Long Day in Chamonix

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Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 16, 2013 - 10:31am PT
One gets a bit jaded reading about all the amazing speed climbing and link-ups being done these days. Still, this one by Jon Griffith in Chamonix is awe inspiring: up and down two 3,000 foot Argentiere north faces - the Verte and Les Droites, then up Les Courtes and ski down the back and back to town.

http://www.alpineexposures.com/blogs/chamonix-conditions/7454504-solo-link-up-of-aiguille-verte-n-face-ne-face-of-les-droites-and-n-face-of-les-courtes

Whew! I earned a beer just reading about it.

Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Mar 16, 2013 - 11:16am PT
Great, incredible photography.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 16, 2013 - 01:15pm PT
It looks like good conditions.

The athletic ability is becoming a honed science. These routes are fully soloable, and for a good climber it becomes an adventure in stamina.

A friend of mine was talking to me about Ueli Steck and the program he has been going through. Full blow sports medicine and training. We don't do that here for climbers.
WBraun

climber
Mar 16, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
But !!!!!

They haven't done anything yet!

They still ended up in the same place they started ......

:-)
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 16, 2013 - 03:00pm PT

Holy macaroni. I don't know about a beer, Rick,
I want to sleep for a week!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Mar 17, 2013 - 10:28pm PT
Thanks for the Thread Ricky A. A treat to read. Love the Chamonix area.

Please give G. howdy's. Cheers, lynne
MMCC

climber
New Zealand
Mar 19, 2013 - 02:10pm PT
Awesome.

Good commentary here from Duane Raleigh...

http://www.rockandice.com/lates-news/the-big-freaking-deal-aint-bouldering
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Mar 19, 2013 - 02:13pm PT
He tilted the camera!!!111

DMT
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Mar 19, 2013 - 10:48pm PT
A great Thread. What a wonderful world....what great opportunity is given to so many. Cheers, lynnie
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Mar 20, 2013 - 04:57am PT
We need a damn cable car to the shoulder of the Pal Glacier.

Approaches suck.

Can you imagine a night out on the town in Bishop, and then getting off the cable car just before dawn on the Palisade Glacier?
Dolomite

climber
Anchorage
Mar 20, 2013 - 10:20am PT
Ten replies in four or five days proves Duane Raleigh's excellent point. I did Les Courtes (1980), but standing at the base of Les Droites scared the crap out of me. I can't believe how often it gets climbed these days. Kudos to Griffith--he's the real deal (but, the dude is laying with fire.).
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Mar 20, 2013 - 11:14am PT
We need a damn cable car to the shoulder of the Pal Glacier.

Approaches suck.

Can you imagine a night out on the town in Bishop, and then getting off the cable car just before dawn on the Palisade Glacier?

I hope you are joking! We don't need that here!



That is an amazing feat by JG. I believe he has the record for the fastest time up Cassin ridge now too. Great athlete, and he also takes kick-ass photos! Love his blog!
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 20, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
There is no cable car up the Argentiere. There was a ski lift, but it was only for the lowest part of the Glacier. Just a hike, and not a bad one at that. They might have built one, but the upper glacier is really flat and not a ski destination.

I know that Rick has done some long Chamonix ice climbs, but you will never understand true exhaustion until you haul ass up one of those routes.

The only one I did, because it had been a dry winter and only the Triolet was barely in condition, was probably the most exhausting day of my life.

There was no snow and we did one of the direct routes rather than the regular route. There was a couple of hundred feet where the ice was 2 inches thick. It was soft and nice on that part but no protection was possible.

The rest of the route was bullet hard dinner plate ice and that meant a hell of a lot of axe swings. I was never much of an ice climber, meaning I was a rock climber who strapped on crampons and went at it, but the shear mileage was awful on the steep part, which was 80 degrees max.

Doing those three routes means that he was in truly Superman condition. They are all 2500 to 3000 feet long and just holding your arms over your head all day will kill most people. To do that many axe swings in a row is unreal.

I was sipping scotch with Duane Raleigh a couple of years ago when he told me of the sports medicine work that Ueli Steck goes through. In Europe, they don't have the big pro sports that we have here. Steck was trained under the supervision of a whole gaggle of docs and has nigh superhuman strength and endurance.

Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Mar 20, 2013 - 05:01pm PT
I hope you are joking! We don't need that here!

Just joking!

rmuir

Social climber
From the Time Before the Rocks Cooled.
Mar 20, 2013 - 05:55pm PT
Man! Truly fit just about sums it up.

I soloed the N Face of Les Courtes back in '77 during the Summer. Seldom have I been so hammered on a descent... Maybe it was being kicked out of the hut at a ridiculous pre-dawn start, or maybe it was all the Drambuie during dinner, or just the tension of being out-there on the singularity, but it was a hella down-climb of that slope to the east. (I think Jack Roberts went for a 500' slider over the 'shrund there a week earlier.)

Damn fine effort!

(I'd like to point out to Werner that getting back to the same point is the point... As he well knows.)
Berner

Mountain climber
Switzerland
Apr 5, 2013 - 01:01pm PT
I was sipping scotch with Duane Raleigh a couple of years ago when he told me of the sports medicine work that Ueli Steck goes through. In Europe, they don't have the big pro sports that we have here. Steck was trained under the supervision of a whole gaggle of docs and has nigh superhuman strength and endurance.

probably I get it wrong (sorry, my english isn't that good) but just to let you know: There is not a special kind of sports medicine that Ueli Steck goes through. It is not a long time ago, when he finally could join the Physiotherapist and Docs who work for the swiss gouvernement and the national olympic programm. Btw he is in a anti doping programm as well.
Of course he has to pay everything by himself because mountaineering is not a olympic sport... So there is for sure no bulk of docs around him and the training schedule is made by his physio and himself

greetings from switzerland
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Apr 14, 2013 - 09:21am PT
More from the Chamonix area
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 14, 2013 - 09:38am PT
Thanks, Marlow!

It takes a helicopter to capture the scale of Mt. Blanc and the absurdity of doing that traverse in under 9 hours.

I loved the part where he is sprinting past roped up parties on the standard route.

I appreciated his poignant words on the loss of his friend on the first attempt, and the eternal question of why do such things.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
May 6, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
Mont Blanc supercracks: http://www.alplib.com/mont-blanc-super-cracks-fr-lambertogiovanni-xml-307_314-8901.html
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
May 6, 2013 - 12:31pm PT
Digital Crack 8a+, Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
May 6, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
Arête sud Aiguille du Moine massif du Mont-Blanc
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
May 27, 2013 - 06:44am PT
Research: Some causes behind escalating rock-fall in the Alps around Chamonix.
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5 Ludovic Ravanel
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5 Ludovic Ravanel
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5 Ludovic Ravanel
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5 Ludovic Ravanel
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5 Ludovic Ravanel
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5
Credit: France Culture Papiers Numero 5
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jun 7, 2013 - 11:51am PT
Glacier d'Argentière Mont-Blanc massif dry tooling
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jun 7, 2013 - 11:58am PT
Rapport pollution ARSMB Chamonix Mont-Blanc Vallée de L'Arve
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 7, 2013 - 12:06pm PT
Great stuff, Marlow! I was surprised how quickly my French is returning.

I wonder if the incidence of rockfall in Yosemite Valley, which doesn't have the same permafrost issues as Mt. Blanc, has also accelerated. Perhaps Greg Stock has statistics on that.

In any case, no matter how little ice is there, enchaining Les Courtes and Les Droites dazzles me.

John
McCfly

climber
Jun 7, 2013 - 02:16pm PT
This is all the kinda stuff coming from a background as a endurance athlete that made climbing so appealing to me. I am a long way from any of these guys and many of those dreams may now never come to fruition due to overuse type injury. It wont stop a guy from trying dreaming though and trying his darndist.

Threads like these are what give me butterflies inside and awaken my soul. Something about the alpine that just pure rock does not do for me.

