Aug 28, 2016

The Climate Change - a climbers reality

Traverse of the aiguille Rouges - Grande Floria - aig. des Croches - Tour des Croches - lac Blanc

Massif de Mont Blanc from led Aig. Rouges

  This last weeks has been more then warm in the Alps, I would rather use the word hot, as super hot.
So far all the summer months this year has been the warmest ever since we first started to measure air temperaturs for statistics. Breaking records as the best or rather worst athlete ever!

The glaciers are retreating in a speed that is almost visual from one week to the next.
Last year the thickness of the Glacier front of Mer du Glace was 14 meters below the Montanvers train station, this year it is measured to 7 meters. The accumulation zone in the Mont Blanc massif has gone up from 2800m to 3200meters from 2006 to 2016, its a 500meter differens in only 10 years.
Just a couple of years ago I had to cut steeps when going off the same glacier to enter the ladders up to refuge 
d´Envers. Today, well there is almost no glacier anymore. I don’t even bother to bring an ice axe going there.

And that the number of accidents are increasing, well I think so for sure. With more rockfalls reported and a big number of incidents during the whole summer with cornice collapses.
As this latest accident in the monte Rosa massif

Safer on a rock ridge, as here in massif du Beaufortain

  Every year the traffic situation are getting more and more intensive in the town of Chamonix, but not only there. Everywhere around the valley l´Arve, its more and more cars, more and more people. 
Just to get a place to take an evening swim in lac Passy is getting tougher for every summer.
2010 I was living the life of a camper between apartments and cause of that I was ”camping” quite a lot in the area, never a problem to find a parking, now its a struggle every time.
And of course this have a great impact of the general heating problem.
As a lady in her nice 4WD sub said when I approached her asking if it was very troublesome to start the car again if she turned the ignition on while just sitting parked outside SuperU.
-Its so warm outside so I want the AC running.
!!!What!! Are you serious?!
The Overshoot day comes earlier every year, this year it was 8th august, last year 13 august…
In Sweden we live as we would have 3,7 planets instead of the only one we have, so far at least.
The greenhouse gases as carbon dioxide is an escalating problem. Link to weather maps.
To absorb current levels of carbon dioxide emissions would need more or less twice as much forest as we have now, and we just keep on cutting.

  An other ”problem” is that people spend more and more time down in the valley, more tourists visit just as regular tourists, not as climbing ones. Rather taking the advantage of the comfort of using lifts for day trips and nice exclusive hotels and restaurangs in the evenings than spending a night in a remote refuge. Where you might have to share a table with some you don’t know and for sure have to share a converture from someone else, side by side and not even the smallest little shower in sight.
This is a growing problem for the huts around in the massif, refuges Tete Rousse and Gouter as an exceptial exception. Just counting on how long the new Gouter refuge will last, hovering on the rapidly melting permafrost…
But also the impact on a small valley area as Chamonix takes a huge effect. And the air quality is locally well know for being very poor. 
Every time I go up with the Brevent lift there is always someone in the bin that are getting stressed and almost upset about seeing people that are walking up the zig zags below the lift.
-Just think what will happen if they brake an ankle there??
Yea, just think!
So it says a lot about peoples mind of doing in their opinion ”rad stuff” if walking to Brevent is way over normal peoples average.
Ok I know, I am bragging a little or a lot, you tell me, but I am just trying to raise a thought…

  One more thing, that might be adding just as quick and for a more dangerous sake is caused of what the warmer weather might do to the access to many of the huts. Just as this summer the local Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix had to have an other new access up to ref. Charpoua, because of all the serac falls from the glacier above. Which has come to a bigger problem for each year. But how long will there actually be a glacier!?
It was quite an investment for the community for sure.
And at the same time they took the old access ladders away, for some stupid reason. Now any climber heading for Flammes du Pierre or le Dru has to cross the Charpoua glacier twice…!
The problem that the warmer summers makes is that there will be an escalating, as I see it at least, number of rock- and serac falls. 
At this point the hiking trail under the west face of Eiger is closed cause the high risk that the whole serac and glacier might be tumbling down the valley and over the trail and maybe even over the railway?!
Something that already has cost the Jungfrau Bahn some 375.000Chf.

