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Rod's Euro 2010 - Trip Report
7:07:27 PM
3/3 Les Ecandies, Vallon d'Arpette/Trient

Called Paul over, he nailed it and finished the pitch before taking a call from his folks at the belay...

...whilst I sussed out the guidebook to see where we were meant to head...which wasn't real obvious. There were meant to be bolts somewhere up the Western side of a nice big golden pillar but I couldn't see them. Finally decided there could be a nice crack system at about 5c/6a that would go on gear so that was where I headed. Lovely orange granite, I get into the first move and spot a bolt, followed by another. Reassuring to be on route...however, they could have left it to go on gear because its a bloody good bit of climbing. Turned out to be a 5c section followed by a slab, then reaching an arete between 2 pillars you can climb a section of seams on gear to reach the top of the big golden pillar. Belay station non-existent and a little low on gear I tied off a sling equalised against a so, so 0.75 Cam. Sitting astride the top of the pillar I called Paul up, enjoying the scenery from the top.

He arrived at the piece of gear below me, I got him to shove another 0.5 Cam beside it and belay me for the down climb. Checked out the belay, re-jigged it slightly and I set off along the ridge for the last 70m. One bit of 5c protectable with an 0.75 Cam and otherwise it was simply a case of finding a nut or sling slot every 10m before reaching the final rap station. Paul arrived, I took a few photo's, set up the rap and down we went. Completely uneventful getting off which was nice.

We were back at the packs around 7:00PM, had a snack and reached the car at 9:00PM. Overall probably lost 1h 15m in route finding/jammed rope recovery but even so its a pretty big day out given the approach.

Some additional route comments: I had 4 slings and could have done with 4 more. Cordelette and knife would have been useful to set up rap stations rather than do some of the downclimbs and ensure the climber on second got to enjoy the views, most of the pillars don't have rap stations and in some cases what is there is tat and badly placed (eg one was wrapped around a loose flake). Good trad skills a must: placing gear, establishing belays, route finding and, though 5c, leave a decent onsight margin as its not a stroll in the park. Route guides available on the web are as good as what we were using, actually they're better as the drawing we had proved inferior to a TR description I pulled from Camp to Camp's website. It's a spectacular setting, calm in our experience as we were the only people on the route, thoroughly recommended.
8:34:59 PM
Six Carro: Vallon d'Arpette/Trient, Alpine, Bolts/Trad, 6b max, 500m of 100% pure granite. 1h 45m 1,000m climb on the approach...perhaps 1h 30m with oxygen mask and great determination for the last bit of the bash.

Organising a Verdon jaunt with Bernard, he had a couple of days free this week so I had responsibility for a climbing plan. After the Ecandies I was pretty keen to get back into this valley so a bit of search turned up Plaisirs d'Automn : 5c, 5c, 6a, 6a, 6b, 6a, 6a+, 6a+, 5c, 5c, 5a/4c, 5b, 5c, 6a. Tops out on the summit of Six Carro which you can just see from the terrace at our place in Branson, I'd always wondered what the potential was on that peak so settled on that for the objective.

Picked Bernard up at 8:15, coffee and the walk in...which gets very steep in the last 45 minutes. He was impressed by this valley, a very keen climber since a very young age, at 53 and well travelled that's saying something. Quick snack and rack up then off we went.

Our route is on the 3 big pillars to the right of Bernard.

P1: First 5c went with a couple of nuts and several bolts, one technical section at the third bolt but otherwise pretty chilled. P2: Bernard got a nice 5c next up with some nice foot/balancy moves onto an arete.

P3: Next 6a is a one or two move wonder. P4: this is where the action and good rock starts, Bernard gets to lead a beautiful orange granite flake which takes up half the pitch. Happy this was bolted because it would have required Big Bros.

P5: crux pitch at 6b, smears and flakes leading into a rising traverse under an overhanging corner. A couple of bits of gear used to supplement existing bolts, very good climbing, not overly physical but quite a good puzzle to get it to go onsight at the grade. Got to the the hanging belay and decided to continue into the next pitch. P6: one nut, a sling and a few clips exhausted the remainder of my rack but the 6a section on knobs was done by then, another nice bit of climbing. Running it out to the belay, rope drag became problematic. End of the first pillar, abseil 25m to join the base of the next pillar.

P7: 6a+, #1 Camalot used before the first bolt, the difficulties were largely dispensed with after the first 15m, afterward the most problems were caused by lichen.