Now if i could just do something about these two dam mutching dogs I love so much I could make my way to France and get on with things. They wont live forever i suppose and maybe my feet will get batter? ekk did i think that!!!!
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jun 22, 2013 - 01:30pm PT
Having a good time in Chamonix - climbing for fun: Escalade, Câline Rocher des Mottets Mont-Blanc massif Chamonix Mountain Festival
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jul 4, 2013 - 12:42pm PT
Chamonix valley official website - webcam, photos and so on...
http://www.chamonix.com/welcome,0,en.html

Base: as long as the classics are bolted, they're all right. ;o)
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 4, 2013 - 01:08pm PT
Marlow,

Get thine ass off of the pretty rock climbs. You don't go all the way to Chamonix to go cragging!!!

I will send you a list of classics. Don't die.
perswig

climber
Jul 4, 2013 - 03:45pm PT
Sweet Mont-Blanc mixed link, Marlow. Couple of 'gulp' moments there.

Thanks.
Dale
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Aug 16, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Between Chamonix and Martigny
Between Chamonix and Martigny
Credit: John Robert Cozens
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 8, 2013 - 10:33am PT
Chamonix-Mont Blanc
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 24, 2013 - 10:45am PT

Escalade Cascade de Doran Sallanches Chamonix Mountain Festival

Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Oct 3, 2013 - 11:59am PT
Train du Montenvers Mer de Glace
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Nov 11, 2013 - 10:04am PT
Chamonix: the Cradle of Alpinism


The longest wingsuit jump in the Alps linked: http://m.epictv.com/media/podcast/longest-wingsuit-jump-in-the-alps-over-taconnaz-glacier-%7C-long-live-roch-ep-6/259318

Edited: Base - where is that?
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 11, 2013 - 11:46am PT
Credit: BASE104
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Nov 12, 2013 - 10:19am PT
Bump for content.....
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 13, 2013 - 10:22am PT
Summits with crosses are cool....

Credit: BASE104
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Nov 15, 2013 - 01:09pm PT
Rock and Ice group in Chamonix 1954
Standing (l-r): A.N.O., Ray Greenall, Don Whillans. Sitting &#...
Standing (l-r): A.N.O., Ray Greenall, Don Whillans. Sitting (l-r): Joe Brown, Fred Ashton, Nat Allen, Ron Moseley
Credit: The Hard Years. Joe Brown.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Nov 17, 2013 - 11:46am PT
Aiguille des Drus voie normale Mont-Blanc massif et premier saut en base jump wingsuit

First climbing up to the Madonna, then jumping and flight...

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Nov 17, 2013 - 01:52pm PT
Wow. Great stuff! I have only been to Chamonix once in 1993, and it really struck a chord with me. I would love to climb there, and live to tell the tale.

Any Cham local want to "trade a trip"? I can set you up for a gentlemanly ascent of El Cap, if you can get me up something fun and semi-proud in Cham. And if you can include the Telepherique Approach, so much the better!

Your mountains are so beautiful. But man oh man, so many deaths every year!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Nov 17, 2013 - 01:55pm PT
^^^^ That's a pretty sweet deal there....

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 17, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
Guys have married world class cardio/running/slogging capacities with alpine acumen and crazy experience and drive and viola - sh#t gets done.

I have learned in several arenas that if you have the knack, the rest is just practice, and getting mentored by those who are one or a thousand steps ahead. Like these guys . . .

Their understanding comes not from evaluating the alpine arena from outside, but from spending time in the thick of it. And that direct experience is nothing like what they thought it was, or could ever have imagined, from afar.

Imagine the experience, the exhileration. Gives the rest of us a star to dream on.

Excellente, caballeros.

JL
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 2, 2013 - 12:55pm PT

L'arête des Cosmiques à l'Aiguille du Midi
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 2, 2013 - 01:04pm PT

Pointe Lachenal - Voie Cecchinel Jager - Chamonix Mont-Blanc massif
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 2, 2013 - 03:09pm PT
You need to be in good cardio condition to go fast, and not going fast is the A #1 way to get whacked. During my summer there, there was an average of one death per day, or something wild like that. The helo's were doing a fairly constant and brisk business. Their base was next to Snell's Field, so seeing them come down with a body in the litter was a fairly common occurrence. Cham was the only place where I met someone who ended up dying.

