vendredi 16 janvier 2015

Dru Couloir Nord Direct

Cet automne on a pu bénéficier de conditions exceptionnelles pour les face nord.
 Quasiment tout le monde s'est concentré sur la face Nord des Jorasses mais d'autres itinéraires sont encore vraiment au top en ce  moment. Le couloir Nord direct du Dru est une ligne majeure.
 Tout d'abord il s'agit d'une goulotte vraiment raide ce qui est assez impressionnant.
 Les rocher y est tantôt excellent tantôt suspect ,la glace toujours verticale est même dans ces conditions pas abondante parfois tout juste pour s'elever en serrant un peu les fesses.
 Quand Sorenson et Accomazzo ont fait la première de cette voie très audacieuse en 1977  lors d'une été référence en matière de mauvais temps un peu comme celle qu'on a traversé en 2014,la voie était quasiment entièrement couverte de glace.
 Manque de bol cela ne faisait que 6 ans que le piolet traction était apparu dans les Alpes et le matos n'était pas à l'hauteur de celui qui a permis les belles réussites en glace dans les années 80/90,
 ce même matos lui même très inférieure à celui qu'on a utilisé pour cette répétition en 6h de la voie. Bref leur matos faisait pitié et la voie est vraiment raide.
Ces deux Américain étaient connu pour leurs prouesses en rocher mais lors de cette ouverture ils prouvent si jamais le fallait leur niveau de compétences en matière Alpine.
Ils nous pondent une voie en un jour et demi,cotations: 90 degrés en glace et quelques mètres de A2 (quelques mètres sur 700 de voie).
Ensuite la voie tombe aux oubliettes, cependant le couloir Nord devient classique grâce à la quantité de pitons presente dans les longueurs rocheuses et des passages en glace pas dépassant les 80 degrés.
Bizarrement le directe fut peu ou pas parcourue.
Depuis l’éclosion du dry tooling avec les voies Jasper et Haston en montagne une possibilité qui venait de s'ouvrir aux grimpeur était celle de éliminer les portions de escalade artificielle sur les grands itinéraires Alpins. Evidemment le couloir Nord direct était l'un des objectifs les plus évident et c'est ainsi que la première en dry ce cette ligne fut attribué à Jeff Mercier accompagné par Philippe Batoux en 2004. Cette ascension fut mené en conditions séches. Ensuite quelques années plus tard fut completé par les Slovènes Lukic, Grmovsek qui cotèrent la voie WI6+ M8.
 Il s'agit la des cotations très élevés que l'on retrouve plus souvent dans des voies extrêmes à Fress ou à la Breitwangfluhe. Il faut dire que les premières voies qui se sont vu attribuer une cotations mixte comme par exemple les voies Haston proposaient des côtes à partir de M6+ or ces voies repetés dans des conditions correctes ne presentent pas de telles difficultés.
Il suffit de prendre en exemple le M7 de Late to say i'm sorry une voie qui a eté repeté des dizaines des fois dans des conditions décentes et dont la difficulté est d'un niveau et demi inférieure. Forcement ceux qui n'ont pas pu grimper beaucoup de voies de mixte reference ont eu du mal à comprendre cette échelle de difficulté en montagne.
 Il y a aujourd'hui beaucoup de confusion et certains itineraires comme le Couloir Nord direct et la Gabarrou Silvy coté respectivement M8+ et M9 dans le livre topo de Batoux sont des exemples d'un grand n'importe quoi en matière de cotations, on peut dire la même chose de la Lesueur coté M8+ par Steck.
 Cela est du à plusieurs facteurs le premier étant que un grand nombre de voies de mixte à été ouvert alors que la voie n'était pas en conditions.
