Sep 11, 2015

l' Elan Vertical / la Reprise - Flammes de Pierre

l' Elan Vertical / la Reprise - Flammes de Pierre

Flammes du Pierre is a little hidden granite spot on the east side of Mer du Glace.

Sunset over Jorasses

Maybe it is because of the small adventures approach that people doesn't hit this place more. The ladders up on the Charpoua side is a work out by it self.

Or maybe just because it's a little tricky to find out information about the routes and it's quality. Or maybe people is just lazy ?!

The name is easy to understand when you are standing and overlooking the magnificent dark red granite, which is here and there lighted up with a brighter reddish color. Giving the rock it's flames. And in a cool position on the north side of Aig. du Moines and crouching under its bigger neighbors le Dru and Aig. Verte.
Photo Magnus Eriksson


The climbing is on mostly solid granite that is dominated by cracks. Cracks that sometimes is a bit hard to jam the hands and fingers in. It's not a beginner area for most of us. Even though I have meet some potential up comers here that was cruising the rock between the anchors. But often it turns out to be the opposite, struggling climbers with pumpy biceps and fore arms filled with lactic acid. The pitches are in general quite long, around 40-45m. And the in situ gear is kept low. And sometimes the drilled bolts are a bit elderly on 8mm hand drilled pieces.

Magnus struggling on the crux pitch on l' Elan

The routes are all equipped with belays. And most of the anchors have at least one good bolt in it. Just some extra piece of cord can be useful to bring on the climb to be able to change when the in situ is looking a bit used.

Photo Magnus Eriksson


"after a couple of tries we finally found a couple of days when we both was off from work at the same time. I had a late evening call with Magnus and it didn't take long until we had decided where to go. We both like cracks and granite and we both like camping. So de Pierre was an easy target.

A quick agreement of equipment and a RDV was set up for the next morning at 08:15 at the Montanvers train station heading for the fist one up at 08:30. A raisonnable time indeed!

As always it's a bit interesting to see if any other teams are heading to the same area. A train filled with aspirants from ENSA school could mean trouble but since most of them was equipped with a set of technical ice tools we thought they must have an other goal for the day.

Once down on " la Merde" or what is left of this shrinking glacier we had 2 other teams heading the same's ok...

As always, the ladders on the opposite side takes its effort, specially with a sac a dos camping size bag on my back. But, as always, I take it as good biceps training.

As we have all day to use we take it a bit slow, no rush to get back to the last train, just a great day out and our goal, l' Elan, is a bit harder and should hold less climbing party's. So we take our time, repacking our gear and slowly approach our goal, at the center of the flames, a beautiful line heading up trough the center of the most obvious pillar on the face.

By some unclear reason it is decided that I should take the first pitch since it is described as a little "dusty"!

And since we are right on with it I might just take the first 3. And then we change and Magnus continues with the next couple of three...well yes, great plan indeed!

Specially since it is like, 6c, 7a/7b, 6c+...hurray! The first meter turns out to quite easy though, but the next 44 is not. But there is frequently good spots for a piece or two, just excellent climbing. Never desperate, just good fun. Something that continues on the second pitch, but by far much harder.

Soon I find my self fighting hard and suddenly some five meters below my last piece, a yellow alien. Magnus had obviously payed most attention on the German belay Neighbor, who holds nice lips and I must say is quite nice. Well, back to business, I pull my self back up and try to focus on my own tiny holds. And this time it works out a bit better.

Feeling heavily psyched I happily announce my willingness to lead the next pitch as well. Which looks like a perfect finger and hand crack from my point of view. Couldn't be more wrong, turns out to be a most difficult to protect in between crack and I am just fighting my way up again. Very happy to leave the sharp end to Magnus for the next pitches to come...

After a splendid evening and comfy night we head up to the wall again next morning. This days goal is the classic "la Reprise". A seven minute approach this time. Which is a reprise to me, but last time we made a variant after the second pitch at today I am looking forward to the 7a finger and hand pitch at the top of the route.

As often I have hard to concentrate when following as a second, not used to climb on "top rope". But it is a couple of nice leading pitches by Magnus. Very good climbing on sometimes bad pro.

La Reprise

Finally, we are up at the test pitch. Since we have divided the pitches between us, it is Magnus lead. But honest as always he declaim him self tired. And as a senior I can glide trough and get this splendid lead in my bucket! " My type of pitch, finger crack and biceps...!

Crux pitch on la Reprise, finger jamming!

Pierre de Flammes

Approach via train Montenvers

Approx 1 1/2-2h walk down the mer du glace ladders and traversing to the other side up towards Refuge Charpoua. Big white dot at the start on the ladders.


2x50m rope, 1 set of cams blue Alien-3#Camalot, double of mid sizes, 1 set of wires, 8-10 QD's

Best routes

L' Elan Vertical, 7 pitches. 7a/7b. 250m

P1-7: 6c, 7a/7b, 6c+, 6c, 6b, 6b, 4c

Start at a slab, no visiable in situ but aim for the obvious crack system that goes up towards the roof formation above.

Topo l'Elan Vertical

La Reprise, 10 pitches. 7a, 300m

P1-10: 3a traverse, 6b, 6c, 6c, 6b+, 6a+, 7a, 6c, 6a+, 3c

Travers out on the grass ledge. Continue passing the first anchor and go up an other 5m to the right passing a bolt on the way

La Reprise no#4


Camping at its best


//The 2 most important days in your life. The day you are born and the day you figure out why


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