I have some great stories of coming _this_ close to being beheaded by a falling rock.

The funnest summer of my life. I highly recommend Chamonix to anyone.

I was 6 foot and 135 lbs. My resting pulse was 40 or thereabouts. Duane and I had been working on a seismic crew all winter and spring, living off of a can of tuna per day. We would hike up to the Midi rather than spend money that could have spent on gear. I threw everything away and came back with a pack full of gear, including wearing double boots on the plane.

In August...

We never got on the Eiger, and that was our goal. It had been a dry winter and a wet summer, so it was high rockfall on pretty much every route.

Pete: If you won't hike up to Half Dome to do those routes, you are never going to make it in Chamonix. Go buy those P90X workout videos and get honed.

Is the Bar Nash still there?
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Dec 2, 2013 - 06:22pm PT
L'arête des Cosmiques à l'Aiguille du Midi

Watching that video. I have little alpine knowledge, so can someone tell what use it is to simul while tied into a 10-15 foot spread of rope w/o pro? Seems like if either slips or breaks into a crevase, both are going for the ride.

Edit: ok, after watching it again I see that the lead climber has a fair amount of coil in his hand for deployment. Still seems pretty worthless.
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Dec 2, 2013 - 07:26pm PT
Watching that video. I have little alpine knowledge, so can someone tell what use it is to simul while tied into a 10-15 foot spread of rope w/o pro? Seems like if either slips or breaks into a crevase, both are going for the ride.

That is a common sight there, as this is the way guides whisk their clients along easy snowy, alpine terrain quickly. That video sure looks like a guided situation. Problem with that technique, as you point out is that it doesn't do much good in the event of a fall. Go look at the guides memorial in the Chamonix cemetery. The number of guides killed in action is jaw-dropping, and I would guess the short roping technique without anchorage accounts for a lot of the carnage.

At about 1:38 in that video is the exact place on the Cosmiques Arete where I nearly came to blows with a dickhead French guide about 15 years ago. He had his roped client weaving in and out between myself and my partner, both of us unroped. I was concerned that the client, not looking too solid might fall and take us with him. When I refused to let the client pass me, the guide started screaming at me. That's a great route, but the crowds on it are ridiculous.

Several days later, when climbing the Grand Capucin, I saw the reverse of that situation when Stevie Haston was screaming at a French guide. In that instant, Stevie became on of my heroes and I truly hoped he would kick the guy's ass, even though I had no idea why Stevie was so pissed.

Is anyone else thinking that mixed route on Point Lachenal looks awesome?
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Dec 2, 2013 - 07:51pm PT
Is anyone else thinking that mixed route on Point Lachenal looks awesome?

Way above my pay grade. Sweet video.

Agreed that the earlier vid looks like a guided climb.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Dec 2, 2013 - 09:22pm PT
Is anyone else thinking that mixed route on Point Lachenal looks awesome?

Agreed! It looks superb! Nothing like narrow goulettes running up stellar granite. I was there last spring and although the weather was crap, I got to sample the goods on the Mordica - nouri (?) just around the corner from the Cechinnel Nominee on Pt. Lachennal, then the enormous ski out down the valley blanche with big packs and in mountain boots all the way to the pub.

About the short roping ..... I watched that video and I didn't see anything obviously sketchy. Short roping - as demonstrated in the video - is a guiding specific technique and is critical to proper guiding management on typical alpine terrain where there is much class 3 / 4 mixed with short pitches of harder. There is a few things that are critical:

1) guiding specific! Only for protecting the client. The guide is soloing and can usually expect no security from the rope. Clearly, both of them couldn't expect much from the rope on the glacier but no doubt it was a well traveled cattle track anyway.

2) the guide must be able to catch small loads (sliders, slip... NO FULL BODY WEIGHTS). It is very terrain and rope management dependent, obviously vulnerable to miss application in steep terrain or where shock loading could occur.

3) A properly trained guide can transition effortlessly from short rope to short pitch / long pitch with a high level of security and outpace most anybody, but only with good judgement. At a couple of spots in the video the client was horizontal or even above the guide and one can only hope the guide had judged the footing secure enough that the client would not slip.... or perhaps he was being lazy and crossing his fingers. The guide must be very careful to use only where appropriate.