P8: 6a+, Bernard got a nice one here, opens with another giant flake, rusty coloured this time, before a small ledge and a tricky bridging move through an overhang before moving into rounded flakes through to the chains. The crux was reasonably powerful. Bolts mainly, a sling and a nut placement used. P9: first of 2 on nice orange granite. 5c on flakes and knobs before a finishing arete on knobs, very comfortable belay station.

P10: short 5c section takes you to the top of the 2nd pillar, short arete follows with one of those gaps that you have to downclimb into then stem across before restablishing yourself on the next section preceding the chains...quite exposed on second, Bernard could have made it a little less spicy but didn't want to spoil the fun. 15m/20m rappel, P11 at 4c/5a we skipped by walking along the base of the arete to a bolt.

At this point the equippers much have smoked a few cones and drank their remaining beer because the grading interpretation goes down the toilet. P12/13 I did P12 supposedly 5b but more like 4c and easily protected with a sling or 2. Bernard did P13 and with its 3 bolts it seemed overprotected, we settled on 4c for that pitch. P14: “6a” no bolts but a crux section that is protectable with a tied off sling and a few metres later a #1 LinkCam followed by a cruise on small cracks and lichen covered sections where nuts are easily placed every 10m or so, probably 5b.

VERY windy at the tope, 2 x 25m abseils made on one doubled rope to try and reduce the risk of getting the ropes stuck...didn't get them stuck but they went laterally with the wind on the first abseil so I had an interesting time sorting out the mess. Steep, slippery walk off back to the base, saved Bernard when he lost his balance exiting the first couloir, could have been nasty.

Brilliant setting, the first 2 pillars are good climbing on great heavily weathered granite and despite the only moderately interesting summit pitches, the view from the top and subsequent ease of descent through having topped out makes it worthwhile. As has become customary: it ended in beers.

5:05:38 PM
Went to somewhere near Berne (Schwartzee?) yesterday and climbed a green sandstone by the river - surprisingly tough climbing: got up 2 onsight which I guess were in the 6a range and then proceeded to fall out of the crux of the next five routes. Reminded me very much of Bleau with the desperate friction moves to get to the finish, learnt that rock-overs are very much aided by launching the move to be able to generate enough momentum...the hard part being to be able to get the launch happening with your feet so high whilst down palming off polished pebbles. Great fun.

Stoked I did the mountain routes, everything is under snow this morning and autumn colours are emerging.
5:12:42 AM
Been pretty determined on the training front this month and I'm down under 75kg, the lightest I've ever climbed at.

Several posts ago I included a shot of the Radja 8B+ boulder, I was with a crew spotting Fred Moix in action on Radja looks as tough as nails. He worked out the shut down section right at the end of the session so with a bit of rest and the right conditions it's lookin' pretty good; I'll be stoked if I'm there for the send. Fell off a few myself as well but was encouragingly strong on some of the problems I couldn't get up last year and watching Fred was cool because he seems to have the same mental struggles we all do.

More bouldering for me tomorrow, then a couple of rest days and with a bit of cold weather the project pitches might just go on Saturday - I'm hoping a visit from the similarly constructed Regis will help me unlock the bastard things so I can get them done and move on.
2:04:27 AM
Followed the evening at the Branson boulders with a run on the sandstone/pebble boulders at Salvan, a tad slick due to some residual humidity but a quite a bit of rehearsal on some trav boulders that ended up pretty brutal on the tips. Next day was intended to be a rest day but getting wood organised for winter I suddenly realised that the tips weren't hurting, it was drier and that I had a shedload of energy and motivation...back to Salvan to bag a 6C, 6C+ and 7A then put in a couple of working runs on a crimp fest 7B. Sandpapered the fingers that Thursday evening in quite a content mood thinking I'd probably sabotaged the sport route projects for Saturday.

Rest day Friday, tried getting an early night...didn't happen and when I did get to bed I had movement patterns going through my head for what seemed like hours so I didn't get much sleep.

Saturday: fatigue, laid on the couch reading snoozing waiting for Regis...who woke me around 12:00 saying he'd be late. Result, straight back to the couch!

