Trip Report
Climbing the Dent du Géant: unabridged version to one of Cham's most scenic peaks
Thursday August 7, 2014 8:06pm
One year ago in August 2013, I traveled to Chamonix, France for a few weeks to meet my Romanian friend Irina and get my first taste of European alpine climbing.

This is not a comprehensive trip report of my entire stay by any means. I’m only pickin’ one day in the mountains. In fact, it was the easiest route we climbed. But it had the best views and the most epic surrounding story, and therefore it wins the TR lottery since I’m short on free time for idle fancies and storytelling these days (it took me three months total to write this, see). I apologize in advance for the lengthy prose, but I think you'll find it worth it, if only for the photos.

THE STORY BEGINS:
The Dent du Géant is probably one of the most-climbed pieces of rock in the French Alps. No doubt because it has an easy though technical route to the summit, as well as short 5.10 and 5.11 routes next door, so it is frequently ascended by climbers of all abilities as well as guided every day of the week. It is a small but compelling-looking piece of granite which stands out as a signature landmark for miles around. The summit is also quite mind-bending, ascending a knifeblade to a tiny perch with 360° views into France and Italy of the most beautiful terrain imaginable, encompassing green valleys, white peaks, rocky ridges and spires, glaciers and alpine mists.

Dent du Géant as seen from the Satellites area
Dent du Géant as seen from the Satellites area
Credit: Aerili

Our modus operandi on this trip was to watch the weather carefully, planning our trips in the mountains during the good windows, and holing up in my partner’s Chamonix apartment when it was not to rest and recover. We had not really considered climbing the Dent, but while riding the Helbronner cable car back home one day, we ended up sharing it with two handsome Norwegian guys who had just climbed the peak. After talking to them, it piqued my interest more, so we looked up beta while back in town. It was one of the routes my partner had not climbed yet during her one year tenure there. So we gathered beta on our options, preferring to climb the newer and harder route Géant Branché to the left of the traditional summit route if possible. It was 460-600 feet (depending on what you read) at what seemed to be a reasonable grade of somewhere in the 10- range (more on that uncertainty later) stacked on top of a big approach.

The main crux for me was the time of day the Dent is typically climbed. Most people start the approach as early as 5am, climb the southwest-facing routes fully in the freezing shade, and descend by midday or mid-afternoon. Unlike my hardened alpine partner and all the other Euros in the area, I had been struggling since the start of my trip to deal with freezing pre-dawn prep and shady climbing on ice-cold rock due to the effect the temps had on my hands (compounded by probable Raynaud’s…how am I ever gonna be an alpine climber? For the record, I had a breakthrough in tolerance by about 14 days in…but this was before all that.) I told my partner I could absolutely NOT climb the Dent in the shade. Unthinkable. It had to be in the sun. Not to mention I wanted to avoid at all costs the hordes which flock to it. She told me it was maybe possible to get a later start, climb in the afternoon, descend, and then camp on the glacier the following night (vs the previous) before catching the cable cars back out, but first she had to call a guide friend to check if it would be safe for us to ascend when conditions were warmer (and more volatile). He confirmed yes, it should be okay, so that became our game plan.

In the meantime, we had a couple days to kill with mostly good weather. We needed some recovery from the last foray out, but my partner was anxious to do something during the okay forecast anyhow. I was more reluctant, feeling fatigued, but eventually we agreed on a day jaunt to the Aiguilles Rouges side of the valley, an easy, alpine-y traverse on the south ridge of the Chapelle de la Glière which we could mostly simul and solo with only occasional belaying.

Gratuitous tangent photo on the Chapelle de la Glière
Gratuitous tangent photo on the Chapelle de la Glière
Credit: Aerili

We were pushing it to catch the last Index tram down the mountain later that day after navigating an approach and descent we found not trivial physically or dead-easy in routefinding. In other words, after a not-so-restful day, we arrived home and then prepared for the Dent. We packed up and planned to get the first car out to the Midi the next morning, a short walk from the apartment. My partner had no alarm clock but I relied on her to always wake us up on time. Somehow she did, being in a perpetual cat-napping state when not out in the mountains.