In summary, it has little value (as demonstrated) to 2 equally experienced partners where more typical simuling or soloing is more appropriate.


The nutzo  midi
The nutzo midi
Credit: Bruce Kay

Grand cap and the fine stone of the pt. lachenel.
Grand cap and the fine stone of the pt. lachenel.
Credit: Bruce Kay

Mordica nouri
Mordica nouri
Credit: Bruce Kay

Goulettes and granite!
Goulettes and granite!
Credit: Bruce Kay

The crazy midi telephreak
The crazy midi telephreak
Credit: Bruce Kay

Traversing to the eggie doo Peigne.
Traversing to the eggie doo Peigne.
Credit: Bruce Kay

Next was the famous beyond good and evil. Unfortunately it started sno...
Next was the famous beyond good and evil. Unfortunately it started snowing and the el cap sized walls started puking. Route is the thin line above. Check the serac up left!
Credit: Bruce Kay
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Dec 2, 2013 - 09:50pm PT
1) guiding specific! Only for protecting the client.
.

There are several places in that vid where they are short roped in class 4 snow/ice terrain and the guide has no ice axe in hand. Guess it is just for psychological support for the Client, but if the Client slips they are both toast.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Dec 2, 2013 - 09:53pm PT
Well, the guy is french after all. They do have a certain je ne ce quois to whatever they do.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 2, 2013 - 10:12pm PT
A degree from the Sorbonne is not a prerequisite for joining Le Compagnie des Guides.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Dec 2, 2013 - 10:18pm PT
nobody ever told them that

funny story about the serac.... a month previous my buddy derek had gone up the Carrington Rouse coulior which is more threatened. On the descent the three of them were packing up and getting their skiis on.... and the serac calves! They run for it as big duster comes boiling down and blows all their sh#t out into the darkness and peppers them with ice bits. They were happy to be alive but even happier to find their skiis, but they never found their rope and misc. other items
Degaine

climber
Dec 3, 2013 - 02:14am PT
Short-roping is a common technique guiding or not guiding (at least in the Alps). Of course it's not fool proof and the leader can't fall, but on easy snow slopes (like in the vid) and with an axe in the snow, you can keep the second relatively safe. It does require tension on the rope.

The Arête des Cosmiques has a lot of spots where you can run the rope behind a horn or place a quick piece of gear, so one needs to be well versed in ridge climbing and mountaineering rope technique in order to be quick.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 4, 2013 - 11:32am PT
The Arete Des Cosmiques video is in fact a guided climb and the client is a celebrity, the great football (soccer) player Zidane. He is most famous for the head butt in the world cup final against Italy that got him ejected.

The head butt is so famous that there is a bronze statue of it:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24747919

The route looks crowded, but still spectacular. One of those great Chamonix routes where the last move is onto the terrace of the gondola station.
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Dec 4, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
The route looks crowded, but still spectacular. One of those great Chamonix routes where the last move is onto the terrace of the gondola station.

I remember executing the last ladder moves on the Cosmiques, and within minutes having a chilly Heineken in my hand. A great way to end an alpine route.

And I also remember the manufactured hole in the rock section that was in a perfect spot for a front point, which made the rock move casual.

Bruce, do I recall seeing you in a picture in the Coast Range on a goulette snaking its way up perfect granite, maybe in a guide book? You are certainly right in saying there is something irresistable about a skinny line of ice going up through perfect granite. . in some ways the ultimate in climbing experiences.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 6, 2013 - 09:13am PT
Bruce

Awesome photos!

Flying on Brévent, Chamonix
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 15, 2013 - 01:18pm PT
Because of The Scottish Armada thread I remembered Tom Patey with the Glenmorangie single malt, which brought me to Chamonix and the Aiguille Sans Nom, Aiguille Verte, Voie Brown-Patey (Joe Brown and Tom Patey). Variantes Laurent-Herry dans le bas. Sortie par la Marsigny-Morh et la fin de l'Arête Sans Nom (Field Ravanel Demarchi Broadrick)
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 15, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
"Ice is for pouring whiskey on" TP
Reeotch

climber
4 Corners Area
Dec 15, 2013 - 03:02pm PT


A nice long day . . .

