Always Ease Yourself Into A Climbing Trip – Or Maybe Not!

Sunrise on the approach

On Saturday morning Ally and I left Fife with a fully loaded car filled with enough gear and food to supply a small nation! This mostly consisted of Porridge, couscous and a tone of cereal bars.

Getting stuck into the icy chimney

We where both uber psyched to be on our way to the Alps, and all the way to France we chatted about what routes we wanted to go for and what we should get on first. After a very easy and stress free drive, we arrived in Chamonix on Sunday afternoon raring to get into the mountains.

Crossing the serracs on the approach
Me getting down and dirt with a big chimney.
keeping it real on the abbs

After quickly unloading the car and sorting the gear at Ally’s apartment we headed into cham to check the weather and decided when would be best to head into the mountains. After seeing that Mondays weather was pretty sceptical, we decided to go for a small boulder session that night, then head up on Monday evening to sleep in the Grand Montets top lift station for an early start on Tuesday morning.

Are first objective was to go for The North Face of Les Petit Dru, which is one of the six classic Rebuffat Alpine north faces. We slept in the toilets of the Montets station and after a very broken sleep, due to our minds being filled with anticipation and psych, we got up mega early and headed off to the base of the Dru. It was a fairly involved approach and after some spicy down-climbing, glacier crossing and crevasse jumping, we finely reached the base of the imposing north face.
We swiftly got our gear sorted and started moving together up the initial stages of the route. After a couple of route finding errors and corrections, we were back on track and getting stuck into some of the amazing rock and mixed climbing that this classic route had to offer. It was home to steep cracks, icy off-widths, mixed corners and immaculate granite walls that would be worthy of 4 stars as a single pitch rotes, let alone being part of a 850m route.
Me approaching the big snow niche

Despite this being our first Alpine route of the season we were not affected by the altitude too much (a bit of heavy breathing on the trickier rock sections) and managed to keep up a good pace throughout the day. Only stopping to fill our water bottles from a snow-melt trickle that was running down the slabs ¾ of the way up the route.

Me belaying with a fair bit of space between me and the glacier
Mr Swinton getting ready to rock.
Ally mixing it up a bit.

Unfortunately due to the small route finding corrections earlier in the day, we topped out on the summit in the dark and opted to spend the night at a bivi spot that we had spied about 50m bellow the summit. Despite a very clear sky, it was still a fairly warm bivi, and after a few hours sleep we woke to a totally breath taking view of the sun rise just hitting the top of Mont Blanc and the Grand Jurasses. At that point while I was looking at those sun capped mountains, despite being 3700m above sea level, having only eaten a handful of cereal bars the previous day on the route and having slept on a bed of pointy granite, I would not rather have been anywhere else in the world!

One thought on “Always Ease Yourself Into A Climbing Trip – Or Maybe Not!

  1. nice one, pretty keen to get on it once the weather clears, did you carry all your bivvy gear with you on the route or leave some at the station?, not sure wether to bivvy there or at the base of the route, also did you just abb the normal route on the petit dru?, cheers for any info, graham.

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