We arose in the pre-dawn, made cowboy coffee and breakfast while putting together last things and getting half dressed, waiting til the last minute to put on all our layers and boots and begin the overheating. I felt full even though I hadn’t eaten for hours, but I forced myself to eat the morning meal, choking it down as usual, because I knew I would be hungry soon enough if I didn’t.

Somehow, being just a little too sluggish, we didn’t leave the house on time and managed to catch only the second car out. Rats. At least riding the cable cars in the morning is less of a sh#t show for climbers and all their pointy objects than later in the day when sardine packaging becomes the requirement.

In the Midi station, we queued up for the Helbronner tram and soon we were well on our way, sailing sanguinely through the sky in the now-familiar alpine glory. We arrived in the Helbronner station and quickly dispatched ourselves to the cloudless but windy and cold mountain setting. Donning crampons, we scuttled through the crowds of Italian tourists standing around and headed east down the glacier. We planned to leave our packs wherever we found a flat spot and bivy there later. Once we felt we were suitably far away from curious passersby at a good place, we dropped the packs, assembled our gear, ropes, water, food, and clothing for the day, and headed off without a second glance back. Like many formations, the Dent looks soaring and huge in stature from far away but appears less and less massive as you approach it. Regardless, it is a decent walk over the glacier, dropping down into a small valley, and then back up a monstrous hill to the start of the choss part of the approach, culminating in a 2000’ hike. Most of the beta we read said the approach is typically two hours and so we allowed for this as we were both acclimated and relatively strong hikers. We were carrying gear for the harder Géant Branché route -- which meant doubles of most cams and several more slings plus more water than usual due to the strenuous start to the day.

Yes, we want to go there.
Yes, we want to go there.
Credit: Irina
Irina coming up the monster hill to the base of the Dent du Géant's ta...
Irina coming up the monster hill to the base of the Dent du Géant's talus field. A crevasse minefield lies to the right (photographer's perspective).
Credit: Aerili

We had not roped together for any part of the approach until this point, so we lassoed up.

Yes, I would like some voluntary bondage.
Yes, I would like some voluntary bondage.
Credit: Irina

At first it was easy to follow the trail and the rock was not too poor.
No, really, this is the "good" rock.
No, really, this is the "good" rock.
Credit: Irina

However, things quickly deteriorated.

This illustrates the hazardous jenga-like nature of the mountain...sor...
This illustrates the hazardous jenga-like nature of the mountain...sort of. It's actually worse.
Credit: Irina

Eventually we encountered some people already descending, those who clearly started this whole process in the dark. There appeared to be as many guides as not and the majority of their clients struck my jaded heart as gumbies. Who cares if you go up at 6am or 11am? There would be no limit to the supply of inexperienced souls who could knock sh#t down whether going or coming. At one point I saw a relatively large group preparing to slowly downclimb a 5th class section. I didn’t really want to compete or wait for them nor even be below them, so I decided we should detour around. Little did we know that there is actually ONE AND ONLY ONE trail to the Dent. I mean, sure, you can go other ways, but you aren’t going to enjoy it and you might not even survive it.

We soon found ourselves in sections of terrain so loose it took all our skill not to tumble down or release mini-avalanches. At one point, I realized we would need to belay over one particularly rotten section of ice mixed over sand and rock. I “led” up over a 40 foot section of this (with pro, you ask? ha ha) into massive loose blocks perched precariously on the shifting pile of pulverized granite. I finally found one place that took a single cam--which didn’t feel anchored to a house of cards--and put Irina on belay. She came up and then I prepared to lead out a traverse over more steep, rotten rock which would regain the actual trail again after about 70 feet. We were both tucked at the base of a pile of massive boulders. About one minute before I left the belay and broke off into open terrain, we heard a sudden noise and many people screaming and shouting above us. In milliseconds rockfall starting raining down in that space, mostly microwave-sized pieces glancing off at every random angle Newtonian physics allowed. I had experienced killer rockfall coming down past me on one route before but it didn’t come close to this in size. After an unknown period of terror, it was over as instantly as it began and all that echoed in its wake were people screaming at the culprits in French and English to not be such f***ing ----!!! Immediately following that we all screamed to each other to reassure our health and alive-ness. Insanely, no one was killed or hurt. After calming my nerves, we belayed each other back over to the trail in a flash and continued on as fast as possible, realizing there was nowhere to run or hide and no way to avoid this for the rest of the approach.