Headed off to the project zone an hour later - onsight route warm-ups in the 6a+ to 6c range then set up the clips on the first overhang face/arete before chucking a warm up lap: first 2 cruxes were a stroll, I was breathing comfortably at each clip move and totally poised..."Regis, getting here in this level of comfort is a first, I'm giving it a shot"...scratch my way through the start of this crux's balancy, palming moves into an overhanging pinch, jamB to the point of drawing blood, pull up on the jamB, lock off, reach high with the left hand to a crappy pinch, cut the feet loose and re-establish them on not much 20cm higher, launch right for semi sloper, pull as hard as I can with the right arm trying to buy time to find something, anything, to use for the left foot, then scrap my way a metre higher before JUST latching the thank God flake...I was pumped to near oblivion from those 3m but with a good minute's shake out available could get the pump back to controllable levels then smear, heel hook and sloper my way through the next few metres to a great set of lateral holds before the final crux cracks. Techniques learnt on the sandstone mantles last weekend were then put to good use: mantle as far up as I can get, latch a side of the crack and layback another couple of overhanging metres before reaching the final launch pocket...smear the feet, pull hard and dyno to the horizontal crack just under the chains. Clipped, sent, stoked.

Lowered off and chalked the key sequences for Regis then sent him off on a lap, he did really well. Got shut down just after the third clip but pulled through and worked his way to the finish then practised the toughest section on top-rope on the way down. 30 minute replenishment break and off he went, nearly fell 3 times but just managed to stick it/recover enough after each major error to bag it after a very desparate tilt through the last section starting with the mantle. He was pretty juiced whilst being lowered off - it's the first time I've decoded something that's hard for both of us and offered it to him, usually its the other way round. He was one happy lad and told me to chuck another lap just for the fun.

Inspired I gave it another run using a more difficult sequence after the jamB section and nearly got it...slightly missed the finger placement on the last crimp and made a nice impression of a 75kg bomb.

I cleaned the pitch and Regis decided we may as well bag the other arete as well - except we didn't. The rock had gotten warm enough to mean a little sweat on the fingers and that lead to lots of falling, swearing and generally looking like the heavy weight old blokes we are being taught a lesson in humility.

We finished the session with some sprint laps up 6a's

Beer and bullshit to bed pretty late.

Today we went to Salvan and bouldered in the forest until the tips gave out, even taping didn't help by the end. It was great to have Regis there, usually what works for him can work for me so we tend to get things done faster when we climb together. So it was today. The 7B came together nicely, most sequences I'd worked out went fairly well for both of us but in a moment of inspiration he improved one sequence through the 4th crux and watching him on the final crux I could see the necessary variation in the foot sequence to compensate slightly for the cooked feeling in the shoulders and hands. Now we both just have to go back relatively fresh on a cold day and link the monster.

Regis has some photo's, if anything decent turns up I'll post it...meanwhile, "up yours!"
8:06:18 PM
Gave the monster boulder problem another spin yesterday arvo...I couldn't be happier that its RAINING today.
2:06:36 AM
2 rest days and I woke up feeling like shit today. Not in line with the forecast it wasn't raining, so I downed a couple of expresso's and a bowl of cereal and headed off to Salvan to get on the monster boulder problem (well, for me it is). REALLY good warm up, a couple of runs in each of the crux sections, nice long rest and gave it a shot. Fell off with 4 moves to go. Another 20 minute rest, got that dreadful shaky trembly feeling right at the wrong moment and couldn't stick the first move of the crux, worse result than round one. Decided on going for a 30 minute stroll, get back and pull back on, nail the lot through and including the first move of the crux and then got the tremble back and missed move 2 of the crux. 10 minute break, 1 move further but same result...FCUK!

It was 2 hours gone by then, on a day when they were forecasting rain. 10 minutes later I decided the best idea was to take a break, go get some lunch, chill out hoping the forecast rain would hold off for a while longer and come back mid/late afternoon when my body occasionally has a tendency to want to climb.

Got back there around 3:30, I was nice and warm from the car trip but the rock was cool with a little breeze helping. Tape the tips to reduce the rock bite problem, liquid chalk, clean the shoes, normal chalk-up, french blow and 30 hand moves later it was done...SO hard to finish the main crux moves which end 2 moves from the finish. Really nice line and its in an anti-style - PB. Stoked? You bet!

Couldn't even manage a 5C traverse on the cool down, I'm spent.

11:09:39 AM
>Really nice line and its in an anti-style - PB. Stoked? You bet!


As I am not a serious boulderer, what do you mean by anti-style?

