Mar 11 05
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The forecast had been for snow, snow, and more snow, but what we got was sun, sun, and more sun, and the occasional early morning cloud.

We decided to put the alpine climbing back on the agenda…

Valleé Blanche & the Cosmiques

But winter alpine climbing is a serious adventure, so we thought we’d do a little acclimatisation in style. We took a trip up to the Aguille du Midi and spent a night in the Refuge des Cosmique. I love being up on the Col du Midi, especially when nearly everyone else descends down to the valley. It’s a very special place.

Refuge des Cosmique

Inside the Refuge des Cosmique

Posh desert in a posh hut

Spectacular sun set from the Refuge des Cosmique

About to start the descent of the Vallee Blanche

Frendo-Ravanel

So, after that acclimatisation, we spent a day deciding what route we could do. We opted for Frendo-Ravanel on the Grand Montets ridge above the Argentier Glacier – easy access, fairly easy ski out (despite heavy bags), and an interesting route with a couple of good technical sections.

As we waited for the first lift up Pete recognised a guy he had met at last years International Meet – Krzysztof from Poland. Funnily enough, they were aiming for the same route. :shock:

After crossing a bergschrund, and a couple of hundred metres of steep snow, the technical ice began. It’s all fairly easy at first, but it gets harder and harder with each pitch culminating in a very thin mixed rock and ice pitch as the crux had a distinct lack of ice – no photos of that pitch, I was concentrating too hard on the belaying. :eek:

Waiting for the first lift at Grand Montets

Steep snow slope approach to the Frendo-RavanelYou can just make out our skis waiting for our return way below...

Steep snow slope approach to the Frendo-Ravanel
You can just make out our skis waiting for our return way below…

The Frendo-Ravanel, route is reasonably easy to start.

The Frendo-Ravanel, route is reasonably easy to start.

It starts to get a fair bit thinner, steeper, and harder!  Every pitch is tougher than the last in fact.  This shot is on the first crux pitch.  The next pitch was desperate - virtually no ice, and super thin rock moves!

It starts to get a fair bit thinner, steeper, and harder! Every pitch is tougher than the last in fact. This shot is on the first crux pitch. The next pitch was desperate – virtually no ice, and super thin rock moves!

Krzysztof and his climbing partner following us up the route

Series - Chamonix 2011

  1. Deep powder at Planpraz
  2. Off piste powder heaven at Le Tour
  3. Crochues-Berard traverse
  4. Frendo-Ravanel
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