Two or three times we encountered a few steep snow patches. There were good steps kicked in so I plunged ahead with just my axe and no crampons and all was well. This was good. This meant time saved. But the reality was we were progressing slower than anticipated anyway. The fatigue in our legs from our previous day’s adventure and the little recovery time between trips was showing itself. My error in attempting to bypass people off-route had not helped. When we were nearing the base of the Dent, we came to another large snowpack. Some British climbers coming down advised us to don crampons because it continued around the corner for some time and involved some narrow, do-not-slip territory.

Yes, m'lady, you shall need crampons.
Yes, m'lady, you shall need crampons.
Credit: Irina

Then – we were finally there. We really needed to rack up and start climbing immediately but we absolutely had to eat and take a very small break first. At that point we realized the approach had taken us an hour longer than anticipated. I was shocked and dismayed, particularly considering we were both hiking fairly strongly on most trips. Despite the fact that the route was only about 6 pitches give or take at 10a or less, I have been climbing long enough to know it was a bad idea to underestimate how long it “might” take. Adding to the uncertainty was the reality that it was not completely clear exactly what the true grade of the route was. Many routes in the Alps are graded using the alpine system…which did not come across as incredibly precise to me due to the complexity of factors it takes into account. Topos would then often have pitch grade breakdowns which added confusion as they used ratings from a variety of systems, usually French or British or something else, but I had not always found them to be consistent, sometimes feeling up to two letter grades apart on the YDS system.

We decided the only smart idea at that point was to climb the Voie Normale route which was the same length but far easier and would allow for speed. We had a huge and complicated descent involved and did not want to be doing it in the dark. We decided the fastest way to climb (and the warmest) would be for me to lead all the pitches and Irina to second. There was also the fact that she could come back and lead it any time she wished, whereas I could not. The Voie Normale is often climbed in boots but I decided to wear climbing shoes while Irina chose to stay with her current footwear. I racked up quickly with a set of singles and we were off!

You make a short traverse out over a decomposing void and set up the f...
You make a short traverse out over a decomposing void and set up the first belay at this perch.
Credit: Irina

The first 2-3 pitches are so blocky and easy you almost wonder where you are actually supposed to go. Occasionally old pitons appear, however, to notify you that your instincts are correct.

Irina coming up the first easy pitch.
Irina coming up the first easy pitch.
Credit: Aerili

Eventually we arrived at a huge belay ledge and this is where the really good stuff began. The southwest face rears up like a massive shield of shining, white/gold, bullet granite split by tiny, perfect cracks. Here is also where the bizarre cable system starts in earnest. I looked at the untainted crack system to its right; so alluring, so beautiful. But it was difficult to know if it would be as easy as the actual route and if the crack continued accepting gear all the way to the next belay. Since we had no time to waste, I decided to plug and chug into the known vs the unknown. This crack was also fun but exceedingly polished and slippery, reminding me more of Valley classics than alpine granite. The cable seemed unnecessary on this pitch although I wasn’t sure in what conditions people continued to climb the route.

A rather poor photo of the beautiful headwall and me at/near the belay...
A rather poor photo of the beautiful headwall and me at/near the belay.
Credit: Irina
Irina following the pristine headwall (minus that cable tat :))
Irina following the pristine headwall (minus that cable tat :))
Credit: Aerili
Does it get any better? Views of the Mer de Glace in the background.
Does it get any better? Views of the Mer de Glace in the background.
Credit: Aerili
Far vistas + a tiny Midi
Far vistas + a tiny Midi
Credit: Aerili

After that, the headwall continued at a much steeper angle, mostly dead vertical. Here the cable was actually necessary as the cracks were often discontinuous and the moves unprotected. This would not have mattered except that some of these sections actually appeared to have somewhat difficult and thought-provoking face moves off polished slopers and small, glassy holds…or just no holds at all in a place or two. After a few seconds of checking out the potential sequence, I did not hesitate to batman up the rope in these cases, the slowly sinking sun always in my mind. The route was supposedly in the 5.6 to 5.7 range, but I wondered (and still do) if that indicated the grade all free or if it was actually 5.6 A0. The brief vertical, blank, slippery sections just did not seem to jive.

