Jul 22, 2013

Charmoz - Grèpon traversée

Une ultra route de classic - traversée de Charmoz - Grépon

Maybe not the best timing but the plans was made, the weather at the best and le sac a dos was packed for a big tour...
Or only bad issue was that the great magazine Montagnes had a big reportage with a couple of nice pictures from the just mentioned route...
Arriving at Midi station the place looked almost empty, except for the number of people waiting to get into the first cabin, leaving 06:30
As we arrived 2min to late, we got stocked with two people before us...waiting for the next on at 06:45, which was almost empty

But, during the time my climbing partner had found out that it could be one more party heading for the same line.
-Hmm, not to bad, I thought
-But climbing it in a day...no way, you are going to have a bivvy...!
-Well that won't happen, I was thinking for my self
Up at Plan d'Aiguille we fought ourselves out from the lift house and headed off thou wards the path leading towards le lac, pretty sure that the 3:30h approach should be reduced to about half.
And soon we was passing people, a lot of people. And where they was heading? Le Charmoz cest sure!
And it was the mantra for the day, a lot of people! So not a idée unique and thank you Montagnes :-)
Feeling "smart" on the approach (raska fötter)

A 2h approach took us to the base of the Charmoz and the first bit of scrambling up to Burgener crack, the first real effort of climbing. But a great one! And it sure takes its effort with boots on the feets...

After the Burgener it easies off again and some nice transport up to the ridge, and what a ridge! Great place!!
So a couple of enjoyable minutes just sitting and ... enjoying the views.
And then, then the climbing really starts. Exposed 5ich climbing and thank you for the insitu pegs here and there.
Burgener Crack...

Passing team after team on the ridge we semi climb most of the pitches and finally stand on top of Charmoz, after 2h climbing

Climbing up the Open Book corner we meet a couple of people wondering how to continue to Aig. République.
-ohh, they will have a loong day I start to think but finally convince them that just rappelling back down again would be best in this case
After talking, pointing out on the map and thinking of -/+ over some time that are up to buying the idea to just go down, and give the République a new chance an other day

Then, we say good bye and head up to the shoulder of Grèpon and the Mummery crack. And what a joke, 5b!
Today it would be graded at least 6b but in the good ol' days, geeess....
Well, a lot of fighting and we was over it, glad to have a rope

But, after this...the summit is still a far bit away and up here nothing comes easy. The "Vire à Bicyclette” ledge just need to take a rest on though, it is just such a great place, even with out a bike
A bit more climbingscrambling and la Madame le sommet is reached, finally, after 7h from le Plan. A quite ok time after all, since the topo says 6-10h just for the ridge
A longer rest on the summit, still in good weather and just super great views over le massiv, we start to head down

Four rappels and some down climbing we are back on the glacier (1/2h for the descent) and start the walk back to the lift, still plenty of time to reach the last lift down.
Charmoz - Grépon
A route with many facets, complicated glacier approach, route finding on the W face of the of the Grands Charmoz and an exposed and aesthetic ridge
From the Plan d’Aiguille cable car station, follow the path which traverses the Blaitière glacier and leads to the Nantillons glacier, following various cairns.
Variant: If you are coming form the Midi Plan hut it is best to take the lower path directly E from the hut, and finish up the moraine of the Nantillons glacier to its high point.
Cross to the true right bank of the glacier (risk of stonefall, cross low down and quickly!) arc upwards and go to the right to reach the Rognon des Nantillons (at the first 1/3 of the Rognon), where the glacier levels against it, at the foot of some seracs.
Climb to the top of the Rognon, firstly by easy steps on the far right, then less to the right, (cairns,) where the angle eases, then go back to the left on a vague ridge.
From there go up the glacier to the left, (serac risk), until the bergshrund of the Grands Charmoz, pass it as best you can to gain the terraces on the true right bank of the Charmoz-Grépon couloir.
Route 2 to 10h
From the foot of the couloir to the gap 3421m
Climb to the left of this couloir for about 200m until large terraces which you follow to the left, (obvious large cairn.) Traverse leftwards at about the level of a red tower
You come to a series of chimneys and corners to the right of a red spur. Climb this line, 4c max, including the Burgener crack, which is often verglaced.
From the gap to the summit of the Charmoz-Grépon couloir
Start the ridge by turning the first pinnacle on the Nantillons side (4c, 2 pegs)
Follow the crest of the ridge, (3b, exposed,) and reach the next gap by a short and delicate down climb on the Mer de Glace side
Bypass the third pinnacle (La Carrée) again on the Nantillons side, firstly on a large flake then by slabs to reach after a pull-up a platform under a thin pinnacle the “Bâton Wicks” (4c)
A short abseil leads to the next gap. Follow the tapered ridge for several metres to reach another abseil, which you need to pendule to reach a platform of boulders (15m). From here you can climb to the highest point (4b)
Descend by easy but bad rock to the top of the Charmoz-Grépon couloir
From the top of the couloir to the summit of the Grépon2 to 3h
Do not go to the lowest gap, (in the line of the couloir) : climb a corner, "the open book" (4b, 2 pegs,) which leads to the gap to the right of col Charmoz-Grépon. Go onto the Mer de Glace side, traverse for 20m then climb back up to another gap at mid height of the Mummery crack
You reach the crack either by a short but delicate traverse, (5c, 2 pegs, steep slab) or by climbing down 4 metres and then traversing (4c, slab)
Climb the remaining 10 metres, tricky for 3m, (5b)
Go back onto the Mer de Glace side by the "Trou du Canon", climb a crack capped by an overhang, (4b,) to the left, and pass back onto Nantillons side through a slot (“letter box”.) Hand traverse the flakes on the ridge, (4c,) then follow the sharp ridge, (2 pegs high up, the start of the flake traverse is a bit committing.)
A first abseil leads to a gap from where you climb the next pinnacle (3c.) From there, abseil down the Nantilons side to a ledge which you follow to the next gap. A narrow ledge on the Nantillons side then a long stride after having gone over to Mer de Glace side, brings you to the "Vire à Bicyclette”, (cycling ledge). Follow this to its end. By another flake, hand traverse on the right, (easier than the one before,) to reach a delicate, Z shaped crack, (1 move of 4c, protectable with nuts,) on the Nantillons side., which you climb to the summit and the statue of the Virgin
Descent to the Col des Nantillons
From the summit make an abseil of 20m on the Mer de Glace side to reach the Balfour gap. From there, in two abseils of 25m, reach an obvious shoulder, from where a 30m abseil leads to a deep gap. Climb back up the little wall opposite of 3m, (3c,) without releasing the rope, which gives access to a terrace
At the end of the terrace down climb the shoulder and ledges, leading to near the Col des Nantillons
You need
40m rope plus one 30m for the rappels
5 QD's, small set of mid size nuts, Green-Red Alien, 1-2 camalots
Numbers of pegs and slings en route
(Et bonne courage)

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