Oct 8, 2015

Tour d´Areu - Vallée d´Arve. Compact climbing

Tours d´Areu - No alarm clock needed but maybe a sleep clock. 
Cause there is plenty och sheep clocks! And the local terrorist cows.

Les Tours d´Areu is 6 towers of compact limestone, suited in the center of value d´Arve above Sallanche. The routes are high quality on slab and steep and clean limestone in a great mix. 
As the approach is on the longer side, approximately 2h from Burzier. The number of climbers is few. To reduce the daily walk the use of Refuge Doran at 1500mts as ”bivvy” makes life easier. Or, go camping at the meadows above the refuge. Just look out for the local ”habitants”. The sheep are very active, do they ever sleep? And the cows, well look out!

We took a walk up, brought a tent and food for a two day adventure. The time of year, late september, makes the rock even more sticky and the south east facing walls has sun from early morning to late afternoon. And with the altitude its not to warm.
A liter of water, harness and shoes and a handful of quick draws to go with a twin 50m ropes. 
The walk up from Burzier is straight forward, just follow the 4x4 road, up to the refuge. From there it is a good path heading up towards col du Forclaz. Once up at the base of the towers, it is easy to traverse out below any of the walls. Take a reminder of which one of them the aimed route is on. They are quite different in character so its easy to count them while passing. To get to the 5th and 6th tower it might be good to have a Chamois in the family, since the grass slopes are a bit, well say exposed.
All the others are easily reached as long as you don’t try getting there in the flip flops.
And if you look out there is a good chance to see an Gypaète Barbu

There is a number of classics
Band Piola, Michel Piola with Daniel Stolzenberg and Thierry Périllat put up a number of routes here in the late 80´s. In the shadow of aig. Midi and the more ”obvious” mountains around. And, it was still 2hours of walk at that time! Most of the routes are drilled ”en route” so suspect some distance between the spits.
Alcootest, 7a+ 180m, is one of them. But a much nicer one in my opinion is Mélusine on the 4th tower. A 6c climb with 4 long pitches. And very engageant, specially the 6c pitch! Just be prepared that the pitches are up to 40m and there is only need for 10QD´s.
An other brilliant climb is X Scream limit. A most beautiful route up on the orange colored rock on the second tower. Steep climbing and also very engagée climbing. But better protected than Mélusine.

The days
”We took the Ford up to Burzier and headed of in the low temp morning, well it was closer to mid day since there is always things to do on the way, bank, bakery…you name it. Loaded with a small pack with our new CRUX bivy tent, the X1 Raid , and a bit of real mountain food (coffee and Rosti).
A set of twin ropes and a handful of quickdraws. And some small aliens, green-yellow-red! 
The walk up to the refuge Doran is very easy once you start walking. I have skied the classic couloir from col de Forclaz, same approach, a number of times. As well as skinning up to Les Quatre Tetes for speed riding. It is the last bit from the refuge that is a bit tiresome. But on the other hand, than you have had the chance to leave all the camping gear behind which means super light packs. 

X scream limit, 7a

Once up at the meadow we stop and start to sort out the spot for the tent and were to leave the bivy gear. It is then, in the corner of my eye, I see one of the cows being a bit to interested of my gear. And ”whips” i see my t-shirt disappearing down its throat. Well most of at least. It sort of comes up and goes down again i a number of times. Trying to get it back is…impossible. 
At least that leaves out if I should take it to the washer later, because when I finally are able to force it back. It is out-used so to speak. At least now I know how a ruminated shirt looks like!

Food time at the Meadows....

Yummy, happy cows!
Hiking the last part up to the base of the tower, our goal was Mélusine. And as always i start to mix up the routes and towers…my picture in the phone doesn’t make it much better. So i just sit down and wait for my partner to show up…and since there still isn’t anyone after 15min I suspect something like trouble. Heading back on the track there is no one. But a single person with a red back pack is heading back downwards to the tents. i again suspect trouble and start to descent as well. Finally getting physical contact I am only to realize it is someone else. So, only to turn around again and walk back up. Meeting a likewise tired Anna at the very end of the walls…
Back to the original business, climbing, we soon find the route with the help of the topo. 

A little frustrated I start up the first pitch but soon the climbing takes all my focus and I am just back to enjoying the high quality performance to come. Every move and grip takes full concentration. And on this route falling isn’t an option many times.

Anna following on the first pitch of Mèlusine

Quality Camping
Since we started climbing late we have a cold afternoon/evening but after a little persuasion we climb the last pitch as well. Before rappelling back down, enjoýing the marvelous views over massif du Mont Blanc.
after a nice comfy evening we take a early night to be fit for next days fighting.
Well forget it! Does a sheep never sleep!? And who´s idea was it to put a bell on every single one of them!??! Sleeping is not to think of but now and then we anyhow doze of a couple of minutes here and there. Until its finally morning, arriving with a warm sun.
Which hit the tent already at 07:00. 

Back up at the tower and the days goal, we rack up for X scream limit. A route that will have us all on toes over its 6 pitches climbing. It starts with a super hard boulder problem and tops out 170m later with a crack system over vertical limestone. 

But in all a most perfect multi pitch sport route.
Nothing more to do than rappel off and scramble back down to a cold pression and well deserved dinner in the valley!

le bellevue, mont  Blanc!

Getting there
In Sallanche drive up towards Outredière and Burzier, head for Burzier.
From the parking follow the route for ref. Doran, approx 45min/1h.
After the refuge there is an other 45min walk up the track to col de Forclaz. Go all the way up to the base of the first tower and traverse out from there. Following the obvious path. 

2x50m rope, 10QD´s, midsize Aliens/cams (alien green to red is useful), a couple of loose carabiner for the belays
Extra cord to improve the anchors.
Best time is spring and autumn. Ok in summer, June/July, but can be a bit warm.
Camping and refuge style, ref. Doran.

//Livet är en krusning på stilla vatten, så länge ingen kastar sten...

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