5:55:48 PM
Davidn got it in one, add the classic long effort redpoint tremble. What makes it hard for me is section 2 and 3 being all the crimpers, smedges and core work after having deployed the amount of power needed for the first sequence. I'm at the point of trembling by the time I reach the real crux. It's just like my usual redpoint issues on routes. Considering that I couldn't do a single one of the sequences a week ago I'm really happy with the outcome.

I'm going to describe it so I can remember it later...warning, if you're not into the infinitely descriptive route description thing then stop reading now, it'll be boring.

First crux opens through an overhang with a big lateral move right to side pull, feet off swing moving legs and hips as far right as you can get, couple of savage cross through moves on quartzite crystal crimpers, set up a deep egyptian then extend out of that into a LH throw for a nice flake. A few big shouldery moves follow through what are relative jugs, just really far apart.

All of that section is in my style but shuts down a lot of lightweights who are good face climbers.

Then it goes my anti-style through a sequence of 6 overhanging crimpers on smedges finishing with a crimpy cross through on smears, fairly physical throughout which drains the core somewhat, then no rest into the 3 real crux moves.

Sets up on what prove to be surprisingly delicate edges for the feet, really difficult to make them as useful as they appear. RH crimper that you have to take not on the first pad but onto the ends of the fingers, then pull a move which ends up with about 90% body weight going onto those finger ends, its a cross through which in my case induces a slight swing away from the crimper just as I'm about to latch the LH two finger crimp in front of my RH nipple. That move shut me down plenty of times, classic redpoint crux issue of just being able to do it fresh but not when you've used a load of juice.

Stick that and reset the core before a long RH reach for a very poor inverse crimp, again with inadequate power you tend to drift away from the face and fall out of the move. If you get it and can bear the fingertip pain whilst having to re-core its just a case of a headbutt/slight pelvis thrust to induce a lunge rightward for another really good first finger pad RH inverse crimp. LF cross behind for external LF smedge, long stem for RF smedge, get the hips right into the wall, upper body as far off the rock face as you dare to eye up the hold then use instinct to launch a rightward 1 hand dyno...latch that and you're a happy man!

2 hand moves on jugs to the finish and a bit of a disbelief sensation.
5:51:09 PM
Fell for a sucker call Friday - lunch in the sun at the base of some easy boulders. 2 hours later completely trashed again. A bit of highball slab stuff to open followed by some nice steep 6A/6B stuff before a suggestion from yours truly that we try and link a sit start 6B into reversing a steep section of 6A+ into tackling a tricky, powerful arete transition into the finishing 7A/B problem which involved a lot of fat slappers before a dyno to set up a nice mantle finish. The transition was killer, lots of falling, finished completely trashed...

Saturday late start but went cragging in a forest setting with Sandra. Shady, steep and sporty: really fun 6a through 7b onsight climbing...could have done with the energy from Friday's foregone rest day :)

Sunday, an exhilarating adventure...separate post to follow once I rescue the photo's from a smashed camera/phone.
1:31:04 AM
Well, just had a pretty good result on the phone/camera front by using a USB cable and some new software to turn it into a slave then transferring all the contact, agenda and pics data across to my laptop, finally syncing that to the new phone. So here we go...

Aiguille Rouges, A Customary Cham Adventure 1/3

On the trip back from the crag Saturday Sandra invited me for a granite route she was doing with Cyrille, I was kinda reluctant but then Cyrille rang her whilst I was driving and asked me along as well. A bit of arm twisting over dinner and finally I agreed to set the alarm but with the caveat that I was already 3rd day on so if I wasn't on time for the 7AM rendezvous they were to take off without me. No dreaming that night I can tell you: the head hit the pillow and the next thing I knew the alarm was banging on at me...shower, double espresso, brekkie, pack a picnic, water, weather check (sunny and warm), dress accordingly and headed off to the rdv to a background of Tool to get me woken up.

7AM RDV spot, they've both just arrived.

Rod, bleary eyed: "Salut! So what are we doing?"

Cyrille/Sandra: "blah, blah, blah, Aiguilles Rouge, sport, 6b/c"

Rod: "Sounds easy enough - harness, chalk, shoes, picnic, water, softshell in case there's some wind, prussic, reverso, couple of slings, Swiss ID, cash, phone/camera, I'll throw in a couple of extra locking biners."

Cyrille/Sandra: "Sunnies, sunscreen?"

Rod: "Check, let's hit the road!"