Tune in about the 15:45 to see the moment of truth.
ruppell

climber
Dec 15, 2013 - 03:05pm PT
All I'm seeing in these youtube videos from marlow is:

"Chamonix The Land of Bolted Cracks"

That just made it number one on my euro destinations. lol
perswig

climber
Dec 15, 2013 - 03:16pm PT
Nice pics, Bruce.
That view looking up the goulette had my fingers twitching.

Thanks for keeping this thread going, Marlow.
Dale
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 16, 2013 - 06:43am PT
Thanks for posting the Patey Brown route/Aiguille Sans Nom video. The Dru Couloir is hard to get a photo of since it is in a cirque formed by the Aiguille Verte/Sans Nom and the video has a straight-on view of the couloir at 11:28.

Those TV Mountain videos have a refreshing style with no narration, few words, and just the sights and sounds of climbing the route. Really gives you a flavor for what the climbing is like.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jan 1, 2014 - 07:14am PT

The Chamonix region
Credit: Marlow
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jan 1, 2014 - 07:14am PT

Climbing from the region on old postcards
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jan 16, 2014 - 10:29am PT
Incredible photography by Jonathan Griffith with a lot of pictures from the Chamonix area: http://jonathangriffith.co.uk/
L

climber
California dreamin' on the farside of the world..
Jan 16, 2014 - 10:57am PT
Love those old postcards, Marlow. And Jon's site is amazing!
bigbird

climber
WA
Jan 16, 2014 - 11:30pm PT
In regards to the alps I pointed out on a different thread...

"This could just be me, but has alpinism in the alps been "dumbed down". Between the cable cars, ease of access and the fact most of the trade routes are done in a day. The alps has turned into more of an "alpine playground" then anything else. The sense of mystery, that defined early alpinism has been lost, replaced by a far more "sportified" alternative."

With regards to Jon Griffith... Your photography is very beautiful... but...
If you can link up the Verte, Les Droites, and Les Courtes in a day you need to find harder things to climb. Lots of Aid lines throughout the alps remain neither free climbed, or climbing in winter... Pick your poison...




Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Jan 16, 2014 - 11:36pm PT
... or you could spend days thrashing through the devils club and alder to get to the Alpine zone and consider yourself cool...

Different place, different game
bigbird

climber
WA
Jan 17, 2014 - 12:01am PT
... or you could spend days thrashing through the devils club and alder to get to the Alpine zone and consider yourself cool...

Different place, different game

Explain?
Michael Fascinan

climber
Chamonix, france
Jan 17, 2014 - 11:34am PT
With regards to Jon Griffith... Your photography is very beautiful... but...
If you can link up the Verte, Les Droites, and Les Courtes in a day you need to find harder things to climb. Lots of Aid lines throughout the alps remain neither free climbed, or climbing in winter... Pick your poison...

Harder is not more....
For most enchainments are about volume........
Harder isn't the yardstick-
bigbird

climber
WA
Jan 17, 2014 - 01:19pm PT


On another thread Donini eloquently stated with regards to the alps...

Athleticisim has trumped exploration and stop watches now measure accomplishments. Remarkable things are being done but in a sanitized situation without the true adventure of exploration.
steve shea

climber
Jan 17, 2014 - 01:35pm PT
Dumbed down? How? The fact that the access is easy makes it the the worlds best place to hone your skills and move on to more remote ranges, or not. The telepheriques and railroads have been there for a long time . Nothing new there. I have been fortunate and climbed in some remote settings around the world. I can say looking back the best quality Alpine climbing I've had in is in the Massif du Mt Blanc. Outstanding rock, unique combination of atmoshperic conditions that create truly plastic ice and 80 degree neve. The amount of vertical feet climbed per dollars spent is unmatched. This in part due to access. But once your up there, on the hill, the climbing is the same as anywhere.