 Il faut dire aussi que certaines voies raide en coincement de lames avec des prises de pieds inexistantes sont beaucoup plus dures à gravir avec les piolets des années 90.
Ensuite il y a le facteur mode les côtes semblaient être comme une sorte de calendrier chinois à la place de l'année du Serpent nous voila avec l'année du M7  ainsi  dés que l'on effleure un caillou par manque de glace on attribue la fatidique côte.
Puis à force de se foutre de la gueule du monde un Slovène qui à jamais fait un mètre de dry dans sa vie s'approprie de cette côte pour un solo d'une parois de 4000 mt en Himalaya.
 Du coup l'année d'aprés c'est l'année du Chien ,au faite, du M8 et c'est ainsi que quiconque se voit affronter la dure tâche d’aligner deux mètres de réglettes peu espacés avec un bon vide sous les fesses nous voila avec un bel M8 des familles.
 Du coup c'est un peu con à dire mais la verité est la entre M5 et M8 en montagne il y a que très peu de différence tant les côtes ont eté posé à l’arrache.
Pour ce qui est de cette voie je me vois mal à conseiller de prendre des étriers à qui ne fait pas de dry de haut niveau. Bien sûr c'est difficile et parfois un poil engagé si on a pas l’œil pour se protéger mais ça reste de difficulté honnête en tout cas c'est pas plus dur que l’itinéraire classique pour ce qui concerne le mixte. Les parties en glace sont parmi les plus raides du massif mais ça reste de la glace et de bonne qualité bien protegeable.
Avec Martin on a voulu grimper une nouvelle fois ensemble après notre ascension de la directe de l'amitié italo espagnole.
Il me propose le Couloir Nord mais je l'ai déja fait avec Tomas Muller et j'ai donc lancé l'idée d'aller au Directe.
Une sortie au préalable à la petite Verte histoire d'emmener deux Pépites dans la voie dite la Pépite me permet de jeter un oeil à la voie qui à tout l'air d'être en condis.
Bien motivé à profiter de la trace de Simon et Andrea partis le soir même on prend le luxe de partir avec la première benne. Le manque de neige de cet hiver nous pousse à choisir un approche léger sans skis il faudra tout de même revenir au Grands Montets après l'ascension.
Une heure et demi après nous voila aux pied de la bête, très vite on avale les premiers 250 mètres et on s’équipe pour le début des hostilités.
Martin se charge d'attaquer une longueur et demi après je prends la relève en lui promettant de lui rendre le matos une fois rejoint le couloir supérieur.
On rejoins la cordée Andrea-Simon le leader mal engagé dans le crux,on l'incite comme on peut à toute voix en l'appelant Giancarlo maestro de la glace à l'Italienne mais Giancarlo en chie comme pas possible. En sa défense il grimpe avec une paire de piolets espagnols à manche quasi droit, peut_être pour se rapprocher se son maître spirituel aux bandana-moustache la terreur des glaces des 80's, il fini tout de même sa longueur il confirme lui la cotation des premiers ascensionnistes A2. Je pars dans la longueur demente surmonté d'un bombé de glace au sommet de ce crux je récupère Martin puis je pars vers un dernier mur glacé, Martin me suggère de tirer une grande longueur et je l'ai pris à la lettre. On se revoit trois cent mètres plus haut à la brèche des Drus plus que content d'avoir réussi dans la difficile tache de me débarrasser de l'ensemble de mon jeux de friends,broches,et câblés une sorte de Scrabble appliqué à la haute montagne.
La descente on regroupe nos deux cordés des frères et peu à peu on redescend la voie en rappel, petit entrainement d'abalakow et quelque morceaux de cordelette pour remplacer les vieux et nous voila en bas prêts à remonter au Gd Montets.