Over the passes. Blue sky looking like there's a jetstream cirrus build, it seemed very familiar to my first Mt Blanc know, caught on the glacier in a mid-afternoon storm, manage to sneak out as a hole punches into the cloud line, run all the way from there in a desperate effort to catch the last lift down from mid-station only to wave the last one goodbye and have to do the extra 3 hour trudge as the storm proper hits.

Talk focussed on lots of recounting recent efforts and debating whether Mt Blanc is better on ski's or not, take a paraglider or not, blah, blah...hit Argentiere then cruise along to Cham and park as the Caisse for the lift system is prepping for business...made the first lift up, that alone has gotta be a first for me!

1:45 minute walk to the base of the route at Aiguille du Belvedere, I'm stripped to shirt off and shorts within 5 minutes of getting off the second lift's chairs.

The Mt Blanc massif on the other side of the valley was looking pretty spectacular.

1:32:49 AM
Aiguille Rouges, A Customary Cham Adventure 2/3

Got a good a look at our impressive looking face starting from the last 40 minutes of the approach, nice and steep. Starts with 3 pitches heading up vertical from the left side of the right hand snow bank. You can also see a jagged shadow line in the vertical face 1/3rd down to the right of the summit, the last 5 pitches go straight up there and exit through that jagged looking roof system.

Got to the base easy enough, snacked looking at the scenery and were ready to climb before 11AM.

Rod: "Sandra, by the way what's the objective of the day?"

Sandra: "Well its been a long standing objective for me, Cyrille copied the topo..."

Cyrille hands it over: Aiguille Rouges, Aiguille de Belvedere, Baisers Orageux, 8L - 6a, 6c+, 6c+, vire 3 (ramp/ledge), 6b, 6b+, 6c+ roof, 6c+, 6a+ (6c oblig). Granite, Sport.

Rod: "Granite, 6c+/6c oblig, sounds a bit stiff"

Cyrille/Sandra: snickers accompanied by knowing grins that had "3 days on at 7a/b...Rod you're about to suffer" written all over them.

So off we went. Being a team of 3 Cyrille was either leading the whole way or, if we were making good time we'd switch every couple of pitches...I was in full on tourism mode at this stage so I was kind of hoping NOT to make particularly good time.

Easy 6a pitch to start, seemed more like 5b to me. I took a photo of Cyrille from side on in pitch 1, then Sandra took one of both of us with our shiny new hats at the belay, then it was action time with the first serious pitch.

Pitch 2 features a really nice opening pillar, steep and bouldery to start before backing off in angle between bolt 4 and 5 then entering a steep corner system of quite difficult climbing before establishing yourself back to the right side of the corner onto the pillar proper once again. Some more technical face climbing follows then a steep roof system or a slight traverse left into an easier corner system than the earlier corner followed by some bridging and face work before the chains. Cyrille was looking pretty torched from the onsight on the first pillar but got through that and the first corner system before a slump after attempt one through the steep roof system; he then got it after a de-pump and the first serious attempt - overall it looked a very stiff 6c+ to onsight. Sandra went next and dogged the first pillar, the first corner and the roof. I think she did all the moves free though, can't really say because after she got through the first pillar I set off with a bunch of beta. Went OK for me, first pillar was easier than expected, first corner was tougher than expected and I took one up and down run to check the roof before looking left at the adjacent corner and decided that was my solution. I managed to get the pitch done with one slump due to an error exiting the first pillar after bolt 4; pleasantly surprised with my form all things considered.

This is a great pitch, Cyrille's solution would be 7a and mine 6c+, 45m. Turned out this is the crux so if you want the glory, claim this lead - with the beta above you should be able to flash it.

In the last shot in the sequence above you should be able to make out Cyrille silouetted against the arete in the base of the cloud formation. Unfortunately, these are the last shots we got, I crushed my phone in the first corner.

If you're keen on more shots I found this smugbug link from a TR elsewhere on the web:ŕ-lAiguille/13214885_Yy2mP#959501782_aBZxb
1:35:43 AM
Aiguille Rouges, A Customary Cham Adventure 3/3.

Pitch 3: 6c+ but frankly I don't rate it that hard and its just a question of style - if you're good on pockets and flakes through roofs the hard bit is done just after bolt 4; the rest is maybe 6a/6a+, 40-45m. Good fun pitch atypical of granite so if you need an ego boost opt for this one. Everyone bagged this one onsight after a good fight, except that I didn't - expecting a decent fight through the crux that didn't come, I fell asleep before missing an obvious crimp later on.

