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steve shea

climber
Jan 24, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
Nice! It used to have that perennial gorgeous upper ice field with just a few runnels leading up. In that photo it looks changed even with all the snow. Great photos jaaan. Brings back great memories.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jan 24, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
Wow Peter, that 'round the corner... ' shot of yours - the hanging glacier in the middle of the shot - maybe the Envers de Blaitière(?) - has all but gone now!

Edit: I said hanging glacier... in fact it appears that it might join up with the Glacier du Tacul/Mer de Glace, but unfortunately that bit is obscured!

Here's another showing the Talefre basin better, with the Verte, Droites, Courtes and Triolet on the skyline. I reckon the Talefre glacier just won't be there in another few years.

Credit: jaaan
steve shea

climber
Jan 24, 2013 - 01:56pm PT
Wow. From the breche des Droites it was only a couple of raps to the snow. In your last photo it looks like 500 meters!!! And the Nant Blanc Face, unbelievable! Gone.
pneame

Trad climber
Tampa, FL
Jan 24, 2013 - 02:11pm PT
It doesn't quite reach round the base of the Requin ridge - this was taken either in 75 or 76 -
Aig du Requin from the path below the Envers hut
Aig du Requin from the path below the Envers hut
Credit: pneame

The shot of the Talefre basin is very sad indeed, Jon. I hadn't realized it had retreated so much.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jan 24, 2013 - 02:13pm PT
Thanks for that - shame it didn't quite reach! While we're about it, here's the Tour Glacier...

2012
2012
Credit: jaaan

I've got some better shots of it. I'll add them when I find them.

Glacier du Tour:

2010
2010
Credit: jaaan

And the Argentière side of the Droites and the Verte:

2010
2010
Credit: jaaan





jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jan 24, 2013 - 03:53pm PT
And the Nant Blanc Face, unbelievable! Gone.

No Steve, the picture has deceived you! The face you see there is the face with the Y couloir in it, above the Charpoua. The Nant Blanc is on the back of that. Probably a lot less snowy than you remember, I'll grant you! In fact you can see the Nant Blanc in the photo just above this post.
steve shea

climber
Jan 24, 2013 - 05:06pm PT
jaaan so right! I was shocked to see so much glacier recession. One bit of good news is that here in the Tetons the Black Ice Couloir has returned. It is not to its former size but a few cold snowy winters and cool summers have allowed the glace to stay and build. Thanks again for posting the photos.
Degaine

climber
Jan 24, 2013 - 06:27pm PT
Yeah, the glaciers in Chamonix have taken a big hit in the last 12 years.

Here's a good site (in French) that has great comparison photos:
http://www.glaciers-climat.fr/Glaciers_du_Mont_Blanc_Accueil.html

The lower part of the Argentière glacier (below the major ice fall) has finally separated from the upper portion, whereas in 2000 the ice fall's jumble of seracs flowed seamlessly over what now is a cliff separating the "upper" and "lower" glacier.

Anyone who has skied the Vallée Blanche and walked back up to Montevers's upper train station has seen the plaques indicating where the glacier level has been over time starting in 1990. 23 years ago, the glacier came more or less right up to the base of the pulse gondola (that's why they built the bottom station where they did), now the glacier sits 120 meters below.

The snout of the Bossons glacier has significantly receded and looks nothing like it did even 6 years ago.

A lot of rock fall (see West Face of Les Drus) in areas where the permafrost was holding things together.
Degaine

climber
Jan 24, 2013 - 06:35pm PT
jaaan wrote:
Piola routes - yes, you're right. To some people his name simply means BOLTS, whereas that's just not the case. Certainly he's recently produced quite a few commercially motivated consumer routes, but equally some very bold (almost) trad routes too. You mentioned the Perrons not too long ago... presumably you've climbed up there. Piola's latest route there, le Premier Matin du Monde is such a route with 7a+ climbing and 6c+ oblig - originally he'd said 7a oblig, but knocked that down a bit.

I climbed this route last summer (Aiguille du Peigne):
http://www.camptocamp.org/routes/55117/fr/aiguille-du-peigne-dalle-nw-du-gendarme-3009m-le-ticket-le-carre-le-rond-et-la-lune

Piola went up in 2011 and replaced all of anchor and slab protection bolts with glue-ins. A good mixed route where the cracks are easy to protect with gear, the cruxes have bolts where they need to be, but there are still 4-5 meter run outs on 6a+ slab.

I don't climb 7a, but I have done the Perrons traverse as well as climbed most of this route (not a Piola route):
http://www.camptocamp.org/routes/56672/fr/perrons-de-vallorcine-squatteurs-de-lune

A few years back I was climbing a trad route on the Aiguille de Praz Torrent while Piola was putting up a new route just around the corner for his recently published (2nd edition?) Aiguilles Rouges guidebook.