Patagonia 2014

Per questo viaggio in Patagonia il terzo per me ero stato avvisato, quest'anno a causa di El Nino la meteo rischia di essere poco clemente. Per fortuna quest'autunno sulle Alpi, é stato davvero ricco di scalate, é quasi con un sentimento di sollievo che mi reco nel posto al mondo dove piu si rischia di avere un sacco di tempo per riposarsi. L'importante in Patagonia é di avere tanta fame e dopo una decina di giorni passati a osservare incredibili tempeste di vento ci decidiamo a tentare la sorte grazie alla promessa di una notte serena e senza vento all'avvicinarsi di un ennesima perturbazione. Con la speranza di appena qualche ora a disposizione, adattiamo i nostri progetti e ci dirigiamo verso la bellissima e classica Poincenot. Con i miei amici e colleghi Guide di Chamonix Damien Tomasi e Pierre Labbre e Robin Molinatti Guida di La Grave partiamo leggeri e motivati a scalare rapidamente.
Dopo qualche ora di riposo nella foresta passiamo la notte a recarci ai piedi della montagna ed attacchiamo alle prime luci del mattino. La meteo sembra eccellente, con solo qualche nube in agguato, ma le previsioni sono chiare a partire dalle 9 la perturbazione si parcheggia sul massiccio per diversi giorni. Come spesso in Patagonia scaliamo con il sentimento che ogni minuto guadagnato potrebbe essere quello che fa la differenza tra un successo e la beffa. Alle 8 del mattino siamo in vetta nel bel mezzo di una classica tormenta Patagonica.
Scendiamo con precauzione e ritroviamo con pazienza la via di discesa sul giacciaio nel maltempo. Tutta la discesa sarà annaffiata da continui rovesci, la giornata sembrava cosi bella all'alba...ritorniamo al Chalten bagnati come pulcini e ben affamati.
Al Rio Blanco cazzeggio prima della partenza notturna
Sei ore dopo sulla Rampa Whillans tutto l'avvicinamento alle spalle
Sembra che sia una bellissima giornata quasi ci crediamo
Diverse nubi dall'aria inoffensiva giungono da ovest 
Due ore dopo siamo in cima (a qualche metro)la rapidità ci ha permesso di sfruttare la minuscola finestra
Eppure sembrava essere una bella giornata sono solo le 9 del mattino ma pioverà tutto il giorno
Un'attesa di una settimana che ci fa temere che el Nino avrà la meglio sulla nostra pazienza ed ecco apparire la possibilità di un paio di giorni di tempo eccellente! Infine si puo sognare, tutto il massiccio ha ricevuto davvero tanta neve e bisognerà scegliere con cautela un itinerario che non sia impraticabile a causa della quantità di neve che incrosta le pareti. Penso che il lato Ovest del pilastro Goretta al Fitz Roy possa offrire delle buone chance di riuscita e convinco i miei compagni Damien e Pierre, a provare.   
Questa salita mi ha fatto sognare da tanti anni e siamo tutti molto eccitati mentre saliamo a bivaccare al luogo detto Piedra Negra un insieme di piazzole piu o meno riparate dal vento a due passi dal ghiacciaio che raggiungiamo in 5 ore dal villaggio.
Partiamo alle due e mezza del mattino come al solito molto leggeri prendendo il minimo indispensabile. Alle sei del mattino siamo pronti a scalare fa molto freddo e le fessure verticali sono ben piene di neve. Per diverse ore lottiamo contro il freddo finché infine arriva il sole a riscaldarci e ci riscalda eccome! i piedi gonfiano in un attimo e il dolore ai piedi rimpiazza il freddo. Rimpiangiamo le scarpette da vie lunghe che abbiamo lasciato al campo Niponino sotto il Torre, le scarpette da falesia pur essendo perfette per gli appigli piu piccoli non ci rendono la vita facile difatti la via segue una serie infinita di fessure dolorose. Il problema su queste lunghe vie di roccia é rappresentato dal peso dello zaino che contiene acqua, materiale da bivacco, scarponi, ramponi e picozza,pur avendo scelto tutto cio che si fa di piu leggero resta un peso considerabile per arrampicare su queste difficoltà.
La nostra preoccupazione tanto per cambiare era di salire il piu in alto possibile sul pilastro il primo giorno che di solito, da queste parti  é il giorno sul quale si possa fare piu affidamento per quanto riguarda il bel tempo, la possibilità di prendere una perturbazione in alto sulla via non é davvero allettante allora tanto vale andare veloci. Raggiungiamo la cima del pilastro dopo una ventina di tiri, alle dieci e mezza di sera poco prima del calare della notte, le giornate patagoniche hanno il vantaggio di essere molto lunghe... Un vento gelido si leva e rimpiango rapidamente di non avere preso nient'altro che la mia giacca in piumino per bivaccare. Il mattino seguente porta nuvole e temperature rigide e fatichiamo a scaldarci. La parte alta della salita é ben incrostata di neve e con questo vento non é molto invitante. Aspettiamo qualche ora, cosa insolita ma per fortuna dopo le ore piu fredde l'ipotesi di arrampicare ci sembra gia un po' più comprensibile. Scendiamo in doppia una cinquantina di metri e ci portiamo ai piedi della parete superiore.
Diversi tiri di roccia difficile e coperta in parte da incrostazioni ci separa dalla vetta  che raggiungiamo ben felici alle due del pomeriggio. Il tempo appena di ammirare il paesaggio fantastico dal Murallon al San Lorenzo e l'immensità dello Hielo Continental  ed eccoci attaccare la parte cruciale della nostra avventura, la discesa da questa bestia di montagna. Con cautela scendiamo in doppia lungo la via Francese e con molto sollievo raggiungiamo il ghiacciaio con qualche ora di luce a disposizione prima della notte e l'arrivo di un'altra perturbazione. Un'altra stupenda avventura si conclude. Aspettiamo gia con ansia la prossima.  


