Grepon: Mer de Glace 850m D, 5c

It had been a while since I had climbed with Ally and he was keen for something big in this never ending heatwave we have been suffering in. Grepon: Mer de Glace seemed like an obvious choice. A long rock route and after climbing the Frendo a couple of weeks ago, I felt comfortable moving quickly on grade 4/5 rock.

It was our first time in the Envers hut and after a 2:45 hour approach we went to scope out the start of the route so we could be quick to start in the dark the following morning. It was very warm in the refuge, sleeping with the window open and no blanket. Leaving at 4am we walked in and after starting up the wrong route (there were lots of bolts, so we knew we had gone wrong) we quickly joined the proper route and were climbing in t-shirts by 5 am, at 2500m, very warm!

We were quick moving together on the grade 3/4 ground and made the abseil within a couple of hours. Starting up the main ridge line to the summit we overtook another pair of climbers who had a little trouble route finding. After all the warnings in guide books, it wasn’t that difficult to find our way. We started up the ridge on grade 4/5 rock and by now the heat of the sun was hitting us hard. We took 1 litre of water each and just before the summit our water ran out. Leaving our sacks at the breche we started the summit block. The famous Knubel crack, the worlds first 5c. It was hard, Ally struggling for an hour and eventually giving up so we could make it down. I am suffering with a bruised rib and with the painkillers wearing off I didn’t fancy a go. Feeling very annoyed we didn’t summit, 5 meters from the top, we headed down the west face via a series of abseils, wrong abseils, climbing back up then finally finding the actual descent route to the col. Reaching the col with a couple hours until last lift we tried to make a quick descent. The deep sugary snow slowed us down, coupled with multiple big holes we reached the foot of the glacier at 6pm. No chance of last lift.

Ally sprinted off to try and make Montenvers last train at 6:30pm but he had no chance. I slowly plodded my way to Montenvers then descended the train tracks to town arriving at the closest beer dispensary at 8:30pm. 16.5 hours after leaving the refuge.

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Mont Blanc, Brenva Spur

A month ago Tim and I went for a look at the Brenva Spur. Here is what he had to say…

Tim Oliver Alpinist

Mont Blanc’s wild and rugged south side is somewhere I’ve wanted to ski for a while. Whilst the normal ski route on its north side sees the passage of many hundreds of skiers each spring, most skiers stay away from its south side and the Brenva basin. Take a close look at the area and you can see why. The terrain is steep, the exposure is high and the place is littered with unstable seracs. For these reasons many of the lines around the Brenva have seen only a handful of descents and some have never been repeated. The only line to see somewhat regular attempts is the Brenva Spur, the basin’s ‘easiest’ line and one that is comparatively safe. Captivated by the thought of skiing such an aesthetic line in a truly wild setting, last week Joel and I went up to give it a go.

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Mont Blanc’s Brenva basin. The Brenva Spur is the ridge line in the centre…

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