As I sit here stuffing my face with last nights Lasagna, I feel pleasantly happy with this mornings activities.
When you mention the Chèré Couloir to an Alpinist here they’ll instantly think of the popular classic on the Tacul Triangle. Robert, however, was a busy man during the 70’s and put up more than one route don’t you know ;-). The Chèré Couloir on the Midi north face is threatened by Serac fall for the first 800m (its only 930m) so it doesn’t often get climbed. It stares me in the face from my balcony here in Cham, taunting me with its perfect looking ice. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while and I wanted to do it as fast as I could. Today was the perfect day. The ice looked amazing, I was feeling fit and well rested and after scoping out the Serac from a few different angles over the past week I decided it would probably,hopefully be OK.
The surreal thing about climbing on the Midi NF is that you can leave your house at 8am well fed and rested and, if your quick, be back in Chamonix eating lunch by 1. I took the first bin up to the mid station and slowly made my way to the bottom of the face. I wanted to conserve my energy for the climb as I wanted to take the time from the bergshrund to the ridge. I climbed into the bergshrund before setting of for a relatively safe break before readying the watch and setting off. The route was really cool with awesome Neve almost the whole way (bar some sections of snow) and with some steeper sections of climbing up to about 85° (it says up to 70° in the snow ice mixed guidebook but that’s just not true). I’d say that V 5 would be a suitable grade for it in its current conditions, so kind of on-par with the Ginat on the Droites for both length and difficulty. I breathed a sigh of relief when I came level with the Serac, and after closer inspection it looks relatively stable for the time being but still some possibility of chunks coming away. I powered up the last slope, going deep into oxygen deficit in the last 100m, and collapsed on the flat col at the top. I checked the time and height gain.
930m in 1 hour 42 minutes.
I was pretty psyched and took a breather to try and get my legs back. When I set off I seriously thought I was going to pass out, but I managed to make it up to the station and down to town for some lunch! Hurrah!
Here’s some shots from this morning. Click one to see them all in gallery format.