Nov 18, 2018

Le Royaume de Nour - Aiguille du Fizz

Or, dr Jekyll & mr Hide. Autumn times in Chamonix and as usual when the numbers of tourists drops the Compagnie du Mont Blanc close down the lifts, in exception to one great strange thing; they tent to keep the Flegere Telepherique open, but to access what??  The closure of the other lifts makes access to the more interesting climbs more or less impossible. Like opening of there Midi lift at 08:30 nd closing at 16:00…, so much for us that buys the annual pass!

Mont Blanc view
So, focus has to go elsewhere. To all that say that Chamonix isn´t for sport climbers. Well, that is only true for all those that hasn’t been here for the sporting. It´s a bunch of great routes, only problem is that one shouldn’t be to strict about the grades. Its not the land of winning a easy victory to claim a high grade, you have to fight hard for it cause the grades are not on the lower scale. A 7a is a hard 7a, or just as in many cases, just a number to be overcome.
Platé with le Royaume de Nour
The south face of massife des Fiz, sector Platé, has a couple of interesting bolted routes up to 750 meter of climbing and in various grades.
A new route was put up by Christophe Bressand and Emmanuel Ratouis in 2017. A 22 pitch route up to 6c. And a perfect moment for a nice day out.
As we have already climbed the neighbor ”TIR”, a slightly easier climb over 650m, we new the way to the base of the route. A somewhat hiking struggle following an old flood bed, gully, up to the rock face.

And then the last bit of grass climbing, pulling as gentle as possible on the spring hay.
Once at the start, well marked by 2 drilled bolts and an old fixed carabiner, overlooking the first pitch it didn’t look to much inspiring. Loose flakes in a good combination with detached crumbly rock and bad placed bolts…well have to give it a try.
The first section goes ok but then for the third bolt, I feel a little unhappy when its possible to just pick the whole thing out from the drilled hole, with bolt and hanger! 
”WTF didn’t they just draw the route over the ledges just below instead, its a much more natural line” I yell out. At the same time as I see the NEW bolts some 10 meters below me, heading over those and the same ledges… 
Ok, a small retreat to the right route, and we are ”en route”

A first long rightwards traverse pitch, 60m to the belay, and then up for some 10meters before sending a long traverse back to the left again.
3rd pitch is again up over some bad quality rock, except for a short section of a couple of perfect hand jams.
The bolts are placed in a very good distance, but on every second pitch they are pulled appart and at some places just made for a really bad experience in case of a fall. Like on the first 6c pitch. We figure out that they must have been taking turns when bolting, giving it a dr Jekyll/mr Hide feeling.

Anna high on Platé
As always on Platé the first section of rock is quite bad, loose and unpredictable. But then it changes to more solid and really nice climbing with good friction. And the views are just stunning, overlooking the impressive of massif du Mont Blanc.
The wall itself also starts to feel big, pitch after pitch of climbing but still no sign of the summit. 
The first ascenders has made a great job in finding a most spectacular line and the 6c pitch section ends over a roof which is traversed out left. Then followed by steep face climbing and slabs until it crosses an old route out rightwards and finishes over a section of very interesting rockformations. 

When reaching the last section of what it looks, easier climbing with 5a, 5b, 4c, I change back to my running shoes. Which quickly turns out to be a bad decision. Suddenly I am high above the last bolts on slabs that becomes more and more steep and just a little to much slippery…giving the route climbing all the way into the tile!
The sun has already set and we have the most scenic lights over Mont Blanc and its neighbor peaks. 
And a good 1 1/2hour hike back down to the waiting FORD.
Solid girl on solid rock!
Le Royaume de Nour 
Aiguille du Fizz, Vallee l´Arve

Vallée l´Arve new edition

50m rope
12 QD´s plus free biners/slings for the belays

Park at le Guebriant, Village Vacance.
Follow a faint path that crosses an old bed stream, gully, which is then followed all the way up to the base of the face. The route starts high up left of the stone filled gully on the right side of a small free standing pillar.
Picture from the old Topo Valle l´Arve


Walk north west towards the path to Refuge du Platé 

Nov 11, 2018

How to tie in to your harness

Fact: Tying in, whether you’re threading the rope bottom-up, or top-down, is the single most important part of your climbing day. There’s no room for distractions. So whatever method you’re comfortable with, and will nail 100% every time, that’s the “safest” method for you.
But, is there a best or safest method to tie in to your harness?