Al cospetto del lato ovest del pilastro Goretta dove sale Mate Porro y todo lo demas








Il Pilastro Goretta 




photo Damien Tomasi con persona non bene identificata in vetta al Torre.


Il pilastro Nord del Fitz é stato scalato in solitaria dal grande Renato Casarotto nel 1979 in solitaria. La sua impresa é difficilmente comprensibile nell'insieme é una salita di taglia impressionante con difficoltà continue in ambiente molto severo. Il pilastro essendo orientato a Nord tende a coprirsi di incrostazioni quando il vento soffia da Ovest il che capita spesso. L'itinerario di Renato rispetto a quello che abbiamo salito sul lato Ovest é un po piu riparato dal vento ma essendo appunto sotto vento tende a recuperare molta neve durante le precipitazioni e questa neve non appena si verifichi la minima schiarita fonde molto rapidamente trasformando diedri e fessure in colatoi. Il fatto di passare molto tempo in parete moltiplica le chance di trovarsi di mezzo ad una bufera Patagonica ma anche qualora il tempo sia un poco clemente di tribolare non poco a causa delle cadute di ghiaccio e l'acqua che rende tutto piu complicato. La parte superiore é veramente impressionante e l'itinerario molto intelligente. Una delle cose che mi ha colpito é il fatto che la parte alta della sua via, presenti molti tratti di fessure sostenute attorno al 6b-6c ben piu larghe di quelle comunemente salite da chi scala usando chiodi come protezione. Benché esistessero da almeno 5 anni Renato non parla nei sui racconti dell'uso di friends che sono utilissimi e senza i quali non vedo come poter proteggersi correttamente. Bisogna tenere presente che la parte superiore molto incrostata e di settimo grado UIIA il massimo o quasi all'epoca perlomeno su pareti alpine, testimonia largamente delle capacità straordinarie di Renato come Alpinista e arrampicatore. Il fatto che l'80 per cento di coloro che si dirigono su questa via battano in ritirata allegramente dopo aver o meno raggiunto la sommità del pilastro Goretta é dovuto semplicemente al fatto che la parte superiore della via é veramente molto impressionante. Per questa salita contrariamente a come si fa di solito su itinerari lungo i quali si usa trasportare materiale per le parti su ghiaccio ,bivacco etc abbiamo deciso di non usare le jumar. Un opzione usata molto sulle Alpi sarebbe quella di tirare un saccone ma su queste vie del pilastro nord sarebbe piuttosto sconsigliabile per le varie ragioni che costituiscono un limite a questo sistema, riduce di molto la velocità ed é molto scomodo a causa della conformazione della roccia. Noi arrampicando in tre abbiamo fatto due zaini di 8 chili ed uno di tre. Il due secondi si divertono a scalare anche se il peso dello zaino ha causato dolori alle braccia.Nell'insieme ci ha permesso di salire faticosamente ma piuttosto rapidi. La cordata di neo zelandesi che abbiamo superato usava tecniche di jumar e shortfixing e sono stati meno rapidi il che ci suggerisce che la tattica che abbiamo impiegato non sia male. In ogni caso per chi come noi é ben piu capace di tirare su un friend che sulle jumar é un ottima soluzione a condizione di scalare leggeri. 