  For me the last weeks heating temp with all the number of accidents that have been due to just mentioned causes has made me a bit more aware and holding me back from going out to do any climbing that involves high mountain risks, as climbing on rock that are getting heated up from the sun, everything exposed due to rockfall, moving over mixed terrain etc…

Aig. Grande Floria

  Instead I have focused more on taking the advantage of stabil air masses giving very good paraponte and 
speed-flying conditions. 
Still a climbers heart need some rock now and then and since it is most of the time just to warm to be climbing lower in the valley, best done between 20.00-08.00 hours.
If you want to avoid the head torch option the upper valley might be a better choice.
And if you like me like like to avoid glaciers as much as possible the  Flégèr and l´index areas is a most perfect destination.
Most of the routes are very easily accessed from the top chairlifts and the approaches are mostly straightforward. 
And, most important, the rock is high quality solid gnejs.
Well ok, it is not even close to the magic red granit to be found on the other side of the valley. But thats one of the reason you ended up on the Aiguille Rouge side, no?
Even though the magnificent friction found on the mont Blanc side is just brilliant, still the gnjes isn’t to bad and its always nice with variation right!?
And second, you will most likely end up surrounded by the average ”climbing Tourist” that think that screaming any unhearable ”command” or any information what so ever to the partner on the other side of the end of the rope is just as important or maybe even more important than the actually climbing…
Well since ignoring isn’t an alternative wearing earplugs is.
And to be honest, its not that many climbing T´s around…

Traversée les Rouges

Grande Floria traverse towards Croches and lac Blanc
  Grande Floria - via ”Soho” and Neige on Kili” via aig. des Croches - Tour des Croches  and lac Blanc.

”After a couple of espresso discussions with my self I decided to head for a Flegere tour, l´Index, and Grande Floria via the route ”Soho” A moderate 6b+ at the ”Sector Afrique”.
Soho gives a little steeper start to the classic, is it?, Les Neiges du Kilimanjaro. A total of 200mts climbing to the lower Bastion of Floria. Form there its possible to joins any of the final routes up to the summit of Grande Floria (2888mts) ”Fraise des Boâtchs” 5c (5a obligatory) gives a nice 3 pitch finish.

On the Roof Traverse on "Killi"

Well its not only a steeper start, the 6b crux sure comes hard!
a nice cake at ref. Blanc
From the Grandes views summit its an easy descend, not totally obvious thought down its east arete to col des Crouches. From here its even more easy to head back to the chair lift at l´Index. 
A much more interesting finish is to complete the full traverse of the Aiguilles over aig. Crochue all the way back down to Lac Blanc. 
Have a nice cooling swim in the lake and a beautiful Panache at the refuge. 
Stay the night or…do the modern average heading back to the lift for a nice dinner back in town… :-)

Refuge lac Blanc

40 or 50 mts rope
10 QD´s (for Soho and Neige on Kili)
Climbing shoes if yo uno any of the direct starts. Via col de Floria and ”Voie Normal” only boots or hikers.

For the complete traversée its something between 3-5hours, depending on how much you can move together. 

local climber at lac Blanc

/Simple cussing on a cowboys horse isn’t taken as a note in the lords notebook

after a nice day out...

Aug 15, 2016

Sale Athée - Aiguille du Moine

  Sale Athée - Aiguille du Moine

  Some pictures just fetches my eyes and just stays on my retina. As when I saw the top over Bernese Oberland with the most beautiful route ”Motörhead” at Eldorado at the back cover. I just had to buy it for that picture and just knew I had to climb it one day.
Same thing when I first saw a picture taken high up on the Moine Pillar and the route ”Sale Athée” with the belle stunning views over Mont Blanc and Mer de Glace, trés trés jolie.
And when I had a look on the topo description it was easy to understand the high quality of that particular route, 10 pitches of most hand and finger cracks. A must do!
It was just a matter of finding the time and weather combo…

  After a 2 week trip to Russia and Mont Elbrus followed by a Mont Blanc summit, which maybe wasn’t the best warm up for a steep crack climb, the combo walked in.
A free week-end with warm sunny weather and no thunderstorms in sight, perfect time to go.
The plan, take the afternoon train up to Montanvers and walk in to a bivy spot under Moine. Have a early start, climb and walk back out.
After testing the form at Parc thermal and Pierre au voix I at least felt light from two weeks ”diet” topped with a good day with a really bad stomach which made me even lighter. The ”food poison diet” always works, super light!