A view from the last belay before the final pitch.
A view from the last belay before the final pitch.
Credit: Irina

Eventually the verticality eased off and I began to crawl up the undulating knifeblade finish, bopping along just off its southern exposure. After surmounting every new jagged hook on the blade, I kept expecting to be on the summit. But the Dent goes longer than expected, the cable continually winding away before you, a clear sign it’s not over til it’s over. Up and up I went, placing almost no pro, but still the ropes began to drag on me as the snaky ridge, stacked with alpine blocks, took its toll. Eventually I reached the anchor, hunkered down, and put my partner on belay. We had had no real communication between belays for a while at this point, the cold, gusty alpine wind too jealous to allow such exchanges. With easy climbing, few pieces to remove, and a sinking sun, she arrived quickly.

Irina standing on the knife edge. Italy is over the hill behind her.
Irina standing on the knife edge. Italy is over the hill behind her.
Credit: Aerili
A spontaneous rockfall in progress as I belayed. Just another day in t...
A spontaneous rockfall in progress as I belayed. Just another day in the Alps.
Credit: Aerili

At this time we knew we were the only people on the Dent except for two men just behind us. I really wanted to climb just a bit further to the other summit and sit next to the Madonna statue which keeps her place eternally there, but the sun’s position and the thought of our bivy far away was pressing on my conscience, so we settled for a mere hundred celebratory summit photos instead (of which I will share only three with you).

The only female rock climbing team in da mountains, yo
The only female rock climbing team in da mountains, yo
Credit: Aerili
Posing in front of the Envers area of the Alps with the Rebublique spi...
Posing in front of the Envers area of the Alps with the Rebublique spire and the Mer de Glace landmarks.
Now ain't er'body got time fo dat?

Credit: Irina
This one is clearly our band photo, so it had to be shared.
This one is clearly our band photo, so it had to be shared.
Credit: Irina

Three double rope raps off the shorter backside of the Dent brought us to the snow. (For the record, the dudes behind us said they had brought their bivy gear up with them and planned to stay at the base, so we would not be having company on the descent…for good or for bad.)

Rapping over the Rochefort Ridge.
Rapping over the Rochefort Ridge.
Credit: Irina


Irina ran off to fetch my boots and I began coiling the ropes. Soon we were packing up, donning every shred of clothing we brought, and racing the fading light. I was cursing the fact that sunset was upon us. We hadn’t climbed slowly on the route at all. Why was this happening to us? I had vowed not to descend in the dark and now it was happening and there was nothing to be done but get on with it.

But the worst part? The earth had turned into a place of epic beauty and we could not help but steal moments to photograph the Midi silhouetted as we lost the sun. In fact, we had to force ourselves to start the concentrated task of looking at our feet and navigating the terrain as precisely and quickly as possible once a few images had been captured. The brain’s electrical recording of memories is so different from that of the mathematical renderings of image pixels on our cameras’ memory cards. The brain forgets the precise details of the moment but retains the essence of the memory, including the abstract emotional quality, and that is what I feel most as I sit here writing this.

Sun setting on the Dent.
Sun setting on the Dent.
Credit: Aerili
The Midi in silhouette across the valley.
The Midi in silhouette across the valley.
Credit: Aerili

The initial descent was easy in the dusk light and we removed our crampons as soon as we bypassed the initial snowfields. We held out on firing up the headlamps until visibility was so low we were trying to guess which jumble of rocks was the real path. The cold started to settle in and bite at our faces but the constant movement held it just at bay. At one point we reached the trickiest spot of all: a small promontory of choss that appeared to cliff out. We knew the path could feasibly go down either side but only one would be “right” and the other would be a horror-show of loose and deadly blocks. In full darkness it was hard to tell what lay beyond the edges of our headlamps, but we chose correctly, our combined skill giving us the intuition to read the landscape properly.

