison/Gouseault could do with more cover lower down but you could nip in from the top of the Shroud crux. Not sure about harder routes on the Jorasses right now.
Not much ice in the Cham Aiguille north faces or the Tacul East Face Goulottes. The top of the Droites looks good but I haven’t seen the bottom of the face so can’t comment on whether its possible to do the Ginat or Colton/Brokes etc right now (anybody been up there?). The Tacul Triangle is pretty good right now as is the North Face of the Tour Ronde. Not enough ice on the Midi north face right now but too much to make the Frendo not viable.
All the south facing rock is clear enough and its fairly warm so the Envers Des Aiguilles would be OK still. Not sure about the Italian side of the Massif right now. Any reports of the Grande Pillar d’Angle north face would be welcome as I’d personally like to climb it this autumn!
Hope this helps. Feel free to message me about routes your interested in and i’ll try and help you out or point you in the right direction.