The route looked good from the bottom with only a few patches of snow about. Choosing to leave our skis midway between the start of the route and the abseil descent (I have climbed the Rébuffat once previously in 2012) and then stomp up the snow was probably a bit of an error. The slope turned out to be pretty well consolidated icy neve which wasn't very pleasant in rock shoes or trainers. Traversing a final snowy ledge saw us onto the actual rock and life got a lot more fun!
|Some snow negotiation...|
|Looking down from my shady pitch to our skis.|
|I was wearing a lot of clothing!|
Getting over the massive bergschrund was a little bit intimidating, it's huge! Very undercut and pretty wide with just a tiny balanced snow bridge to tip-toe across. Most of the initial couloir was uneventful, except for the one slightly steeper ice step where I suddenly got pelted with spindrift avalanches. This was then followed by quite a lot of ice and rock too! This is the main problem with being on an east face in the morning.
Once on the steeper climbing, the ice stopped being quite so soggy. Even though we were dodging loose rocks quite a bit we still thought the route was a goer. Looking up the next steep pitch, I realised that I had used up my bravery for the day in the spindrift avalanches earlier on. Thinly iced rock is not one of my favourite things to climb so I handed my lead over to Sam. Sadly on the 'thick' ice a few metres off the belay his tools were still bouncing off the rock underneath, so we both decided to call it a day and descend. The abolokov thread halfway up this pitch probably should have been a bit of a sign!
|Sam questing up some steeper ice|
|The top few pitches of steeper climbing were pretty thin when you got to them!|