Eventually we came to the short, steep snowfields we had crossed easily in boots earlier. I paused at the edge of one, hesitating at the glittering white crust forming in my light beams. I loathed stopping to take the time to put on crampons but feared what could happen if I didn’t. Well-worn kicked steps were still present and shelf-like but not angled down against the slope of the hill as they traversed out of sight. I held my breath and decided to test it, plunging my axe into the snow and stepping out gingerly. Solid! The snow wasn’t frozen yet. I quickly crossed and encouraged Irina to do the same.

Further down we came to the last and steepest snowfield. This one required descent straight down versus across. Irina voiced her feeling that we should wear crampons and I agreed. We also felt a belay was necessary as it was later and colder and the snow was probably approaching frozen. Most of the choss surrounding us offered no suitable anchor opportunities, but we were both down with using single-point, hip-belay methods at that point -- which improved the odds of creating an “acceptable” anchor (n=1 and all that). One cam in and I was on my way down, the snowfield requiring a tricky 5th class move off a boulder down-slope which I knew Irina wasn’t going to like as the unprotected second. Oh well. Allez!

After setting up my single-cam belay and putting her “on” at the bottom, I had ample time to sit and freeze my ass off while she tried to negotiate the weird moves up above, out of eyesight and earshot. The wind had been wailing on us most of this time and it felt like the middle of the night. That was the one point I began to mentally break down a bit. Despite the fact we had not knocked off a single pebble yet and were more than two thirds done, I began to wonder if we would make it all the way in the night. Would we have to weather a miserable over-nighter on that pile of choss just before the end? Would one or both of us end up dead by a fatigue-induced stumble or unfortunate rockfall? It was all possible. Shivering uncontrollably, it was hard to think rationally and it felt like Irina was taking forever to reach me. But I remembered that we had a combined twenty years’ climbing experience and we certainly had the competence to get off that POS safely as long as our luck held.

Past the snowfield we unroped again and continued the scramble in crampons but I barely noticed the grating metal against rock. We soon dropped off the other side of the ridge and became sheltered from the wind. This small change dramatically improved my physical state and outlook. We reached the glacier below without incident, zero rockfall, located our stashed poles, roped up, and started the heinous trudge back to camp – wherever “camp” was … we weren’t sure at that moment in the dark.

We went downhill like zombies, not speaking. Neither of us had eaten or drunk water for hours. Hiking in crampons at that point was like murder on my fatigued ankles and lower legs. All of a sudden, I felt my foot break through the surface of the glacier! Holy shit!!! I yelled out to Irina that we were definitely heading into the crevasse minefield we had easily detoured in the daylight. “Left, left, go left!” I screamed and we did a heroic 60 yard crampon dash together.

Crevasse disasters averted, we reached the bottom of the mountain and began the next long uphill slog. What in the world time was it? We didn’t know. We didn’t want to know. At this point Irina began her own small mental breakdown. When my pace outstripped hers the rope would yank between us and she would scream out at me. At that moment it was the most annoying thing in the world I had ever experienced. I wanted to untie but didn’t want to take the time or remove my gloves. She started yelling that we were never ever gonna locate our packs, that it was impossible. It was just fatigue talking. I told her to be quiet and that we would find them by using the Helbronner station’s night lights as a guide. And it worked without incident. Eventually, after an eternity of rope-yanking and yelling, I saw our packs’ reflective tabs send their friendly signal via my headlamp in the darkness. We were headed straight for them! Yessss! Girls rule!

But it wasn’t over. We arrived and Irina had a small meltdown, saying she absolutely could not set up the tent. The tent was a new four-season Mountain Hardwear and it was a bitch to get it fully deployed, requiring exceptional hand and arm strength to hold the poles tight against each other. We both hated it. I communicated with the utmost delicacy in no uncertain terms that I was not going to f*#king sleeping on the f*#king glacier and if that was the way it was going to be I was heading straight for the Helbronner station. If she wished to sleep alone out there she was welcome to do so. I had checked the time when we arrived: 12:45 a.m. Damn. I immediately pulled out some liquid water and a package of salted almonds from my pack and administered them to my partner, reassuring her I would help her set the tent up. She agreed. As soon as we were under the canopy, working together to slide the dogged poles through the fabric, she remarked softly, “Oh…it is better already.” This induced fits of slap happy laughter from me and soon we had camp set up and were sitting side-by-side in our sleeping bags, eating crackers, cookies, nuts, and drinking hot tea. We passed out and slept in late, arising to another warm, cloudless day and our sky car waiting for us not far in the distance.

