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


Equipment:
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
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.

Equipment:

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

Topo
















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
Topo

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!

May 16, 2017

Ropes - the importance of your life line


  Thoughts about ropes and how some factors can directly change the performance



The presence of water or ice on our climbing ropes produces important modifications in their performance, maybe more than we think?!

  The dynamic resistance of the ropes down to 30 % of the initial value - when they are soaked with water. Independent of if they new or used, normal or waterproofed.
After soaking in water a rope becomes 4-5% longer, which can be correlated to the 5-10% increase of the impact force .

  The negative effects of water on the dynamic performance of ropes are remarkable even in case of a brief soaking time, even after being splashed under a shower.
This behaviour seems to be due to the interaction of water with the crystal structure of the nylon macromolecule (according to literature).

Such behaviour lasts as long as the rope is wet, but after drying - in a cool, airy and shady place, as recommended - the rope recovers almost completely its original dynamic performance, even after various soaking/drying cycles.
Depending on the drying grade (normal or thorough) the rope can become shorter by 4% to 8%, which seems to be correlated to the decrease by 6-12% of the impact force on a first fall test. 
Even in the case of soaked and frozen ropes the dynamic resistance decreases, but less than in wet ropes.









  With this in mind a used rope in good conditions, which still could hold 4-5 falls in the UIAA test with a Dodero machine when dry, might only hold 1 or 2 falls when soaked. Like after a sudden rain fall, as often occurs in the mountains. And which also make the risk of a fall bigger since the rock would be wet, if it's not seriously overhanging! 


This may not be too much of a serious problem when sportclimbing, where falls are usually less dangerous and it takes little time to be lowered, pull the rope down and go home. 
But mountaineers must demand the maximum security from their rope, even when wet, since it might snap on a rough edge during a fall. 
This risk is lower when the rope is in good condition. 

The problem could also be less critical when climbing a glacier or an ice-fall, because the ropes are frozen, but even in this case the temperature is very important. 
Since if it is goes over -0° C, the rope returns from frozen to being wet!
Not taken in the fact that a wet/frozen rope make it seriously difficult to handle. But that is an other story...


















So, in conclusion, it seems like a good idea to keep a close eye on the condition of the rope. Not just before and after the climbing day out.
And maybe consider changing our ropes more often as well!?


// when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.