dimanche 20 avril 2014

 Aiguilles Basic Linkup 

When the weather forecast showed a few days of good weather i imeediately tried to get to one of my main projects, then during the weekend the forecast changed into a bunch of days of very strong north winds. The only day who looked good was thursday not really enough to get anything done on big hard routes. Still was a good day to fill with Alpine climbing so together with Tomas Mueller we decided to fill it with a lot of climbing. The line we were thinking was a traverse of the aiguilles de Cham not by the ridgeline but by the northern aspects were are a number of excellent classic routes. A line we would appreciate everytime we look at the Aiguilles from the Elevation terrace. The idea was to start at night from Montenvers ,climb the Grands Charmoz north face then rappel down to the Nantillons climb up the Spencer rappel down to the hanging glacier underneath Aig. du Plan climb up Lagarde - De Segogne to then traverse till Aig.du Plan and finally Aig.du Midi. We took the last train up Montenvers we are not alone some fellow Spanish friend Martin, Unai and Eneko are going to spend the night there to do Gr.Charmoz as well.

note to self: next time bring a xbox

Weather was very good but it was still windy and cold, we were happy to have a tent. 
The alarm was set for 1:15 AM and some 45 mins later we took off, we left a bag with the tent and camp gear at the train station. We carried  a rack with 8 cams 4pitons and stoppers quite a heavy rack the idea was to have enough to set some rappel stations down the upper part of west couloir of brèche de Blaitière as we never heard of people either climbing either rapping down it. The approach was tedious fortunately we found some old tracks so it was not phisically demanding. Following tracks meant we could easily tackle the lower part of the route without getting lost in the dark something i was kind afraid of. On such long days with multiple climbs everything must go smoothly as it's easy to waste time. I made a schedule, i really hoped we would top out Grands Charmoz around midday finally it took us 4h40, an encouraging start 9h30 on top . The Grands Charmoz north face was first climbed by Ryan and Lochmatter by a very bold line on the right of the face. Consensus in Alpine History tends to tag Welzenbach and Merkl with the first real ascent of the north face. Before their epic ascent a solid attempt was made by Tezenas de Montcel and Paul Fallet until some 100mt from the summit. Nowadays the criteria people have to define a succesful ascent are really not that stricts, this is particularly the case for first ascents in Himalaya and Patagonia. The route on the Vallot was given an unimpressive D+ in French rating. The difficult of the climb has inflated to more appealing 4+ and M5 maybe because the couloirs got really leaner and steeper during the last decades or maybe because modern climbers tends to pretend they can climb D+ without struggles (after all the north face of Les Droites similar in difficulties was given a ED grade by Rebuffat now with modern gear should get a D+). I have nothing to bring into the grading concept only i can suggest people to do lots of D+ routes from the early 20th century if they want to be confortable on "ED" routes. Most of these Classics in the Vallot topo are kickass . 
Once on top of the route we faced a decision that only climbers doing linkups will have to take: why not going home now that we have climbed this route? i have to admit i didn't really paid attention to that particular scenario generally after i climb a route i just descend and go home, not this time. This time we stay to the mountain side for a "all you can eat" program. It is a particular moment who give you the feeling you're really going for it. I started feeling pain on my bad ankle on the rappels and i was a bit afraid it would have been a very tough day, and it did.

