Easter trip to Chamonix
- Don’t drop gear - One of the most important rules of climbing alpine routes…
It is Friday morning before the Easter weekend and Gijs and I have travelled to Chamonix for a 4-day climbing trip. Last night we slept in the Argientiere Refuge (2.221m) with stunning views over the glacier and the impressive Aiguille Verte and Les Droites. We were planning on climbing the Couturier Couloir on the Aiguille Verte, but because the conditions were sub-optimal, the guardian strongly advised us to pursue a different climb.
And so we did. At least, so we tried. It’s 0900 and we are standing on the glacier of Aiguille d’Argentiere. 300 meter below us we see our route guidebook and GoPro camera on a flat part of the glacier. One minute earlier both were still in Gijs’ hands. *Oops* This reminds me of summer 2016 when I witnessed both my drinking bottle and ice-screw tumbling a mere 1.000 meter down the face of Pik Lenin. Reminder to self: don’t drop gear.
We decide to go back down to pick-up the guidebook and gopro. Since the approach to the route took much longer than expected, we were already quite late. This is another set-back and now it is too late to start the route and we decide to call it a day. Too bad.
The weather and climbing conditions are not great these days. We were planning on climbing some mixed routes, but the mountains are way too dry (not enough ice) for most of the routes. Also, we have to do with some rare sunny spells, but mostly it is cloudy, windy and snowy. Well, that’s life in the mountains.
The next day we pack our tent & camping gear and take the Aiguille du Midi cable car to 3842m. We want to climb the classic Chèré Couloir, a D+ colour on the Triangle du Tacul with ice up to 85 degrees. After the approach and crossing of the bergschrund, Gijs kicks-off with the first pitch which is not yet so steep. The second pitch it’s more starting to look like it! This is perfect terrain for my Asolo Eiger shoes, which I brought for the first time on this climbing trip! The weather is holding up quite nicely and we continue with 4 more ice pitches. It’s quite clear that this is an often climbed route, because of the ‘steps’ in the ice, which makes the climbing significantly easier. After the first 6 pitches, some easier mixed terrain follows, but after having climbed some 100 meters more, the weather really start to deteriorate. We decide to abseil down the couloir. During our descend we are constantly exposed to spin-drifts coming down on us, which is a good test for my new Mountain Equipment jacket!
Back on the glacier visibility has reduced to 5 meter, whiteout conditions. Great. It is only a kilometre back to our tents, but it takes us more than an hour to find it!
The next day the weather is much better than expected. Still the forecast for today is quite bad, so we decide to climb the short classic Arête des Cosmiques. While normally in summer conditions very straight forward, with a heavy backpack in wintery conditions it turns out to be quite a nice adventure! The funny thing about this route is that it literally ends at the top station of the Midi Cable Car where we are welcomed with a big applause from some tourists. Quite a different location to climb compared to the remote mountains in Kyrgyzstan this summer…
Check out the gear: