Monday, 26 August 2013

A lesson in failing (and route finding!)

Giving a new Choucas harness and lanyards a whirl; liking the ice screw holders.
Its easy to get used to mountaineering success. A couple of summers ago I had a very unsuccessful Alpine summer, although it did mean that I got a lot slicker at abseiling! This spring/summer in Chamonix has been an extremely succeson a route, we haven't backed off it. Although a few times we have changed to plan Bs, once we've started a route we haven't backed off. Until the South Ridge of the Peuterey Noire that is!

With Hannah developing food poisoning we were a man down and a day later than planned. So Sam and I went for our classic 'single push from the car' approach to alpinism... But this time we took enough food and kit for an (uncomfy) bivvy. We also took more than 1.5l of water between us! Finally learning from past mistakes and all that!

The walk in, complete with scrambly via ferrata, went well and fairly fast. We were gearing up for the start of the climb, by the fixed rope, just afterw the sun reached the bottom of the face. The climbing was pleasant and easy, although the grassy ledges were more numerous than we had reckoned on. We were climbing really fast, simul soloing as there wasnt a lot of gear to be had. 

Turns out we were climbing a little too fast though as suddenly we pulled up over the ridge and had a lovely view onto the Freney glacier. Definitely not where we should have been! We had been following tat and had made the terrain fit the guide description, we had totally missed the rightwards traverse under point gamb! Some fantastically sketchy downclimbing abseiling followed as the tat anchors definitely werent good enough to fully weight! It was 10am by the time we were back on route; too late to start again and not bivvy. Although I had accepted the inevitability of an uncomfy bivvy, Sam was more psyched for a single push so we wisely decided to head back down rather than pushing it.

From a distance, we stopped to figure out where we had gone wrong. Turns out that the 'triangle feature' described in the guide wasnt a pinnacle but a HUGE white shape on the cliff! In full daylight it was so obvious yet in the pink dawn light we missed it completely! Least we will know where not to go next time!

As I wanted to leave Chamonix on a high note, I went up the midi the following day to get in some pre-work soloing. As I got stuck in queues and nearly killed by falling rock on the Lachenal (avoid the last chimney/couloir! !!!) I decided against doing the Grisolle aafterwards and finished up the Cosmiques arete instead. Even though I once again got stuck in queues, I did the route surprisingly fast. I didn't feel particularly restricted by having 2 nomics, crampons and 120m of rope in my bag! Can't believe I have been scared of soloing this route all winter. I also got to test out some of our lovely new Blue Ice kit, so all in all an amazing final day in thelp Chamonix mountains!
Too high On point Gamba!


Red is where we went, green where we should have been!

Back to the french side and the good old Lachenal.

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