Alpine Conditions Update – 11/09/07

Quite a bit been happening recently, so time for another update on Chamonix Alpine Climbing conditions…  Settled weather has finally arrived as the temperatures have begun to drop into September – resulting in superb ice conditions on several of the North Faces.

Rich’s sortie into Cirque Maudit with Dave Horwood produced some useful beta:

On the Tour Ronde, there have been teams on the North Face, the Gervasutti Couloir is fine but there’s still a gap in the Rebuffat Couloir (the descent down the SE ridge looks quite involved at the moment though). At the back of Cirque Maudit, the boys climbed Fil D’Ariane (stopping 2 pitches below the top – it was getting a bit too warm..) & report that the Comino-Grassi Rte just to the right was also well iced (this area of the cirque does get sun though, so it needs to be cold + things are evolving – Update 13/09  looks like things have now melted out).

Next up came an ascent of the Frendo Spur on the Aiguille du Midi along with Owen, whose guiding James Smith on a N Faces week.  They all got down yesterday reporting it was quite icy on the upper rock section, which took longer than usual – but conditions on the ice arete and the left hand finish were excellent.

Dave Horwood topping out on the Frendo Spur

Big news however, is that the N Face of the Grand Jorrasses is now seeing traffic. Several teams have been climbing the Shroud over the summer, but the Bonatti-Vaucher was climbed last week (Jon Bracey & Niel Brodie headed off the other day to do the same – how do those boys always seem to finish work just as all the big north faces come in? – we’re not jealous really! – more info when they’re down).  One of the boys in Snells climbed the Colton-MacIntyre yesterday too, reporting perfect styrofoam ice on the lower half.  Rich has now headed up to look at the Petit MacIntyre tommorrow.

At a more reasonable grade, the tacul triangle is still in good nick – my tip for a nice day out here at the moment would be Petit Frounet on the L side of the face.  This is a great route that’s not often climbed & I had a good view of it from Pte Lachenal today. The line is well iced & currently unclimbed – keep clear of the serac on the approach though..

NB – The Torino Hut: the main hut has just been closed for work, so the winter room (at the bottom of the stairs, by the lift) is now guardianed and open, offering just 30 places – so don’t be surprised if it’s full!