The Welzenbach Merkl is thin but very good



first rappel

Spencer couloir, Aig. du  Midi in the back 

Up Spencer

First Rappel down West Couloir Lagarde is the gully behind

Once on the Nantillons glacier we climbed up Spencer Couloir, which is lame because is the kind of staff people ski... fortunately nobody did skied down it that day , anyway it was too obvious to do like that and there where no others better options, top of the couloir at 12h45, we immediately started the rappels into the west couloir the only part of the all traverse who held some mistery as we had no information about it. It would actually give interesting ice and mixed climbing in the upper 100mt just it's quite long and tedious to get there...we reached the couloir after only 4 rappels and we downclimbed the couloir quicly before the high temperatures would made it unsafe. Once at the base we simply traversed 50mt into the Lagarde-De Segogne via a beautiful mixed ramp. 


Nice gully on Lagarde- De Ségogne

Traversing under the Crocodile

Ajouter une légende



The last bit of the journey
The Lagarde De Segogne is a pretty steep climb with ice and mixed up to 85 degrees i just can't imagine how these guys did it with a straight axe no frontpoints, no pitons, no icescrew, clearly a masterpiece. This climb ends at a brèche,still far from the top of Aiguille du Plan and miles away from the Midi. My ankle was hurting a lot by then we definetely slowed down trying not to do some stupid mistakes on the tricky traverse underneath Aiguille du Crocodile, it took us a while to finally step into Midi Plan ridge but we were still ahead of schedule. We both have climbed the last part of the ridge a few times and we were more then happy to do the most difficult part, the Rognon du Plan, by daylight. After 21 hours of climbing and walking we stepped into the cablecar station at the Midi. We spent the night in the toilets as it was the only warm place in the building, still better than outside! Big Thanks to Tomas for this excellent day

Gear: 1x 8.5mm  50mt rope                     Survival Bag
          1x 6mm 50mt kevlar rope              Jetboil Titanium 120ml gaz
          8 camalots from #0 to #2               Cordelette 
          4 screws   (quite useless)                V-Thread Hook 
          4 pitons  (for retreat)                      Knife
          6 stoppers
          5 quickdraws

