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

//Inget slår känslan av att kliva ut i tomhetens okända öde och känna när marken fångar ens fötter.


  1. Hi, Can I ask how you rate the Crux tent? Im thinking of buying one and would appreciate your thoughts please? Thanks in advance and many happy adventures. Andrew

  2. Hello Christian. Thanks for reading my blog! Regarding the CRUX tent. If you are looking for a light bivy tent this is the best single skin tent I have used. This is to compered with la Fauma and BD which I have also used. I have used this both summer and winter and I am surprised with how good it ventilation. The textile that CRUX uses is really good in my opinion. If you look for a light bivy tent, this is the one. You just have to judge if you like to have an absid or not. I chose to go as light as possible, with out. //Krister