Cheers.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 07:16pm PT
Question for the Chamonairds out there. As the glaciers recede are people finding artifacts of those whole fell in them long ago?
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 24, 2013 - 07:43pm PT
People who had fallen in glaciers a hundred years before were surfacing in the early 1970's (complete with much speculation as to who they were) so I'm sure that will only accelerate.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jan 25, 2013 - 05:27am PT
@ Degaine.
Piola had already replaced the old bolts on Le Ticket, le Carré... when I climbed it in July 2010. However, I agree with you entirely about the nature of that and the other routes up there. I remember the last but one pitch having only two(?) bolts in it... this one:

Credit: jaaan


The Perrons... for me the Perrons have simply the best multipitch routes in the region. The only modern route I haven't done is in fact the one I mentioned above, Le premier matin du monde, which I doubt I'll be racing up there to do! Besides Squatteurs..., Grévole Directe is good especially combined it with the top half of Alea jacta est. Another good combo is Balade des gens heureux followed by the traverse. There's also another new one in the grade six range called Au coeur de l'anticyclone. It's hardest pitches are 6a+ though in reality Piola has graded it very harshly and it's worth 6b at least. I don't want to flood this thread with photos of the Perrons, but for anyone interested I posted some on another thread some time back. Here: http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=492354&msg=1907589#msg1907589
The guidebook you refer to is in fact volume 2 of the Aiguilles Rouges (rather than a second edition of vol 1). It contains Praz Torrent, Vallon de Bérard, Tré les Eaux, Loriaz, the Perrons, Emosson and a part of Giétroz.

Apologies for the digression!
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jan 25, 2013 - 05:35am PT
@ bhilden

Only last year a diplomatic mail bag that was aboard the old Air India plane, the Malabar Princess 47 years ago, popped out of the bottom of the Bossons Glacier: http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/l-histoire-du-soir/20120829.OBS0753/une-valise-diplomatique-indienne-retrouvee-sur-le-mont-blanc.html

Bits of the plane have been appearing now for years.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jan 25, 2013 - 09:23am PT
Good grief.
Base - that picture of Duane and Dumbass is at Snell's field, right? 1973?
That looks remarkably like Eric and my tents in the background, mine on the left and Eric's on the right (and Eric and me, for that matter).

That was 1984, but I am widely known as a dumbass, so it could have been 1973.

I'll tell you the trippiest route of the trip: All of the ice routes on the Argentiere Glacier were gone by July. They had big blank slab sections and nobody did them.

We had a German friend come back after doing the N Face of the Triolet and said it was barely there.

So we go up in the evening and bivy on the glacier (too poor for the hut just above the glacier). We take off after dark and there was a good moon. That Serac that goes off on the Triolet had this massive field of ice boulders extending way out from the base. You could have easily ice bouldered on them some were so big. That kinda spooked us, so we did one of the direct routes on the left. I've looked at a topo of the face since and think that it was the Lachenal, but I'm not sure.

There was one 200 foot section down low that was 2 inches thick, max, so we just simul-soloed it. After we got over on the steep part of the other route the ice was thick and fairly steep. 80 degrees or so for a way. It was much safer, but any route on that face has to go through the fall zone of the big serac. That thin section wasn't so bad, because the ice was very good quality styrofoam. The rest of the route was as hard as nails and huge dinner plates would come off.

Duane told me a few years ago that after a guide was killed by that serac, it fell out of favor. Certainly by the guides. The regular route looked pretty spooky. Even our route had all kinds of hanging nasties over it. It was a really good route, though. One of the better routes I have done.

A week or two later, that thin section melted and that was that.

Here is a picture of this tiny shepherd's hut at the base of the Eiger. I talked to Mike O'Donnell the other day and he said it was still there in 2003. I hitched over there, took the train through Brig and spent ages waiting it out in this tiny hut with a 3 foot roof. The word in Cham was that it was too dry that year, but I think I read of someone doing it then. Twight or somebody. He was there that year, but I haven't met him to this day. We were basically rock climbers who could ice climb. Twight was already a hotshot back then. Info was so hard to get in those days. No internet, no topost, vague lines on photos. I didn't even know that the Fissure Brown was supposed to be hard until a thread on it started here a year or so back.

Eric wouldn't have been Eric Beck? You guys would have been hanging with us. We had this hobo village that kept getting bigger as more and more Germans moved in next to us. We rigged this micro city under plastic and tree limbs. It was huge by the end of the summer.

I later had a good talk with John Bouchard about climbing there. If we had had somebody pointing us around to the routes in better condition, we would have had a better summer.

Historical trivia: Have any of you hung out in this tiny doghouse beneath the Eiger start? Note the waterfalls behind:

"Dumbasses Big Adventure"
"Dumbasses Big Adventure"
Credit: BASE104

I came "this" (imagine thumb and forefinger 1mm apart) to getting laid on the train through Brig. I was being true to my slut girlfriend who had taken to banging a guy while I was gone. It all worked out well. They married and had a horrible life for 5 years or so.

