Monday, 31 March 2014


The Grands Montets ridge is a pretty cool place to climb! With easy access from the top lift station, these routes have a bit of a cragging feel as well as giving a taste of being on a cold north face. All of the routes I've been on along this ridge have top quality climbing, but the Frendo-Ravanel is definitely my favourite so far! 
A good wade up to the bergschrund... At least there's a track in now!
Questing up into the mixed ground.
After Sam's epic battle up the initial slopes, the unconsolidated powder fortunately changed to bomber neve. The mixed scrambly pitches (and icy chimney) were fun and mellow enough to move together on. We ended up at the first crux much faster than I had expected and suddenly it was my turn to pull a thin, sketchy, ice lead out of the bag... Edging upwards between dodgy hooks and even dodgier gear I finally pulled up onto thicker ice at a much easier angle, phew! Getting congratulated on my efforts at the belay by the nicest ever French Mountain Guide definitely made me feel better for being so terrified!
My new favourite mountain guide opted for the right hand crux, but turned around as it was too thin above.

Sam had a bit of an awkward choice for the second crux: go right over a mixed overhang or try the thinly iced slabby corner to the left. He chose the second option and stormed up it, even though he had run out of rope and had me climbing for the hardest top section. I was pretty glad it wasn't my lead! 

Sam heading up the second crux, which was surprisingly fatter than the first...
Being told by some french climbers that the rest of the route wasn't worth doing and the gear was hard to find we decided to call it a day and head down. After what felt like an eternity of abseiling we were back at our skis. Sadly the ski down was probably one of my worst ever ski experiences. Icy bumps, chomped up pistes and an angry piste-basher driver are not much fun when you are feeling a bit strung out! Still, we eventually made it down in one piece and at least the interesting climbing more than made up for it.
One of about a million abseils...
Hanging out on the north face of the Argentière basin is pretty cool!

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