Mar 4, 2017

Arete du Rabouin - Bassin d´Argentière

Finally a day in between work.

But since we or I not really could decide if it was a climbing day or a skiing day, we ended up with both. Choosing a route at the Argentiere bassin, easily accessed from the top lift at Grands Montets.
An other ski in - ski out.
Anna enjoys life at Arete du Rabouin
  The forecast was rapported sunny in the morning and during the day and then heavy snow and strong wind in the afternoon but more late afternoon and evening.
Just to make it even more interesting we took a slow morning, which always happens after a loong period with work and a lot of things to catch up with.
So it had to be very light and fast if we should make it before the weather front moved in.
the Grands Montes view, stunning as always.
Anna enjoying the approach
  Since my light boots still was waiting for new soles I had to go very light with my old Sportiva "Dru-solo". I was not interested to go in my bulky double boots on this.
At 11:15 we was at the telecabine in Argentiere and 20min we got a lift up to the top of Grands Montets. (thanks for the nice help with our reservation at the ticket office and saving the day for us)
At 12:08 we was a the refuge, parked our skis and boots and re-dressed for the hike up to the base of the route.

  Arete du Rabouin is normally an easy scramble with short sections of more exposed climbing. 350mts of climbing at maximum 4c. Thats in summer though! A winter ascent can provide so much more, but with the long period of warm weather that we had experienced the ridge should be all clear.
But to really find out, there is only one way!
Premiere scrambling part to access the route

  Already when we put our gear on the clouds starts to build up and obviously there is a lot of wind up high around 4000mts. And some small amount of snow in the air, but still mostly blue skies.
So no worries, yet!
The hike uphill is as it always is when plodding through snow this time of year, sometimes it holds...and sometimes it is up to the waist. Unpredictable.
As we was hoping the firsts bits turnes out to be very fast, scrambling and easy climbing.
But then we get to the base of the dihedrals and since the rocks are mostly like bricolage built and stapled on each other it feels best to tie us in on a rope, a single 1/2rope to keep the weight down.
With the gaining altitude the wind is picking up and we are already in our down jackets.
But I have to climb in my "cut of finger gloves" so soon my tips are missing its cover.

Leading the thing needs full focus here and there and again to keep the weight down we only brought 3 cams and 3 wires, so with spread out pro falling isn't an option.
Anna on the premier climbing part at the Dihedre´s
  The climbing is very spectacular and exposed most of the times, but when the sun disappears the fun dropps a bit as well. Still, I made the brilliant choice to stick my feet in my mother´s favorable home made wool socks. But I don't want to stay still to long so the moving is mostly together, only short sections of proper belaying.
The breche at 3025mts and the following Rateau du chèvre saves the whole climb! Super spacey!!
And the following blocs and boîte du lettres keeps us smiling.
And with the smiles the sun returnes on us and follows us all the way up to the summit at 3150mts.

  My feets stay warm and nice and it even looks like we wont need to navigate back trough fog and snow!
Down climbing the three etages west to the top of the snow couloir, which we descends easily, but what a waste of the powder, in waist deep snow all the way to the glacier.

At 15:10 we are back at the hut and can enjoy a nice afternoon in the sun before stepping back in the bindings and ski back down.

Descending back towards the glacier and refuge
Arete du Rabouin
Length 350m
Grade 4c/b
Equipment, 3 fixed pitons.
Gear; 50m rope, 3-6 QD´s a few wires and mid size Camelot's (0.5-1.0)
Topo Mont Blanc Granite, Bassin d´Argentiere

A very interesting climb over mostly solid rock, even though it looks somewhat unstable at some points. Easily accessed from refuge d´Argentière.
not: this is a great example of how it normally goes, the weather holds and the route has good enough conditions as it was expected. Everything works fine; route finding, enough gear, finding the detour etc... 
But with only a few mistakes, a couple of misshappenings and a bad weather forecast the smile easily disappears. Changing a great day to its opposite or the last. In the mood to go fast there isn't to much options of carrying much "extras" and "just in case".
In a light down jacket and soft boots life is good as long as it is moving. But on a stop that stays still with no chance to continue you have to have some kind of back up. And that will not be PGHM all the time. When you need them around you can be very shore of that there is no weather for flying. Even though their pilots are on the better side of the skill scale.
So always going with a back up plan and a escape route might bring you back home.
Planning for a possible retreat and what it might mean. Which, specially on ridge/arete climb isn't always easy just to rap of.
There is no "snow cards" or "app´s" to save you here, just pure skills called luck or experienced.
Heading back down, coffee time!

/ Suddenly, the future is the past

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