Aug 8, 2017

WiFi Expeditions

  When people are sitting at a Base Camp at 3800mts, somewhere at a place which is not possible to reach even with a 4X4, grumbling over how slow the wifi goes, complaining that "it takes hours just to upload one or two pictures to my blog". Instead of actually be amazed, or even better; being frustrated over that there actually EXISTS an internet connection at this location!
Well, thats sends me to be more then simply confused.
Bouldring with a view 
 This always makes me worried over why these people wants to expose them self to this miserable life which high altitude expeditions often means.
Expeditions which often means long hours of waiting, headache and bad appetite with a running stomach. Long way from the safety of a super speed WiFi. Long way from everything our modern life has to offer. Even though its still miles more modern then this type of adventure used to be, when most of our planet was only seen via rumors or from a plane window. Big expeditions like the French Annapurna expedition in 1950. Maurice Hertzog
Some of our modern "Adventurers" which has been trying to repeat these men´s (it was often men due to that time) stunning adventures. Like following in the foot steeps of Amundsen or even better trying to repeat the unbelievable misery that Shackleton and his crew survived. Well, in my opinion its a little bit of an other story to do this with a modern unsinkable ship, something that could survive a nuclear attack almost. But thats an other story...

Marble Wall Peak - making tracks with friends
Aiming for higher peaks is in many way a game for us that likes to be bored of just waiting. Just waiting on our body to be adjusted with the new environment and altitude.
And, during these moments, be able to do what the modern human find it so hard to do. Just relax, enjoy the moment, even talk to other people at the same table but with out a "smart phone" in attache mode to their ear. Letting everybody else know how busy they are and what cool places the are at!
When the mobile phone doesn't connect even to the smallest amount of Facebook, Messenger or WhatsApp. And instead you actually just HAVE to talk to the other people in the same tent, people you know but don't now what to adress and talk with.

Moments in life!
Since nowadays its easier just to meet for dinner at some cool restaurant but at the same time blogg about this online, so you don't really need to talk to your so called friends. But letting everyone else know that your the man!
Cause I find more and more people thinking them self to be the most busy guy in the world. Just raging about how stressed they are, with not even time to sit down and eat almost. So the panic of being away for this first trip of a couple of weeks sends the focus of the main goal and why they are here to start with, climbing a peak. Because in their own mind they are already on the next one!

Enjoying moments on the acclimatization 
On my last Elbrus tour people was chocked about "how good the food was"and that there even was a chance to get a "hot shower" at High Camp.
And that they "didn't need to cook the meals by them self", even though it said so with very informative words in all the documents that was sent out way ahead of the trip.
Hell, even the accommodation was ways over the expectations cause there was tent beds, so not nesseccery to sleep on the ground.

With a just little bit of planning, you can find all the best things even on an Expedition far away in Alaska
Big mountains - great moments - Mont Denali
Or, you can invent problems just because its fun. As here on an improvised boulder problem high up at West Rib
But none reflected over that the mobile phones worked with full connection at most of the places, not just around BC. And that there was a WiFi, well that was pretty obvious that it should be?!
With the same matter of course that you would find this at High Camp. So when it turned out not so, people got very jittery eyes.
-is this punishment or holiday?
Once on a trip to Kebnekaise, Sweden, I got a call on the way up. Since the clients had already arrived they had noticed that their phones didn't work with the local net. Only the biggest former state owned distributer covered this area. So, I just had to stop and by sim cards to everybody, 18 people!
Made it even more fun when it turned out that their phones was locked and didn't work with other sim-cards!!

Dont stress - enjoy life - It is easy to miss. Kirgizi Highway
  I guess this is the new way of going on holidays, climbing high peaks around the world with the goal to titulate them self as adventurer´s and alpinists. This extracts more and more people who has just been reading about these adventures and being amazed by the pictures. Wanting to be a part of a community that they can join by putting up enough money to become, with warm coins but a cold heart. Only with the summit in the bag counting for anything. And how to speak to the internet as fast as possible afterwards in modified words to get the story to sound as good as possible to their own reality.
People that in big letters explaining that he would like it to be windy and some snow on the summit day, giving it the feeling of being on Everest. For god´s sake, if they wasn't serious it would be more than just a good joke, but it isn't.

