With the relentless baking sun beating down on the glaciers it has become the norm this summer to avoid snow routes. I had not been on the Pyramide before and hearing great things about its east ridge I headed up with Grant for his first Alpine adventure.
Knowing the crux of the day would be finding a good point to get off the glacier and onto the rock we headed up first bin to maximise our time. The glacier has opened up some big holes around the base of the climb and the start looks alot different from the topo i was working from taken just two years ago by Jon Griffith.
We made it onto the rock after a couple of dead ends in the endless crevasses and started up the rock, moving together about 08:30.
The rock is superb and the route finding pretty straight forward, following the odd stuck piece of gear and countless belays. The sun was hot and we were moving fast, just next two another British team of two.
Big holes near the point lachenal
the crevasse minefield
more big holes
shedding weight from my nostrils
grant on some slabby section, Pyramide
Grant moved quick considering he forgot his rock shoes on his first rock climb off the midi, slabs in Scarpa Nepals are not great at the best of times. After 4 hours of amazing cracks, flakes and slab we hit the top. Rapping straight off the summit down the south face we had one rope jam, that came free after some loud cursing, then made quick work getting back to the Panoramic on the Italian side by 4pm. The traverse was made scary by some very wide, very thin melting snow bridges. Not for the faint of heart. Greeted by some Germans in the small bubbles who offered us some much needed water. A great day up high, and nice to escape the crowds of the high street.
Made it to the panoramic
Le Fee des Druide is a 4 pitch rock climb situated on the slab wall directly behind the Aiguilette d’argentiere, 45 minutes walk from the Col des Montets.
The route is in red and continues diagonally left to the start of the grass at the top
It is mostly easy climbing around 5a/b with the first pitch being 5c. Stef and I had attempted this route a couple of weeks ago and had to bail with a crab in a bolt as we didn’t have enough rope for the abails. Surprisingly my crab was still there when we went back!
Me on the first pitch.
Looking back down towards the Aiguillette and Stef on the second pitch.
Some amazing views on offer throughout the route.
After the tricky first pitch you are on mostly mellow slab with a lot of smearing and relying on the grip on your climbing shoes! It is fun climbing and it never feels easy as there is generally not much to hold on to.
To return to the bottom there are 4 rappels that go straight down to the left hand side of the climb.
We used a 50m tag line so that we didn’t have to carry an extra 50m single rope. The first rappel was over a small lip and the tag became stuck so it was my first go at tib locking back up a 50m rope, after freeing it it was back down to continue with the other 3 rappels.
Stef on the 1st rappel, before the rope became stuck!
This route is a great starter for multi pitch climbing you just need to make sure that you are comfortable setting up multiple rappels, if I did it again I would take two light 50m twin or double ropes and just put up with the extra weight on the walk in and out!
Photo’s from iPhone so not great quality sorry.
Having a morning off before work is always good, especially when the sun is out. Me and Stef headed up to the Aiguillette around 10:30am. Parking at the Tre-le-champ car park there is a 45/60 min approach to the crag. It was surprisingly quite even though there as a few people doing a zip line from the top ladders.
We opted to do the classic route on the monolith as Stef had not done it before, 4c. Then after that we did the first pitch of ‘La Fee des Druides’ a 3 pitch route, 5c.
I had climbed a few routes here last summer so had a good idea of what to expect. The Classic route up and over the smaller monolith has a very exposed step over to the larger one, so even though it is a 4c, it is quite unnerving!
Stef came up second then we rappelled down towards the Le Tour side as its slightly overhanging and made for an easier descent. We took a single 70m rope and 10 quickdraws.
The view from the top.
After this route we did the first pitch of the Druides, this rock is realy nice and not polished at all. There are some nice grippy small holds and some committing moves for a 5c. The first pitch is over 35m as we found out and when I was nearing the half rope length I had to come back down with a mallion in a bolt! You have to commit to the 3 pitches to avoid loosing gear, but we didn’t have enough rope for the rappels.
The rock is all great apart from the overused classic routes but this crag is in an amazing location offering some tremendous views and fantastic photo opportunities. Here are a couple from last year!