In my time there knew climbers that did the whole approach. I once went up to the Jorrasses by walking up to the Montenvers and on up the Mer. But what is the point? You can end up just as dead with access or not. The mystery you speak of was long gone before I got there in the mid 70's. but you could have fooled me! It was a serious place to be and I learned more there than anywhere because the spirit of alpinism that is everpresent.

I recall a trip to one mt in Tibet. Unclimbed. 7200m. Three months of screwing around for about 10 days climbing. Lots of mystery and discovery but not much climbing. Many thousands of dollars spent. Same kind of thing in Alaska and other trips. I used to be able to live for months in Cham for a mere pittance. And BTW there is more to the Alps than France. Plenty of approaches and relatively remote areas if you want.

I do not see it dumbed down. More civilized? yes. But pretty much the same as it has always been in my lifetime. There were Eiger watchers at the Kleine Schedegg in the 30's!

Exploration is not and has never been a prerequisite for a definition of Alpinism. Unless you only do first ascents. As far as stopwatches go? Come on man? Are you serious? faster and bivouac free ascents have been recorded for years all over the planet. Steck recently in Nepal. I saw one first hand on the North Side of Everest in '86. Loretan up and down the Hornbein in 24 hrs or so. I have explored plenty in my climbing career. I would rather climb actually. I'm not a Patagonian or Alaskan snob. I'll climb anywhere. If exploration is part of your recipe for alpinism, I'd suggest Tibet for one, but the you are back to big budgets.
bigbird

climber
WA
Jan 17, 2014 - 01:58pm PT
Ok... I might have used the wrong wording... Rather then "dumbed down" I'll use the phrase "sanitized". Also rather then "the alps" I'll refer to it as "chamonix"...

As far as stopwatches go? Come on man? Are you serious? faster and bivouac free ascents have been recorded for years all over the planet.

and to clarify I'm referring to the di-k measuring contest speed climbing in the chamonix/alps has disended into in recent years. If you are going light and fast to minimize exposure to objective danger or to get to the top in the quickest efficient manner, all power to you. If you are speed climbing for the record or for publicity you are likely doing it for the wrong reasons.

and to some to be fair I agree with much of what you are saying... Chamonix is likely the best bang for your buck climbing destination in the world. It does have some of the best world class climbing out there... It makes a great training ground for the worlds top alpinists... But don't claim it is the end all of alpine climbing.
steve shea

climber
Jan 17, 2014 - 02:16pm PT
Sanitized, civilized. What's the difference? Only how you get there. To assume you will be helo rescued before tragedy is foolish. I don't think I ever knew any climbers in Cham who would say"I'm going to do such and such route, cause I know if I get stretched I can get winched off with an arm signal" Are you kidding me?

I know some places that need to be "sanitized". Literally. Everest Base Camp, certain camps in Alaska and probably Patagonia as well. Popularity can kill a good thing.

The exploration one enjoys in whatever aspect of climbing one chooses, is exploration of self. The passage.
bigbird

climber
WA
Jan 17, 2014 - 02:45pm PT
Popularity can kill a good thing.

The exploration one enjoys in whatever aspect of climbing one chooses, is exploration of self. The passage.

Fair enough we agree on something.. Personally I prefer to climbing in places without crowds... Remoteness is part of the fun for me... and to be fair it is possible to have an climbing trip in a remote location on a budget. You just have have to have lots of time on your hands. An example of this would be climbing Mt. Waddington Munday style from the ocean.. Having traversed the range on foot several years ago, it is not as easy as it looks...
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jan 22, 2014 - 11:17am PT

Climbing in the Chamonix area: The Mt. Blanc massif. Article by Andre Contamine in Mountain 43, 1975.

Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jan 22, 2014 - 11:24am PT

Mt Blanc massif continues...

Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
steve shea

climber
Jan 22, 2014 - 01:19pm PT
Marlow thanks for posting that article. I remember reading it multiple times, dreaming of the day I might see if I measure up in the Massif.

I had many long days there. Some memorable for failure and epics others for success and new or new variant routes. One of my most memorable was a new line on the Grand Pilier d'Angle in '78. With Joel Coqueniot, a Chamonix guide. I met him through JM Boivin and Georges Bettembourg.

