Friday, October 05, 2012

North Face of the Grande Jorasses

I have had a quick hit trip to the Alps this week with my friend Alec. We flew out last Saturday and spent a couple of days walking slowly upto the foot of the North Face of the Grande Jorasses. Plans were temporarily halted by some reasonable quantities of snow and so we enjoyed Sunday night in the remote and wild Leschaux Hut. The following day we moved upto the glacier where we pitched our small bivvy tent at the foot of the face. This slow approach helped the acclimatisation but probably not enough!

An alpine start on Tuesday saw us weaving through the complex crevasses in the dark and picking our way to the foot of the face. We had our eye on a couple of routes but the conditions made the choice for us and we climbed the Petit Macintyre. (TD). This route is 600m long and is entirely on snow and ice, getting progressively harder as you gain height - and get more knackered!

We had waded through deep snow to get to the route and moved together on the easier ground at the start, enjoying nice neve that gave first time placements - unfortunately this was not to last! After about 100m the ice got harder and harder, by the top we were climbing steep glacier ice that was bullet hard. Our calves were screaming and lungs heaving!

We abseiled back down the route using V Threads and returned to the tent after a 16 hour day, just before it got dark.

Unfortunately the Montenvers train was not running as we descended to Chamonix so we had a long walk back to town where we enjoyed a cold beer or two! 

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