Base Camp life - can be your best moments in life.
As a guide I often meet these people in different situations.
Telling me how they want to climb this and that peak in this and that conditions. Letting us know how they know everything about everything and with the most shining new equipment they often wants to start running up every hill just to show how its done. Ignoring every word about that "mountaineering and high altitude climbing is about going slow with experience"
At one time I overheard my clients discussing the next days aim for the summit;

-"What do you think, would it be possible that you can make the full travers of the peaks?!"
-"well I do not know, our guide doesn't sound to clear about this, maybe he´s not fit enough"

Never that this person would even consider to reflect over that as a guide and experienced climber the focus and goal is to take all the difficult decisions for the whole group.
You don't hire a guide to say yes, you hire him to say no!
Which is sadly necessary since to many people today has a huge lack of self awareness.
Thinking that they have been on so many expeditions (well maybe a trip up Kilimanjaro won't make you an alpinist) and put in so many hours of training (well maybe three times of "power running over 15 minutes" in a week isn't that much).
Often I´m just amazed over people aiming for a 6000mts peak who are not even able to carry their own back-pack. But they want to stay in a tent at 5000mts to be closer to the highest point the day of summiting. But never have they even been out camping in winter before!! Since, "how hard can it be?" Yeah, how hard could it be?!

Unexpected meetings - a chance to make new friend, finding out new stories. At this time of a former Russian Fighter Pilot
  All this makes me often think about the reasons why these people keep on coming.
On the way back from my last expedition, which we finished a couple of days earlier since the weather and everything was with us, the group was very exited to be able to get back to the city earlier than planned. Even those who wasn't able to reach the peak on the summit day. With a few days left with a chance to give it an other try it was still more important to be going back to town, or even to change the ticket to fly back home.
In my ears quite strange since here we was in a foreign country which is not even easy to get to. Needs visa applications and permits and so on. With a chance to see something else then the everyday living, on a planned vacation.
For some I understand the situation. Putting up a lot of stress on them self even before the climbing starts. Making it loud and clear that they want to outperform the mountain it self. But instead being the hardest becoming the weakest in the team and as a result just wants to "disappear". Sad for not only them but for the whole group since with every failure comes experience.
But try to explain to people to enjoy the moment.
Because for every step you take on return, its a step closer to the expected communication and a WiFi. And in a few moments you will sit there with the smart phone connected to everyone expect your team mates.

What is better than a small tent far from WiFi surrounded by a huge mountain!?
The emptiness after 3 weeks in the mountains is destroyed in 3 minutes with a fast internet.
And there is now showers in the world to prevent us from that.
So next time the sound beeps in your pocket, try to ignore it for at least a few minutes, maybe the whole day!? Or go as far to turn the sound off. Because maybe it was just a text from local net distributor, with the price info.
Take a moment and just enjoy the sound from silence...

Go slow - enjoy life - count hours nor minutes!

Jun 29, 2017

Aiguille de la République - voie République Bananière

The first ascent of Aiguille de la République was done already in 1904 by Joseph Simond. To ascend the slightly leaning top-pillar, a top-rope was sent over from the Grand Charmoz by using a crossbow! At least that is one story. Lassoing the top was the way of ascending the peak until 1971, when it finally was equipped with bolts on the last slab. Today the technical 20m long slab is either aided (A0) or free climbed (6c+). There are several routes leading to the summit, the most popular are the Normal Route and République Bananière, the later being considerably harder.

At 3305mts the peak it self is easily spotted by far distance, throning high and independent at the side of its taller neighbor Grands Charmoz, 3445mts. 
And of course, an obvious goal to be climbed!
With a 2 day weather spell, it was a perfect timing to make the go on this little adventure.
Next morning we took the first train up to Montanvers. And then headed of the ladders down and later up from Mer du Glace, a descent of almost 200mts just down from Montanvers these days!
Then the most "spectacular" hike up the Mer du place moraine, you can even find moss here now, up to the next ladder section towards refuge de l´Envers. But for Republique its possible to make a short cut and head direct towards glacier Trélaporte.
Safes an hour or two instead of passing the refuge it self.
Our plan was to head up and climb the first 12 pitches to a told good bivy spot. From where we could enjoy a nice summer night and then climb on to the summit next day. Should be a good plan.
Anna on the ladders

The hike is easy and so is the route finding. With a good picture from the Piola topo its quite obvious where to start. And since it was my days of Anna was to be doing the guiding. I could just steep back and relax.
Since the last week had been super warm, hotter then ever measured before, our pack consisted much cool clothes and a bivysack. Light as possible. But of course I had packed with me the obvious "mid-summer beer cans" for the evening!
On the Merde du Glace, again!