mercredi 16 avril 2014

Springtime Climbing 

After a winter mostly spent skiing i was more than eager to take up some good ol' Alpine Cruising.
Working as a Young Guide require to be 100 percent focused into the two main terms of this job :
Hunting and hustling for working and avoiding problems while working. A process that require most of my volatile attention. End of March ,town is no longer filled with black snow, days are longer girls less dressed and is nice to hang out on the terraces and enjoy Cham life...but Cham life is useless if staying in the terraces make you feel guilty for not being up there feeding rats. Stories of happy climbers enjoying anticyclones and alpine faces did not help feeling better even more if in the meantime you're studying  to complete a winter guide ski course. Stuff could have been finished a few injuries ago. Now is April courses are over and i take over feeding my rat, who by now is the size of a Pitbull i fed him with painkillers and free drytooling up on my Aiguilles. The beasts from the East come and gone with my project in the bag i got to reinvent myself but Chamonix has plenty of potential mixed free climbing projects! No rush or race for these projects when the only other person around who is interested in  collecting them is actually attached to your rope. Thanks god gas and autoroutes are expensive so the Slovenians are not here too often.
Conditions are quite dry but since early winter it seems that the Czech Route on Les Droites might be formed. I believe is not in a particularly good shape maybe is always to be found like that at some point of the winter but everybody me included seems more interested in the real Droites North Face, route 99 (ah the hype..) The Czech route is actually more interesting and technically more challenging than the north face. The ice crux is at the end of the lower third. A long exposed and at some point very steep snice bulge.
Jeff and me started late in the afternoon from the Grand Montets and set up a camp on the glacier some 45 minutes away from the base of the route. 1h30 AM i wake up (later i'll find out i didn't) and prepare some tea, i accidentally drop the Jetboil right into my sleeping bags but who care that's the only night we spending in the tent ,but, i was sitting on my two pair of gloves and now are completely soaked with tea. I try to recover at least one pair trying to burn them with the jetboil, fortunately we are not in AK but still we are going to climb a long north face difficult route. We started not really sure how long it will take before i'll froze my fingertips after twenty minutes i enjoyed the first of many hot aches,who in the end seemed to help drying the gloves. A 3am conclusion is "if you're dry you are getting wet, if you're wet you gonna get dry" at least on paper and on the Argentière basin. Jeff did a 200 mt pitch then a 150 mt pitch and we were at the base of the ice crux it was still dark but by the moment i was atop of it the sun was not far. The route being NE facing it take a fair amount of morning sun and it was welcome. We entered the upper bowl after some couloir and mixed climbing and we ended at the base of the steep and dry upper wall. Curiously the many belaystations we encontered went missing after the route actually got quite interesting. Jeff did a chimney and some loose corners, i did a last pitch who took us on the ridge of Tournier Spur from were the route was far from over. i climbed up on the funny steep crest of the spur then traversed into a beautiful gully. This gully was really cool with a little overhang on good ice. another couple of pitches of mixed and black ice and we were back in the crest of the Spur from them it looked like the terrain would ease but it wasn't the case it was low angle but covered with sugar snow a very annoying mix. We were adamant about descending the Lagarde downclimbing and doing rappels and it looked like we would have to do that by night if we tried to summit. A quick inventory of the gear we could use to undertake such a long descent by night showed the luck of a few essentials: knife ,V thread hook, pitons. I know is mainly my fault so let's descend into the Lagarde now so that at least we would use the remaining of the afternnoon avoiding further bullshit. The descent was in the end not that obvious and we were happy to avoid to do that in the dark. We got back to the tent at 18h45 and skied out before we had to use the headlamp.
A few days later i made some plans with Ben O'Connor Croft , Griffith and Colin to go climb the North Face of Requin a long mixed route i longtime wanted to try. We skied down vallée blanche and went sleeping at the nice Requin Hut. The next morning we woke up and walked to the base. The recent snowfalls made the climbing very tricky as the snow was very sugary and since we really wanted to avoid to spend too much time crawling we traversed int the Baumont Gaby gully. It's a very nice line who offer some Chamonix style steep mixed pitches. We topped out in early afternnoon and got down to Montenvers confortably. Very nice day out with the guys and cool to climb with Ben for the first time.
Some days later Jeff and I decided to give a go at one of our most unlikely drytooling projects. It's the huge corner in the West Face of Aiguille du Plan. Some people love flowers others love clouds i love dihedral. Some of the biggest ones in Patagonia for instance are my craziest Alpine dreams, so the obviuos one i see from home is also on top of the list. We secretely hope the route would go free even tough the topo talked about big chimneys and micro cracks,who generally translates into pain in the ass while dry tooling. We were thrilled about the fact first ascensionists Sir Bonington and Lito Tejada Flores did encounter a lot of ice in summer they couldn't use it because it was in the 60, well before carved tools and camalots were invented.
We started on first bin Jeff was wearing a set of cams and a shopping bag it was quite funny. We raced to the base and the old Jeff was there well before me which made look the shopping bag tactics quite good. Snow and ice conditions were very good we started on the obvious gully just aside of the spur who the first ascensionist used in summer , spur that by the way collapsed a few years ago. We quicly made it to the base of the massive corner it looked rad! splitter cracks around hard nevé gullies we were stoked. The route is dead vertical. I was thinking that it might felt frustrating for people who climbed hard on pitons and wooden wedges to discover it could have been so much funnier later on when cams were invented , i mean by then some people already walked on the moon and people were still struggling try not to kill themselves on a size 3 crack. We had some really top of the fun scale piches it could not be any better. Maybe for those who are not used jamming and handling double sword techniques it will look crazy hard some maybe it will be wise for those interested ,to pack a pair of rockshoes just in case. We used no pitons, we used more stoppers than usual the cracks being really stoppers friendly. When the route was over i still could not believe we had such a cool day out, sometimes you gotta be lucky. We descended to Requin Hut and were greeted by Delphine the Requin is a very cool place to stay both in winter and summer. Might that be for descending the VB by full moon or going to take advantage of spring sun on the Fou south face or obviously for the many gullies in the backside of Aiguilles.
Droites Czech Route






    Aiguille du Plan West Face Bonington Tejada Flores



















Bonington route Vid:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtEDTin5sJE 
Droites Vid:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG5Qj5BeSKY