Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Frendo Spur, Aiguille de Midi

7th July 2007Photo: Me after a good sleep in. The line follows the Route Roughly, however, you cant see the classic Snow section clearly visible form Chamonix


After a week sitting in the tent in the Chamonix Storms the weather started to improve. With all the Snow around we went for a Ice Route, the Swiss Route on the Les Courtes. Getting to the top of the cable car station it seemed the weather wasn't as good as the forecast had suggested, and there was way to much snow up there. We instead climbed the Petit Verte, leaving our sacks and ropes behind.

We returned to valley pretty pissed off about the weather, missing the small weather forecast. We went into town to grab some Wine, and check the forecast. Tomorrow looks great! Looking upto the Frendo from town it didnt seem to be covered in snow. We drank our wine and made plans. We bivied under a bench to save campsite fees. We got up around 6am to catch the "first" cable car at 7am (it was 6am!) We got up to the Plan de Aigillie and under the Frendo for around 8.30am. A nice sleep in really!

The route started well, and we made a quick pace up the snow ramps and rock slabs, not belaying to make up for lost time. Rob took lead before we joined the Spur. He somehow found a nice Aid section, not in the guide, and after a bit on encouragement made the top and belayed me. Our short slings made aiding extremely hard, and i refused to leave anymore gear on this abused face. This involved some free climbing and I rested on the rope quite alot!


The route was covered in loose snow from the days of storms and the cracks full of verglas, making the best handjams feel slippy. The upper section of the route saw Rob wilt a little, so i lead the Crux rock Pitch(IV, or in real money HS). Rob being the better rock climber i struggled and pulled on most things to gain height. This section didn't seem to get any sun and a axe sometimes helped progress.

We reached the Classic Snow Arete around 5.00pm.I swam up the snow, it wasnt as good as it looked! The Snow arete slowly steepened to about Scot III at the top, were party's face the upper rock section. This rock section was plastered in ice, and melting in the evening sun, sending volleys of ice and rock down onto us. During this time the weather had changed and we were now in a true Scottish white out.I lead of Left past the rock section to the more difficult but more direct finish. Our guidebook Gave Scot V, never leading above IV in Scotland, i couldn't comment. The Neve was perfect, every placement was solid. Rob was getting pretty cold so i didnt stop to place any gear and we moved together up the final 300ft.

Getting to the top was a magical feeling, and i made a belay. Rob climbed quickly and didnt complain about the lava in his blood! Arriving at the midi station, around 6.30pm, we had missed the last lift down. The staff at the midi came to greet us, they had be watching our progress. After seeing the state of our sun burnt faces and the fact rob looked like he was about to die, they offered us a bed, and food! We ate like kings, eating the left overs form the day and the best steak i have had in my life! Wine and coffee on tap, i was soon was pissed and the chef practised his "English" with me.

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