Everything worked out fine really, but it sure was much colder and windier than the forecast had promised. And when it finally started to rain just as we hit the start of the route, well it felt a bit...not perfect.
But with a; 
-they can't be that wrong!
We agreed to start climbing anyhow and see what happens. If it continue we can choose to turn a round after pitch 6 or 7...

A decision we never need to make. The weather clears and we even get some sunny nice moments before the sun flower behind the south face of Republique, sending us back in the afternoon shadow.
But now with warmer winds.
After 8th pitches we reach the old bivouac de la Tour Rouge.
It is in ruins but there are still some boards but remains mentioned on maps.
It was planning to rebuild this historic bivouac, often cited by Frison-Roche. But it did not succeed the local contact with CAF died. It is still to be re-launch this project. Reviews for amateurs!

  After the Rouge place the climbing goes more Piola style. With steep slabby slabs with spaced out bolts sections. Some are possible to avoid with regular crack climbing, which actually gives the route a more natural character as well. But some parts are just really enjoyable and still with the bolts just at the right place!
The last pitches up to our bivy runs out quick and at 17hours we are set and saddled for the evening. The heat is on and midsummer "fête" is coming up!

Slab a la Piola!

Midsummer party!
Chilly bivy
  The next morning I am awaked by the void.
In a half violent dream I turn left just as I wake up and the sight is just bottomless. Far below is Mer du Glace slowly waking up as well. And in a far distance I hear some fake voices, but it must still be from my dream. 
Still enjoying the warm air from our bivy bag I decide just to inhale the environment. Not in any need to ruch. There is only an other 13 pitches to go to the top. So still a lot of time, at only 05:50.
But some minutes later I again hear the noise, this time obvious yelling. I stand up listning and for sure there is people.
So nothing else to do then to wake up for the morning toilet and the upcoming show. Visualized together with breakfast, a piece of bread with a cup of cold espresso water, not to bad!
Pitch 13, the first of day 2

  With out any stress we await the two Italien parties that are making progress up towards our spot. Who which we decide to let pass since they seems to be climbing in a steady pace and with light packs. Turns out to be 2 teams of guides/aspirants which will make the day a bit more interesting.
With the two teams ahead of us I chalk on for the days first pitch, at 7 a clock sharp. Just as planned.
The day starts with an excellent corner crack pitch, continuing up to the peak of de la Tour. 
A short pendulum rappel down to the base of a platform with a short steep dihedre.
Then passing a section of loose stones over a couloir, which after it is just amazingly good climbing all the way to the very summit. Superb climbing on Cham granit!

  At the last section there is a sign of the changing climate. Obvious signs with resent rockfall makes us wondering of how long this thing will be standing here. But at this time it feels mostly ok, just avoiding the most unstable parts when we wobble over to the last slab pitch,  clockwise around the pillar.
And the las section, described as 6C+...well its a fight but finally we are well on the summit. And a true summit it is!!
I would just like to have been able to see the premier ascents, with the use of a crossbow to mantle the last section, that would be something. 
Anna on the summit

A time for some pictures before the return, back down the normal route...and a aftsrclimb at the hotel du Montanvers

2x50m rope tail rope
Stoppers small set
Friends double of #0,75-#2, single #3
Aliens single blue, double green-red
QD´s We had 4 but a few more is maybe good.

Descent through the normal route is the simplest and quickest option. 
Descending the climbing route is nonetheless possible but inconvenient.
From the summit via the Normal route:
By combining rappels and scrambling, the descent is quite fast.
Many cairns on the route of descent as well.
1 short rappel then down climb to join the platform near the summit blocks.
One very airy rappel from a good anchor (50m) to a terrace under the obelisk.
A rappel until the breach and and go up left bank until a good relay (2 spits/25m).
A 25m rappel and then go west. Climb up easily to another relay on a belted blocks with a lot of straps. From there in two rappels one reaches the vire. Then cross to reach the couloir.
From the couloir continue down climbing combined with a number of 25m rappels. That brings you to the level of the old hut.
Arrive at the bottom of the couloir to find an oblique dihedral and lying (hidden) very easy to down climb (II). It is situated rather on the left bank of the couloir and leaves at the level of the gravel banks. It leads to a good terrace.
From the right edge of the terrace, descend 3-4m to find a belay. From there, 2 rappels and a little down climbing lead to a good ramp. From this ramp go down a little (20m) by pointing to a left hand  (when facing the glacier) there is a bolted rappel.
Two final rappels back to the glacier.