Was it worth it, you ask? Like I imagine many alpinists might say in hindsight of mountain adventures gone slightly awry from the plan, the answer is yes. After all, almost everything went right. And everyone lived happily ever after.

Credit: Irina







  Trip Report Views: 4,215
Aerili
About the Author
Aerili is a climber (not really) from SLC, Utah.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
scrubbing bubbles

Social climber
Uranus
  Aug 7, 2014 - 08:17pm PT
See? There are at least 2 women left on Supertopo.


Wonderful pics, will parse the text later
TLP

climber
  Aug 7, 2014 - 09:50pm PT
Nice blast from the past. The photos brought the memories right back. It was our experience also, many years ago, that the approach times in our guidebook were very optimistic, you had to be very fit, to have good snow conditions, and not make any intentional or mistaken detours to make it to the route on schedule. We sometimes did, but not often. So far as I know (certainly was the case then), pitches graded in UIAA (e.g., V, VI) omit the A0 but assume you yard on anything fixed that doesn't pull out. Only graded A-something if you get ladders out.
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  Aug 7, 2014 - 10:01pm PT
Cool report. Thank you for posting up!
Erik
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Aug 7, 2014 - 10:41pm PT
Good adventure on a beautiful peak - thanks for sharing.
crankster

Trad climber
  Aug 7, 2014 - 10:43pm PT
Very cool!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Aug 7, 2014 - 11:54pm PT
Great TR!
Bargainhunter

climber
  Aug 8, 2014 - 12:29am PT
Type 2 fun, yo! Thank you for that inspiring TR; one of the best I've read on the taco.
jstan

climber
  Aug 8, 2014 - 01:28am PT
A trip and a trip report right out of the nineteenth century. The best, I think, this site has ever had. Bar none.
johnkelley

climber
Anchorage Alaska
  Aug 8, 2014 - 02:35am PT
Nice. Thanks for sharing.
norm larson

climber
wilson, wyoming
  Aug 8, 2014 - 04:35am PT
Nice well written trip report. Sounds like just another day in the alpine. Amazing how many emotions can be packed in to one day of alpine climbing isn't it.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
  Aug 8, 2014 - 05:06am PT

Excellent TR. Great beauty all the way...
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Aug 8, 2014 - 07:58am PT
You are two tough cookies. This is great stuff - I really enjoyed your epic! You've gotta be competent to get through them, so you must be competent!

For sure they are the days you remember and learn from.

Thanks for posting, do it again please!

Steve
Floridaputz

Trad climber
Oakland Park Florida
  Aug 8, 2014 - 08:22am PT
Nice job, very interesting
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Aug 8, 2014 - 08:51am PT
Great trip report .
klk

Trad climber
cali
  Aug 8, 2014 - 09:26am PT
yeah lots of up-down over on aiguilles rouges. nice rest day. heh

never did the dent d g. now i'm glad.

great report
rfshore

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
  Aug 8, 2014 - 09:56am PT
Beautiful! The TR and photos are pretty good, too :)
Aerili

climber
SLC, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 8, 2014 - 02:44pm PT
Thank you for the compliments, both personal and otherwise!!! ;) I am truly flattered.

The Dent is absolutely worth climbing despite the semi-heinous approach - I would just like to make that clear. It's an amazing summit!
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Aug 8, 2014 - 06:00pm PT
This TR is the real reason S-T exists! All the other crap is meaningless drivel by comparison. Great report!
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Aug 8, 2014 - 08:05pm PT
Nice effort! Thank you for the alpinism stoke!
johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
  Aug 8, 2014 - 09:30pm PT
Well done.
Thanks.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 9, 2014 - 04:57am PT
Stellar, and beautiful. pics!!!!!
What is "cowboy coffe" any ways?
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Aug 9, 2014 - 07:57am PT
Your enthusiasm shines through; great story! The headwaters area of the Mer de Glace is so beautiful that sometimes you doubt your own eyes. And my, how the Geant draws the eye.

Photos were a treat; I especially liked the one of the Midi at sunset.