Pitch 4, 40m wide ledge...became more interesting later in the day. A cloud system had moved into the valley from the SW, made the scenery pretty dramatic. We discussed and settled on keeping an eye on it but at least having a crack at nailing the next 3 pitches. I put my softshell on.

Pitch 5: best 6b of the year, awesome vertical face climbing on small flakes and single pad half crimps/open hand holds. Everyone bagged this one. I froze whilst belaying Cyrille and Sandra before seconding the pitch.

Pitch 6: second best 6b+ of the year, similar style with a nice crux and little more run out into the last 10 metres finish at 6a+. Everyone bagged this one. Sandra and I froze whilst belaying Cyrille before seconding the pitch. Weather was looking more suspect.

Rod: "Cyrille, do you reckon this system is coming earlier than forecast?"

Cyrille: "Yep, might have enough time though so lets get this pitch done and then decide."

Sandra/Rod, after 2 minutes of pissing around getting the belay reorganised: “Allez Cyrille!”

Pitch 7: seemed like the crux, nice big roof system to overcome with some nice technical face climbing before and after. Cyrille got about 4 bolts in when Sandra and I noticed the first rain drops; it eased off. Cyrille dealt with the technical face climbing really well, got into the roof system which after a few metres traversing using a ledge, smears and underclings turned into more of a corner problem. He then established himself under and around the right hand of the roof/corner to get into the adjacent face to the right. Delicate moves to the chain and he'd onsighted it pretty easily really. Sandra off first, I seconded allowing a 4 bolt spacer between us. Sandra was under the roof system by the time I got to bolt 4 and then ran into trouble unclipping the last quickdraw before the corner, cost her the flash second and meanwhile I was trying to find a rest point amongst the crimpers to give her time to get out of there.

Whilst waiting it skipped rain and started snowing!

In my shorts and really light clothing I had to laugh. Watching it happen I noticed that the face stayed drier and with any luck at least if it kept snowing I might not get as soaked.

Sandra finally dogged her way out of there and I seconded through the roof system into the corner - really easy once you got past the face climbing - then made the spectacular move onto the face adjacent the right hand of the corner. I can remember thinking..."I'd rather be leading this safety wise" I pulled around to face looking out into space through the reach move to the arete but found it fairly easy to get established onto the face.

Meanwhile, being protected by the 3 or 4 metre roof system, I was totally unaware the weather had turned again to hail. I was shocked to discover as I pulled onto the face that it was soaking and pretty cold. Warm from effort, I was pretty keen on the flash second but the other two were having none of it...


just 5 metres to the chains and my fingers were frozen.

Thinking the other 2 must be in an even worse state of cold than I whilst rigging the rap, I forcefully changed the knot to ensure an overhand back up to an eight then warned of the risk that the rope would freeze in place so we'd better remember which colour to put the team effort into. Cyrille went first, I urged Sandra down second, double checking her rig first, then I rigged mine making sure that everything stayed connected to a draw rather than risk dropping prussic or descender in a frozen finger fumble.

Rap 1 went OK, heavy friction though. I pull orange...nothing. "OK, all pull orange." Just a little movement. Tug of war ensued and progress was slow, friction from our very wet out of range blue having put one wrap around our very wet orange. Finally get it down and the end of the blue slugs me in the face whilst free falling past us.

Rap 2 went OK, again heavy friction and a horrendous pull.

Rap 3 went OK, even heavier friction and we're talking a full body weight suspended in mid-air rap. Luckily for me Cyrille and Sandra would have been de-icing the cords through them rapping first but on this rap I copped a soaking from the reverso squeeze drying the ropes. Looking down during the rap the vire/ramp had turned into a reminder of a Joe Simpson shot from the North face of the Eiger during a storm (minus the equivalent rock fall, thankfully).

Rap 4 or rather, traverse across a waterfall/ice combination granite/lichen ramp. Shivering convulsions preceded my run across this as a fast body/brain numbing started installing itself while the others struggled their way across. When my turn came it was my hardest pitch of the day followed directly by a solo tug of war with a frozen rope that had me pretty much spent.

Rap 5 preceded by shivering fits and double controls of both Cyrille and Sandra before they rapped. I rigged up, checked and quadruple checked before committing to the rap. Finally committing, I slipped on a lichen/hail combo to face plant straight into the rock/hail bank. The first 10 metres were a rinse and repeat cycle of similar comedic rehearsal before getting to beyond vertical face and hence safer ground. Nice 40/45m rap this one...the lower level of the face had less ice and wind. Got to the belay to find two numbed compatriots.

