Monthly Archives: September 2011

Alps

The Grandes Jorasses and Dent du Geant. Photo- Calum Muskett

The Grandes Jorasses and Dent du Geant. Photo- Calum Muskett

At the beginning of August I arrived in Chamonix for a month of alpinism. The summer weather had been appalling in the alps but fortunately a band of high pressure promised more settled weather for August.

I’d only climbed in the alps once before, back when I was still classed as a child on the Aiguille du Midi telepherique and I wasn’t pleased to see that I now had to spend an extra €20 on the cable car! On my last visit with Cumbrian Francis Blunt we mainly rock climbed on the sunny granite towers above the Valleé Blanche and Argentiere Glacier. In contrast to my previous visit I mainly climbed mixed routes this time around.

My first few days were spent sport climbing and bouldering before my climbing partner British Mountain Guide Stu MaCleese arrived. We climbed the popular Rebuffat on the South Face of the Midi as part of our acclimatisation and unusually we had the whole face to ourselves due to the previous day’s thunderstorm. The following evening we walked to the Fourche Bivouac hut on Frontier Ridge which was crammed with people. We left the hut early the following morning happy to escape the suffocating atmosphere of the hut and climbed the ridge to be treated to a beautiful sunrise on the final section of ridge.

Stu MaCleese climbing the Rebuffat Route on the South face of the Aiguille du Midi. Photo- Calum Muskett

Stu MaCleese climbing the Rebuffat Route on the South face of the Aiguille du Midi. Photo- Calum Muskett


Stu looking happy atop Frontier Ridge. Photo- Calum Muskett

Stu looking happy atop Frontier Ridge. Photo- Calum Muskett

Feeling fit and acclimatised I walked back up to Plan de l’Aiguille the evening after climbing Frontier Ridge to bivi beneath the justifiably classic Frendo Spur. I was up early the following morning to solo the route which was in perfect condition, reminiscent of a multi pitch Hard Severe in Britain finishing up a steady grade 3 ice climb. I even made it back down to Chamonix for a late breakfast. A week and a half later two friends climbed the spur following several days of bad weather- the whole route was plastered in snow making it a far more challenging prospect, as I passed them on the cable car I felt happy not to be in there boots!

The rest of the trip went well climbing more classic alpine routes, although I did make a very long and frustrating abseil retreat down the North-East Spur of the Doites due to poor conditions high up on the route, benighting Sam and I on a glacier. The glacier was so awkward to descend that we were forced to abseil off a snow bollard over a serac the following morning! An interesting place to put knowledge into practice!

My parents came out to Chamonix at the end of August for a few days of walking. At the end of their visit we camped at a busy Col Du Midi. The following morning we walked up Mont Blanc du Tacul in fantastic weather where we were treated to fabulous views, it was my mum’s first alpine route!

Sam Simpson climbing on the North East Spur of the Doites. Photo- Calum Muskett

Sam Simpson climbing on the North East Spur of the Doites. Photo- Calum Muskett


Intrepid mountaineers! My folks going big on a via ferrata. Photo- Calum Muskett

Intrepid mountaineers! My folks going big on a via ferrata. Photo- Calum Muskett

After a month’s camping I was happy to return home and with a gap year ahead of me I’ve started to train for some local projects, looking forward to the cooler conditions autumn will bring.