You revised your best laid plans to get to the summit. Reminds me of this quote:

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

Winston Churchill


pneame

Trad climber
Tampa, FL
  Aug 9, 2014 - 12:34pm PT
Great TR - great pictures. If the Geant was a bit further away and hadn't been festooned with cables from ascent #1, it would be a fabulous peak.
It still as fabulous, of course, you just don't want to look closely.
Not a bad strategy to start way late to avoid the crowds.
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Aug 9, 2014 - 12:42pm PT
Really enjoyed this TR, thanks.
lars
Johnny K.

climber
  Aug 9, 2014 - 02:37pm PT
Awesome writing =D
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
  Aug 9, 2014 - 05:29pm PT
nicely
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Aug 9, 2014 - 07:08pm PT
hey there say, aerili... wow, great rock shots... great trip report... and yes, though the details may fade some, the power of the experience STAYS strong within the spirit...

nicely writen, too...


say, last fun note:

we have a family friend, romanian, with the name, Irina(with L at the end) ... made me think of her... she'd love seeing this, but she don't climb... :) and--she is in germany now, with her folks...
just a lover of the greatourdoors and horses, and critters... :)
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Aug 9, 2014 - 07:14pm PT
Super-thank you got that TR, made my day.
overwatch

climber
  Aug 10, 2014 - 05:13pm PT
Echoing other comments, nice writing and way to persevere. Thanks for taking the three months to write it up
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Aug 10, 2014 - 09:55am PT
I just re-read this TR for the third time, and enjoyed it again! I can only echo Jstan's comment as the best TR EVER!!!!
Aerili

climber
SLC, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 10, 2014 - 04:01pm PT
Wow, BDC, I am blown away by the compliment! :)) Who knows, I may never write another trip report again, so I had to make the one I did write high quality!

What is "cowboy coffe" any ways?
It's when you boil the water with the grounds straight in, no filtering. It's not very glamorous, haa, and it's my last resort for caffeine truth be told.

P.S. All our other forays and routes went without any real problems, so this was actually the only thing I could reasonably come up to write about. :)
SeanH

Trad climber
SLC
  Aug 10, 2014 - 12:05pm PT
Nice write up and shots!
Cancer Boy

Trad climber
Freedonia
  Aug 10, 2014 - 01:32pm PT
Wonderfully and thoughtfully (and correctly) written with great pics. Quality triumphs over timeliness! I look forward to more stories.
The Larry

climber
Moab, UT
  Aug 10, 2014 - 02:29pm PT
Nice tr young lady. When are you gonna come climb with me?
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Aug 10, 2014 - 03:00pm PT
Thank you so much! Not only did you do a great job describing the climb but you captured the whole Chamonix alpine experience as well.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Aug 10, 2014 - 06:08pm PT
I useta' drink "cowboy coffee" whenever I went backpacking with my buds BITD. That was before the day of coffee filters, by the way! ;) There's nothing quite like it.... Maxwell House, water, and boil the schitt out of it. Let it cool to "settle" and...drink if you're desperate enuf! Brings back memories of sleeping in an Army Poncho shelter half "tent" or lean to in the Gore Range with Harry Jordan (Founder of CU Boulder Computer Science Department, RIP, 2002).
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Aug 10, 2014 - 08:27pm PT
Tarnation! It ain't cowboy coffee till yuh make it in the fryin' pan that's just finished bein' used fer scramblin' the eggs...
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Aug 10, 2014 - 09:58pm PT
Wow that peak looks sooooo cool! Great report on it too!
nah000

climber
canuckistan
  Aug 10, 2014 - 10:01pm PT
if that first picture doesn't make your eyes dilate and your heart rate quicken you should probably take up another sport.

sweet tr.

thanks.
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  Aug 10, 2014 - 10:07pm PT
Ultra friggin stokealicious
W.L.

climber
Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  Aug 10, 2014 - 10:23pm PT
Fantastic TR! Thanks for posting, it is clear you put forth a lot of effort in this, and the results are fantastic. Well done!
irene+

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
  Aug 11, 2014 - 01:22am PT
Wow, Marissa, you made us famous...
No, checking in on ST is not part of my daily routines at the moment, but when you have an e-stalker who sends you an 'eh fame?' text...you know quite promptly when you have made the ST headlines

The route, summit and whole story are a wonderful memory because I have done them with one of my best friends and climbing partners...who traveled from half the globe away to meet and climb together in Chamonix...(while hemorrhaging a significant chunk of $$)

(And yes I have done a substantial amount of blind-date climbing, and reaching the objective and coming down safely are not even remotely as sweet)
goatboy smellz

climber
लघिमा
  Aug 11, 2014 - 01:23pm PT

looks like a bitchen' good time!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 11, 2014 - 01:34pm PT
Fabulous trip report! Thank you.