Guide books:
Enverses des Aiguilles by Michel Piola, classic guide book from 2006, the best for that area.- Sommets du Mt Blanc by Jean-Louis Laroche and Florance Lelong, accurate descriptions and information as well as a great inspiration to climbing classics in the Mt Blanc massif

// Små utbrott av individuell storhet

Jun 21, 2017

Voie Kohlmann / Premier de Corvée - Chamonix Northside / Southside

Day 1.

 Beginning of yet an other summer. A summer that has started out just like the last winter - Super Warm and Hot weather. Welcome the new new! This is just the start of a new topic era, just bienvenue la future monsieurs climate change!
The last winters snow goes melting away in an unbelievable rapid speed and so does the glaciers. Glaciers which are going from bad to worse. Soon there will be a couple of new pitches to each and every route in the Vallée Blanche basin!
If the mountains doesn't start to fall down in the same speed!?

Busy as always at Station Midi...

Voie Kohlmann
  We took the opportunity to seek up a couple of high quality climbs, the first one on the Aiguille du Midi side from Chamonix.
The South face of Midi has as mentioned before just a high amount of great climbs. Perfect for a short day of climbing with easy access. And a good combo for getting some acclimatization done at the same time, for bigger routes to come.
Our choice this time was the normally minor occupied "Voie Kohlmann", less frequent than its more known neighbors.
The voie was opened 17 juillet 1960 by Pierre Kohlmann with B. Mevel, G. Dassonville and M. Bréban.

The approach is just amazing as always. You stand at the telepherique in Chamonix and 20min later at the top of Midi, almost, and the 10min later at the base of the Midi South face! Just think of it!?
As suspected it was a huge number of people on the more known Rebuffat route, and we was all alone on "our". So just rack up and do the days hardest effort, trying to pass the rimeye with out taking a screamer down the backside/inside of the glacier.
As the rim was still in good condition it was a quite easy first steep. But for sure its a matter of time.

  The first pitch is a nice warm up, 5b with some passion steeps up to a detached flake which is easy to be pass behind and up to the first belay point. So once on the granit its just easy.
Second, 3rd and 4th pitch goes up a bello bello dihedre. Beatiful climbing on rock solid Cham granit.

Last pitch to the summit!

  Pitch 5 goes up to a roof that is passed and traversed to its left, delicate footwork. And the a short pitch to the base of the last to superb pitches of two more dihedral pitches.
Before it joins some of the other routes for the last 2 pitches to the very summit. And the 25m rappel back to the Midi installation.

With a good amount of speed and only queuing a little bit on the last pitches we did a quite good topping out time.

  So enough time for a coffee tour over to Helbronner, finishing a nice sunny day with the best espresso, café Italien!
Five-ten meeting!

Mont Blanc paoramic - "highway to Hel"
Best way to finish a climbing day...!? well, its one way at least.

Day 2.

  Again a most perfect morning, maybe a tiny bit of thunderstorm in the late afternoon.
So we warm up with a good coffee back home and instead bring the Paraponte heading for Brevent. 
A nice warm up paraponte flight and the up to the top station of Brevent, with the goal to climb Ex Libris. Luckily it was already occupied!? so I could sugest to go for the more interesting neighbor "Premier de Corvée". A four pitch crack climb,mostly on own protection and superb jamming, everything from thin fingers to big fists.

The first pitch is a bit of a wake up, as it starts direct with a 7a. Not to long pitch though, approx some 27-28mts. But sustained and great fun, on bolts and own pro.
The next ones comes hard as well but always on good pro and not to far between the bolts, where they are to be found...

Anna on pitch 1

  Just to be taken some care on a couple of passages with some loose rock and doubtful holds. 
In overall a beautiful climb, close to a full body work out, at least very technical climbing. Which is easy accessed from the lift. A little like the previous at Midi; easy to reach but not so occupied as the more known neighbors.
The second pitch is just a brilliant climb which kept me sending big thanks to 5-10 for making such good shoes, possible to stand on everything that an eye can barely see.


Voie Kohlmann:

50mts rope
Small set of wires
Camalots: 0.5-2.0
Aliens: Green to Red
8 QD´s
Materiel for glacier

Starts a few meter to the right of "Rebuffat" in the obvious crack/dihedre


Premier du Corvée:
50mts rope
Small set of wires
Camalots: 0.5-4.0
Aliens: Blue to Red, maybe x-tra of yellow
8 QD´s

To get to the start, pass by vote Frison-Roche and Ex Libris, follow a hidden trail over some loose but not exposed grass ledges. A short passage down climbing on a fixed rope takes you to the base with a piece of rope attached to the rock. A couple of bolts higher up showed the way.

// Your dreams might be here to morrow, but you might not!