Rap 6: another rope friction pull that had me close to exhaustion and finally Cyrille could commit to the rap.

Cyrille: ...20 metres down peering into the rain mist..."I think we might make it"...30m..."I really think we might make it"...40m..."hey, we'll definitely be on terra firma"...45m..."FREE!"

Sandra: gleeful, blue, quadruple checking, problem.

Rod: cold, shivering convulsions and fumble conscious. Prussic, Reverso, check that biners are locked, weight didn't make it through the Reverso! Repeat, commit - get a little colder and wetter but touch down with great relief.

I pull the ropes and unleash about half a tonne of loose rock that topples onto the snow bank right beside us; gleeful at not having to climb up after the blue that was otherwise snagged, I was beyond caring.

Time check - 18:00. Those raps cost us big, a 1:30 descent was now a full descent to Argentiere of maybe 3/3.5 hours. Luckily it stopped raining, we saw some mountain goats (bouquetin and chamois) on the way down, my wet gear resulted in a cowboy style walk by the time I got to the bottom but at least we were walking, the descent warmed us up and it was an autoroute of a mountain path. Lightning and thunder pealed as Sandra and I got to about 200m above Argentiere. By then Cyrille had wisely given up on us being protective of our knees and run ahead, hitched to the carpark in Cham and returned so we could then just throw the gear in the car and go straight to a restaurant. Cyrille, thanks in advance...10 years from now I hope it'll be a pleasant memory induced by your knee pain.

9:15PM we finally sat down, ordered a bottle of Bordeaux red and looked out the window as the storm proper hit, loads of lightning and rain.

Sandra: “6c+ granite, maybe it was a little pretentious of me. It's nice to be indoors watching that right now.”

Late trip home scenario, trying to keep each other awake and driving alert...


3:42:06 PM
Nice epic Rod.
Loss of feeling due to cold can be quite debilitating...

How do you reckon dry-treated ropes would have gone in that situation?
4:46:32 PM
g'day m9!

we were using cyrille's ropes, the only other situations that i've been caught in downpours using my own ropes there's not been anything close to that kind of friction and mine aren't dry treated. maybe it was the temps.

anyone out who's rapped with ropes on the verge of being frozen had similar friction?

the descent must have been pretty physical because i've still got sore muscles from what can only be the rapping and tug of war. feeling a few more tweaks than usual today, will give it a lash later on but i think it'll just be trying to remove a few kinks rather than anything resembling performance.
10:08:04 PM
Off to Verdon for 5 days next week after a work trip - any recommendations on recently bolted routes 6a-7a?

Went to Virage 19 yesterday, new to me: dangerous amounts of rockfall coming over the top from what we assume were mountain goats higher up above the face. Once the kinks and heeby jeebies were gotten out of the way things went surprisingly well, did a nice complex one in the 6a+/6c range (don't really know the grade, seemed pretty hard) then we got onto the 7b of the day. First run feeling it out got it down to 1 near shut down crux, spent another run giving that section a bit more effort then the last one not sending but having made really good progress...don't think I'll get it in this trip but it was one of the more pleasant 7th grade climbs of the year. My partner for the day will definitely bag it on the next fresh run, climbed it really well.
9:42:05 AM
On 16/09/2010 rod wrote:
>Off to Verdon for 5 days next week after a work trip - any recommendations
>on recently bolted routes 6a-7a?

Bauchet on the South side is a great little single pitch crag perched high on the rim and would be worth a day or two. Some nice routes in the range you are after. Madame Reve 6c, Apiclimber 7a. Though the steep Tufa lines such as Rattlesnake 7b and less steep but bouldery Come les Destins Conduisent 7c are worth getting on.
4:48:40 PM
Thanks Dalai! It's been a while since those big Verdon faces, pretty amped - I'm like a little kid before his first post in a week or so.
5:54:24 PM
If you want the big Verdon faces, Bauchet isn't for you. Although the crag is perched high, there is a large treed area between you and the rest of the drop into the gorge. So no exposure, just some quality single pitch routes...

6:07:50 PM
La Demande is worth a go. Bring your trad rack. The guidebook is very pretty, lots of photo topos. But no descriptions or stars so you have to ask around. We found you can't go wrong by climbing the routes that share the same name as each sector.

Bauchet is nice, but it is not really what you go to the verdon for.

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