Monday, 26 July 2010

American Direct

Well cold. A 4O'clock start meant the face was really cold. We simuled the first ten or so pitches, which normally would have been fine, but the face was verglassed, so pretty sketchy.

A couple of Canadian guides backed off near the terrace and we should have probably too, but stoked for the tick, we got a fair way up. We managed all the crux pitches but then chris ended up taking a 25 metre fall off a layback crack a bit off route.
I was cold and talked Chris into a retreat. A few sketchy abs led to the terrace and the beautiful bolt belays. Most horrendous, but a bon alpine-feeling route in utterly ridiculous nick.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Chamonix Aiguilles So Far

Mingulay
The weather out in Chamonix at the moment is really hot. Too hot for anything in the valley and walk ups to the plan have to be attempted either very early or very late. A lot of people seem to have just sacked off their objectives, which are mainly snow-conditions based, but we've managed to get up to the aiguilles a fair bit.

The first day was the usual harsh introduction to alpine ascent, with a 1,500 metre walk up to the L'M. We managed to do the classic Menegaux with a direct finish which involved an aid pitch through a roof- most bon.

Our second trip up to the Aiguilles was a little more pleasant, with a 5 O'Clock start and nearly 2,000 metres of ascent, climbing the modern classic 'Majorette Thatcher'. It was a bit of a challenge I had my eye on as a few mates had had a go on it a couple of years ago and failed to climb the entire crux pitch free and onsight. The Roof is quite tricky! A really nice route at about E3 I reckon.

A bivy back down on the plan aloud us to stock up on Cous Cous before the next day's thrutching on 'Les Diamants du President' and a quick go on a route graded ABO- to the left of the Majorette. We didn't know what the route was, as we had no guidebook, but the line is pretty obvious- following a crack rising out of a strange juggy dish feature. There were a few bolts here and there and I followed some up a blank wall directly below the dish, but apparently the route followed a flake on the right. I eventually fell off near the top anyway, but was a bit disappointed to see that the direct version wasn't recorded anywhere. It was quite thin, moving up granite crystals.

So a first week in the alps has provided a bit of cragging in the Aguilles, dodging thunder storms and getting used to Granite climbing. A bit of research has also revealed that the west face of the blaitiere has lost a lot of routes and the Fou is unapproachable apart from via the Midi. I'm not really very stoked to use the Cable Cars, so we'll have to see if there is a way to approach it from elsewhere. Bon Bon.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Kepwick Groove Musings and The Alps 2010

The Hypocrisy of Moose seemed like a major route and a serious undertaking at the time, and it was. With one hard move above marginal gear, but with a limitted physical and dangerous aspect. In hindsight, I reckon the gear (placed well) would probably hold on the moose, but due to the difficulty of the move, I reckon it will probably stay as a classic moors H7.

Comparing this to the Kepwick groove scares me. When I topped out on 'The Moose' I felt like I could have soloed it, which is good, as the crux of the groove is about as hard as the moose and above a lone Skyhook. Unlike 'The Moose' though, the groove has a lot of difficult climbing before the crux, which is sort of worrying. There was no worry about pumping out on the Moose, but a lack of juice for the final move on the Groove would leave you trusting the skyhook above an extremely serious fall. I'm starting to understand the difficulty of headpointing now- I can do the moves, but it's a big commitment to set out on a route where you can't hang about for rescue.

It will all have to wait now anyway. Tomorrow is the start of mine and Dooge's grand voyage to the Alps and we're pretty stoked. Dingey Kepwick will be swapped for sweeping granite features, good food, mountains and hopefully some sun. Chamonix is guaranteed to be amazing once again and i'm stoked for some ace routes. I'm not even that concerned with pushing the boat out, just getting on some amazing routes with cool people and cheap baguettes. Peace.