Since we had not much good weather left we decided instead to go rock climbing at the Flames de Pierre. Basically is still early autumn and we have no idea of what is doable because nobody has been climbing mixed as far as we know. Indeed the clear past two nights made temperature drop a little bit, just enough to made the white slushy snow that plastered the North side of the Aiguille de Pelerins consolidate into some nice looking runnels. We were on our way toward our rock climbing destination but we couldn't stop looking in awe the walls looming right over the trail at Plan de l'Aiguille. At some point we stopped and before giving it a second thought, decided to skip rock shoes with our tools and go mixed climbing.
It's a old aid route climbed in 67 by Dard and Reppelin then repeated a few years later by J.M.Boivin and J.M.Cambon
Since then little or nothing is known about the route.We had this idea of giving a second life to this obscure route by making a mixed climbing out of it. It seemed to represent about all what we cheerish. Steep rock and ice,obscure line ,no information available,yet to be climbed free...After a quick descent to the valley to get the necessary equipment we walked to the base to give the route a close look. Once at the base a large grin appeared on our faces, we were not at the wrong place! We couldn't resist the temptation of climbing up a couple of pitches so we fixed our two ropes before rapping down to the glacier.
|Nice looking runnels|
|A Jeff M7 is not alike those M7 claimed by some solo climber on a huge himalayan face|
We felt this route was more difficult than other super-classic overlooked routes and is definetely a testpiece of mixed climbing here in the Mont Blanc Range . Go for it!
|Jeff belay from the top of a stiff section|
|Me Full-on climbing for 45 mt|
I saw tons of climbers claiming hard mixed grades for any ridiculously poor outcrops on walls that might actually be skied. Sometime solo,at high altitude. C'mon. It's super lame. It take a few outings a year to transform any solid trad climber into a pretty good mixed-climber it's just about gettin used a little about handling tools.
|Jeff brandish his weapon|
The demanding climbing took the toll on us and we were somewhat relieved when the difficulty of the route mellow down a little once the corner system was below us. The remaining part was still awesome though.
We still had concern with the slabs on the top. From the photos we checked, it looked like the most delicate part. We were not sure it would go without a struggle. After so much of serious climbing we hoped to have deserved a bit of luck with conditions,it was right, most of the slabs were covered with good snow. In the end it was after a total of 16 pitches that we topped out, a bit knackered, but happy. No words,no hugs not a special urge to escape the mountain,just a handshake and the cool feeling of a job well accomplished (the route went all free with zero pitons used,the most useless of all endeavours on a long alpine route,but is the only way we like, since we are living here year long) or anyway the part of the job that involve climbing up. We immediately started the tedious descent down the west flank of the mountain, the lower part was in awful conditions and we had to keep concentrate not to fuck up. Once we joined the trail we cache our bags and strolled down to Chamonix. On the way down after debating which route we would attempt next, we discussed the route and finally for fun we changed his name into Die Hard, Rep-a-line a fun word play, useless, like the climb we did, simply for the love of the game.The idea of transform a aid route in a mixed climb might seem foolish and also controversial when the aid route in question is a super classic and looks no way like a Alpine route. Old aid routes here sometimes happen to be fantastic mixed lines, with the proper conditions. we felt like we were climbing our own route up there also because the very limited amount of gear we found on route was useless.
I cheerish the word play basically it represent my serious accident, most of us climbers at some point, have a bad accident a had a story about how hard could be to return as solid and motivate as before. This line represent what i wanted to be my return to Alpine climbing past accident.
Of course we don't expect anybody to call this line with another name than his original one.