August 11, 2014

Guiding the Midi Plan Traverse, The Entreves Traverse and The Cosmiques Ridge

Looking out at the Aiguille de Plan from the Midi. The objective has a lot of climbing that can't be seen from the start. What an awesome route with lots of steep ridge climbing and cool rock.

Spent the past few days climbing some classic objectives with Brendan W. Brendan is super fit, so after an acclimatization lap on the Arete de Laurence and the Cosmiques, we moved over to the Midi Plan Traverse. I had never done the traverse before and we were lucky to find excellent conditions for moving together on the exposed sections (although we did short-pitch a few sections on the descent). A single 50 meter rope and a handful of cams came in useful. A stubby ice screw would also have helped out on a few icy sections. The route wasn't particularly busy (for Chamonix!), but there were quite a few parties moving around with a lot of rope between them on the no-rope or short-rope terrain. There is no ignoring the huge exposure waiting to capitalize on a single careless step, and watching teams long rope through the terrain was harrowing. There have been many fatal accidents on the route including this one last summer. When we arrived at the rock climbing section on the return to the Midi, we met a family of three with a young daughter who was quite distressed - claiming that she couldn't hear or see. The parents tried feeding her food, fearing that low blood-sugar, combined with the altitude, were to blame. Eventually, the girl started to calm down, but there was still lots of climbing between the team and the Requin Hut or the Aiguille de Midi. So they called the PGMH and one hour later a helicopter plucked them off and brought them down to Chamonix. Sounds like the PGHM are ALMOST as busy as the Kananaskis Country Rescue guys this summer!

Getting ready to exit the ice cave.

Climbing on the Arete de Laurence.

Party on the Cosmiques with the Trois Monts in the background.

Brendan on the crux of the Cosmiques.

Final moves before reaching the Midi.

Starting the Midi Plan Traverse.

Traversing over the North Face of the Midi.

These guys had just topped out  the Frendo and were hungry for more.

A team getting ready to descend from the Rognon du Plan to the Col Superior du Plan. 

Final pitch to the summit.

Yesterday we walked for two hours over to Italy in the rain. At least we got to climb something! Brendan on the awesome and exposed ridge of the Entreves Traverse.

Looking down in to Italy.

The Entreves is often called the Cosmiques of Italy, but I think the Cosmiques should be called the Entreves of France. Did I get that right?

Descending with the Tour Ronde in the background. 

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