You always want to ensure that you tie in to both the leg loop and waist belt tie-in points. Personally, I learned to tie in bottom-up, and since I am quite a bit of traditional and superstitieux person I have stayed that way. For me it also makes sense to see the eight well in front of me when I have thread the first part of the eight in my harness, making it easier to follow out, nice and clean. But this is when I tie in with a figure of eight.
When I tie in with a bowline, I always thread it top-down, because it makes a cleaner ending of the knot when I secure the extra rope with an overhand knot, which then sets on the downside of the harness, away from the loop. And, it is also easier to measure the length of rope neede for the knot, from the loop to my knee is the perfect length to tie and secure the knot.
Also for Adam Ondra*, the method depends which knot he uses: “With the bowline I go top down,”  “With the eight I go bottom-up”. A quick look shows that many other climbers do the same. U.S. National Champion Sean Bailey* and Patxi Usobiaga* are bottom-uppers when they tie in with an eight.
Swiss mountain guide Mathias Hediger/IFMGA has his opinion clear;
”for classic alpinism I am doing figure of eight and for sportsclimbing with lots of falls I am using Prohaska but double or backlooped with double guideknot”
Figure of eight, treaded bottom up

Start of a Bowline/Prohaska
Some people argue that the rope should be thread from above, which reduces the risk of missing the waist loop. If your only tied in to the legs, you will most likely flip and fall up side down, in worst case even fall out of the harness. But, if you ever taken a fall in a Swami belt only, you will have learned the reason why Bill Forrester, already back in 1967, came up with the first prototypes of our modern style of harnesses with integrated leg-loops. Leg-loops are designed to take most of the load when falling. Something they already then knew was the best way to make life more comfortable after a leader fall. In lab testing, it is shown that the leg loops take 70 to 80 percent of the load in a fall. So, if you were to only hit one tie-in point, the leg loop is the one that takes the majority of the load.
So again, the best is of course to do it right and make sure both loops are in the rope. The interesting thing here though is that in my survey most climbers, mountain guides as well as amateurs and climbing professionals, tend to tie in bottom-up when they tie in with a figure of eight. So, my theory (and something most people asked respond to*) is that the knot itself is easier to control when tied in bottom-up.

Then next question, how do you tie in to your harness, in the belay loop or in the waist+leg-loops? Again, personally I do both.
The belay loop is the strongest point on the harness and the only part that is load tested. Anything hard should attach to the belay loop (e.g., a locking carabiner while belaying or rappelling). When reading on they strongly advice; ”Warning: You should not tie anything around the belay loop, including a daisy chain or sling. The belay loop will wear through quicker and is not designed to be used in this fashion. Belay loops are made of nylon webbing.” (

Figure of Eight direct in the belay loop

A few years ago the Germain Alpine Club, DAV, had this discussion on the table. Tying in to the belay loop was thought to be less material consuming and the rope would not move around as much when clipping in on lead, thus way save the harness and make it more secure. This turned out to be more of a theory than the truth. But, DAV, tested both variations and at one point actually recommended to tie direct into the belay loop instead of leg+waist loops. Nowadays they recommend both variations as equal.
Bowline variations called "Prohaska"

Personally, like the German mountain guide Stephan Schanderl, I use both. Just depending on the situation. Most of the time I tie direct in the belay loop, it is the strongest point, and then I use the figure of eight. When I climb something that I know I will have potential to fall on, I more often use variation of the bow line called the " double Prohaska". Since it is easier to un-tie after a fall. And then, because of the construction of the knot, I tie in to both loops, leg and waist, and top-bottom.

A small detail with a huge mythic touch. 

Note: All knots and variations here written in text are from our own experience with no data from any test lab.

*People asked in this survey; Heather Trevaren - KONG representant and climber, Stephan Schanderl - Mountain guide IFMGA/DAV, Carl Lundgren - Mountain guide/SBO, Adam Ondra - Pro climber, Sean Bailey and Patxi Usobiaga are bottom-uppers.