Anyway, when a girl sees you with a pack covered with ice tools on the way to the Eiger (you always let the word "Eiger" slip), you had a better chance of success. It is a great story. Ravishing American rich girl inviting me to spend the rainy night at her rich father's chalet above Interlaken. Instead I spent the night soaking in a bivy sack burrowed into a hay stack.

Here is a not so bad impact injury:

My whole arm turned black. It looked uber cool.
My whole arm turned black. It looked uber cool.
Credit: BASE104
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jan 25, 2013 - 10:25am PT
I have no idea where most of these pics were taken, but this is 1984 for comparison:

Courtes,Droites? They look filled in, but the lower halves were just l...
Courtes,Droites? They look filled in, but the lower halves were just little snow that would melt in a day.
Credit: BASE104

Credit: BASE104

I think that is the Blatiere on the left.
I think that is the Blatiere on the left.
Credit: BASE104

This is all I saw of the Eiger after about ten days waiting beneath it. Some Chamoix hunters gave me some sort of stout clear booze and said it was "petrol."

In the opinion of Dumbass, the N Face of the Eiger doesn't exist.
In the opinion of Dumbass, the N Face of the Eiger doesn't exist.
Credit: BASE104
g

Hey. That Rock & Ice story about our summer there with Walt is excellent. I'm not sure if it is still out or in the last issue. It is a very honest portrayal of Walt.



Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 25, 2013 - 10:32am PT
It's a privilege to listen to climbers with first-hand experience.

Base
The story is in the last issue of Rock and Ice, Issue 207, January 2013.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jan 25, 2013 - 10:51am PT
Your photos Base:
1 Yes, The Courtes and the Droites.
2 I think maybe the Talefre glacier, with the Aigs Ravanel and Mummery towards the left and the Pointe Isabella/Triolet right at the back? Not completely sure...
3 Yes, the west face of the Blaitière and north face of the Plan.
steve shea

climber
Jan 25, 2013 - 11:41am PT
The season we did the Eiger NF, autumn 79, we stayed at the Alpiglen. Lydia,the owner of Pension des Alpes Alpiglen hired us to do chores around her farm. Digging potatos, churning butter etc. In return she gave us the hayloft in her barn and the occasional meal. We started at noon, bived at the Swallow's Nest and Brittle Ledge and finished about 10/11 am day three. Being alpine history freaks we even met Frau Von Almen and arranged a weather check. She flashed lights for us our first night confirming the forecast we had gotten from Geneva Airport. The weather/meteo in Grindelwald was very primitive. Nothing like Cham which was very good. She was not the original Von Almen but a family member nonetheless and the matriarch of the clan at the time. The family lived in the same house though. We went to see her after we got down and had a celebratory schnapps with her. We had to wait about three weeks. We were the only ones around waiting to climb. Late autumn. Like Duane we had full international villages waiting on most of our prior trips to do it in summer. The Poles had the beat parties and were outstanding climbers. Only made one attempt before and got to the Wet Cave where we bailed due to rock fall. BTW we found remains frozen solid in the Ramp Icefield. The left arm and upper torso of what we thought was a climber. It turned out to be the body of a pilot who crashed into the wall just above near Brittle Ledge. We found out the story a year or so later. My partner was Larry Bruce, the best!
pneame

Trad climber
Tampa, FL
Jan 25, 2013 - 12:21pm PT
Base, my bubble has been well and truly popped, but that's mitigated by the great tale

N. face of the Eiger, possibly, suffering and discomfort certainly - versus - bliss. Really hard call.....

Your picture did have some inconsistencies (no plastic tarp, no nice seat outside the tents, neither Eric Holligan or I would be seen dead in shorts (what would the neigbors think?) which my brain was happily ignoring. Also, Snell's was packed in 1973, for no reason that I could tell. It was a thoroughly wet summer until August.

At the first sign of sun, Eric and I rushed onto the hill to do the Courtes with the following series of events:

See the blue sky - woohoo! Argentiere Cirque 1973
See the blue sky - woohoo! Argentiere Cirque 1973
Credit: pneame

Somewhat loaded slopes....

Aig. de Triolet 1973
Aig. de Triolet 1973
Credit: pneame

After the guided parties all retreated, and we had started the wading process, we thought that maybe, just possibly, they might be right....

Eric walking out of the Argentiere cirque
Eric walking out of the Argentiere cirque
Credit: pneame

Yes, Jon. I do occasionally rope up on glaciers!
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 25, 2013 - 12:31pm PT
History at the end of the page: Le Refuge de Leschaux 1930 (La Montagne 1930)


Le Refuge de Leschaux today:
http://www.refuges.info/point/239/refuge-garde/mont-blanc/refuge-de-leschaux/
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