This illustrates the hazardous jenga-like nature of the mountain...sort of. It's actually worse.

Great description, but I still envy you.

John
bob

climber
  Aug 11, 2014 - 02:17pm PT
This was a fantastic read and the photos are beautiful.

I loved this: "The brain’s electrical recording of memories is so different from that of the mathematical renderings of image pixels on our cameras’ memory cards. The brain forgets the precise details of the moment but retains the essence of the memory, including the abstract emotional quality, and that is what I feel most as I sit here writing this."

Thank you for this great TR.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Aug 11, 2014 - 02:49pm PT
Aerili,

I have written over twenty Trip Reports and not a single one of them has had a pretty girl in it, let alone two. You gals full on crushed that thing in great style and bravado. Thanks for the great writing, the amazing photos and overall stoke. You captured the pure essence of why we all do what we all do in the mountains. Stay safe, stay stoked, and keep the writings coming. Gals like you are good for this place. Thanks again for reminding us Californians that there is rock outside Yosemite and the High Sierra and that real climbers start at mid day.

Scott

jonnyrig

climber
  Aug 11, 2014 - 03:16pm PT
awesome.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Aug 12, 2014 - 05:10pm PT
Aerili-

I hope you don't mind if I bump your trip report again? Somehow it fell off the page and almost disappeared. The pictures are simply too cool to be consigned to obscurity.
rfshore

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
  Aug 13, 2014 - 06:44am PT
Too much sadness and bullshit on the front page. BUMP for climbing!
Manny

Social climber
tempe
  Aug 13, 2014 - 08:12am PT
Wow, great TR Marissa! Really enjoyed the story, it brought home the desperation you feel when trying to avoid an epic retreat.

I only looked at it and wondered about climbing it. Now I can pass it up after experiencing your report. Strong work.
laurel arndt

Trad climber
phoenix
  Aug 19, 2014 - 04:23pm PT
The approach times always seem to be put in by guides and or local who have done the approach a bijillion times. I too experience a differential of about 25% on all approaches in Chamonix, in the Dolomites we were more on.
Great story, good job ladies!!!
caughtinside

Social climber
Oakland, CA
  Aug 19, 2014 - 04:39pm PT
Glad this got a bump, I missed it the first time around. Great adventure and I loved the photos, thanks for posting.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Aug 20, 2014 - 07:26am PT
Bump for a great TR. TFPU...this is why I love supertopo
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Aug 20, 2014 - 08:20am PT
Wow. Beautiful. I would love to see more of the Alps on here. Thanks for writing this up.
Aerili

climber
SLC, Utah
Author's Reply  Aug 20, 2014 - 03:13pm PT
All the feedback is truly appreciated.
Johnny K.

climber
  Sep 1, 2014 - 10:42pm PT
Up to the top... Pure quality.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Sep 1, 2014 - 11:43pm PT
One of the previous commenters mentioned the guidebook approach times; they all seem to be written for those Ironman Triathalon participants... Even in the Dolomites, the listed approach times are "optimistic."

I've never visited Chamonix, but these pix make it look really attractive!
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
  Sep 2, 2014 - 12:27am PT
Thanks for the TR! I was in Chamonix a couple of weeks ago, my 5th visit over the years. It's an amazing place.
stumpyelle

Trad climber
southern CA
  Sep 2, 2014 - 12:46pm PT
I really want to climb this someday! I oggled it when I was climbing in the Envers area, but we couldn't squeeze it in. Great report! Thanks!
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Sep 2, 2014 - 02:29pm PT
wow, fantastic TR! I am sad I missed it till now, but better late than never, eh?
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