It starts on the Ceccinel/Nomine goes up a few pitches then branches off left, to the left of the Fowler finish and the right of the Bonnati/Gobi. Steep mixed and ice with a very steep ice finish and on to the upper snow field then up the Peuterey Ridge to the Italian and French summits. We continued on down to the Plan and waited for the first tele the next morning. We had perfect weather and ice condition. The whole time we were on the route we were entertained by very active avalanche conditions on the Brenva Face. Also huge serac collapse to our right on the Gabbarou/Boivin route. It swept over part of the C/N which was our original goal til we saw the line we ended up doing. Best day in the Massif.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jan 22, 2014 - 01:49pm PT
Steve

Then your route can be seen, even if it's not drawn, in this article by Michel Piola in Mont Blanc 2:
Grand Pilier d Angle
Grand Pilier d Angle
Credit: Marlow
Grand Pilier d Angle
Grand Pilier d Angle
Grand Pilier d Angle
Grand Pilier d Angle
Credit: Marlow
steve shea

climber
Jan 22, 2014 - 03:32pm PT
Yes. If you continue straight up rather then taking the big traverse right on the Ceccinel/Nominee, you can see the couloir narrowing and becoming very steep. Then several hundred meters from its end it branches. The Fowler finish the right hand branch, ours is the left hand. The last pitch was vertical ice for a good part of the ropelength. We used a 300' 9 mil. It exited on mixed and over the top of the B/G and others. There was more snow than in your photo at the time. Early July,'78.

We actually wasted a lot of time trying to free the first bit on the Cecchinel/Nominee. We had some success and eliminated some but not all of the aid. So when we got up to the traverse it looked faster to go up rather than right. We did not know if it was climbed before til we got back to Cham. Boivin informed us. Btw his and Gabbarou's route is to the right of the C/M and up through the hanging serac band. That is the area that collapsed to our right and went over the route and of course the Brenva Face further right. Think it was mostly TD except for the finish which was ED and then the A1 start. Nice photo.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jan 22, 2014 - 05:24pm PT
Steve,

It sounds like you have done most of the routes that I WISHED I had done.

One of our biggest troubles was finding anything that remotely resembled a topo of a route. Also, the grades were different. I think that the Fissure Brown was rated TD, and other, easier, but more serious routes were rated ED.

We ended up doing most of the classics. None of the Argentiere ice routes were in that summer except the Triolet. We ended up doing the Lachenal direct finish (I think that was the route name) that went up steep ice to the left of that big serac.

We couldn't afford huts, so we would hike all the way up from town and then bivy out on the glacier until midnight to start. Beneath the Triolet there was a bunch of truck and bigger sized ice chunks that had fallen off of that spooky serac, and ran quite a ways out in front of the route. There was one part where the ice was less than 2 inches thick, so we just soloed that part. Man, that was a hard day's work.

It was great fun, but the objective hazards were all too obvious. We would see the SAR choppers landing across the river from Snell's daily. Once I was up killing a few hours at the Charpoua Hut (I knew the hutkeeper) and we watched three different rescues going on from that vantage point.

They can bolt it all they want. They still can't stop that grapefruit sized rock which misses your brain by 6 inches. We learned to go fast, put in minimal pro, and generally not dick around. It was a big learning experience which I carried on to my rock climbing when I got home. If I had a partner who wanted to dick around and take pictures, I would get nervous.

I have a great story of stumbling along glaciers at night in a storm with a very hammered Walt Shipley, but to be fair, I also had a couple of liters of the cheapest, foulest, wine in my belly as well.

It makes you realize how safe rock climbing is. You know exactly what you are in for on a rock climb, with very few exceptions.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Jan 22, 2014 - 07:53pm PT
They can bolt it all they want. They still can't stop that grapefruit sized rock which misses your brain by 6 inches. We learned to go fast, put in minimal pro, and generally not dick around. It was a big learning experience

why Hemingway said mountain climbing is the real deal and not clipping bolts or sherpa'ing a pad around the Buttermilks
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Mar 28, 2014 - 11:53am PT

Brèche West du col du Requin Voie Sorenson-Eastman

Great atmosphere...
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