Natural is always the best!

  Since Anna as always is very attentif we had a good idea of the new approach via the new ladders which is put up from Mer du Glade, avoiding the old way up to refuge du Charpoua.
The new access starts at the Bidon at the bend of Mer de Glace before the moraine of Glacier des leschaux.

the new approach map
The hardest part of the day turned out to find a nice spot to park the Ford. But once that was taken care of the rest was more like a nice stroll. 
After the first section of the new solid ladders we bump into a couple of glacier scientist´s. How are more then happy to answer and inform all of our huge number of questions. 

Not that you really need to be a scientist to realize that the glaciers around Mont Blanc is retreating, but very interesting to learn that the front has been halved at the front from 14meter deep 2015 
to 7 this year, 2016!
And that the acclimatization zone has risen from 2800mts to 3200mts, 500mts in only 10 years!
With those and many more local glacier fact we slowly continue to ascend the rest of the ladders. Arriving in front of aig. Moine at 18:00, just in time for a after noon coffee with a view.
The sunset from the bivy site at the north side of Moine is just breath taking!

the Ladders!

Afternoon coffee with good flying company and a view
Just Magique!

  The Climb:

”As always, the alarm is set to early and the sleeping bag is to warm and comfy to leave, but the 
morning espresso wins the fight as always and with the morning light over massif du Mont Blanc it tastes even better.

Anna on the scramble access...

  After one snooze the lighter fires up the stove and the espresso cooker heats u.
The final approach up to the base of aig. du Moine takes us an easy 15 min to the fixed rope and an other 35min of scrambling sends us to the base and start of pitch one. We are set!
And, we also have some nice company of a couple of Italians who has the good taste to work for Nutella, belay time are saved!

Pitch one!

  The first pitch sure looks stiff for a 6a but once on the granite makes things easier, the friction is superb. 
Halfway up the second pitch I start to wonder were all our cam devices might be, didn’t we have 2 each of the Aliens?! My lead rack sure looks a bit thin in my opinion…

Having great times on Sale Athée

  If the coffee didn’t wake me up proper the third pitch sure does. A couple of thin moves up a hard protected slab sends me crimping up a twin crack, awkward moves which feels a bit to high in my opinion over a hesitated piece of tiny pro.
But, as it often does, it works out well after some regular basic cussin…
After that, there is regular basic cracks, finally! What a pleasure and we head of cruising, climbing the dream.
Climbing the picture on my retina…”

  Finally down at le Ford at 22:00 hours, time for a dinner and a bottle of wine!

L1 6a série de fissures à l'aplomb du relais, à droite d'un grand dièdre caractéristique.
L2 6a 1 spit droit au-dessus de R1 jusqu'à la vire.
Vire herbeuse
L3 6b+ 2 spits Premier spit difficile à repérer, départ légèrement à gauche sous le relais R4.
L4 6c 1 spit Court passage en laminoir pour passer le toit, puis continuer dans une fissure facile.
L5 6c+ 1 spit Traverse à gauche puis continue dans une fissure à droite d'un dièdre.
L6 7a+/6b+?! 4 spits Grosse fissure de 45 mètres. Trés belle!
L7 6c 1 spit La voie passe dans une fissure fine (1 spit au milieu) puis traverse d'un mètre sous une inversée plate et continu dans une fissure.
L8 6c+ 1 spit Fissure fine intense puis légèrement à droite.
L9 7a 2 spits Ne pas rater la traversé à droite sur une fissure horizontale après environ 20 mètres avant une grosse fissure (1 spit est placé au départ de la traversée, mais on ne le voit que si on se décale vers la droite. ATTENTION AU TIRAGE.
L10 7c/7c+ ou 7b/A0 7 spits. Premier point difficile à clipper puis dalle raide exigeante jusqu'au surplomb final. Le passage de ce dernier est morpho mais on peut tirer au spit. Un pas engagé en fin de longueur pour rejoindre la terrasse salvatrice. Superbe longueur. 7b jusqu'à l'avant dernier spit. 7c/7c+ pour l'ensemble de la longueur.

2x50m rope
1 small set of wires, 1-7#
Blue-Red Alien´s, 2 st #red
0,75-3 Camalot, 2 st #0,75-1

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