Success On The Dru, Take Two!

Me at the base of the West face of
The Dru
On Friday morning Ally and I headed off to the Midi Station psyched and ready for a day’s climbing on the South face of the Midi. Unfortunately when we got close to the station, we noticed that the queue for the lift was massive and they were also running a numbered/ticket system for the individual lifts up. This was also annoying as the queue for the tickets was bigger than the one for the lift.
As it was looking like we wouldn’t be getting anywhere near a lift in the next three hours we opted to give it a miss and headed back to the apartment to make up another plan. Thankfully this plan was much better than the original and all was not lost!
The bivi spot (home sweet home)
We decided that we would head up on the Montenvers train that afternoon and then walk across the Mer De Glace and up to bivi at the base of the Dru that night. Then we would be ready for another amazing route early on Saturday morning, but this time on the west face of this spectacular mountain.
As we were walking up the moraine to the bivi site we noticed there was another team of two already at the top of the Sócle (a 240m wall that needs to be climbed before you can gain access to the route). This was not a big problem, as we where planning on getting an early start the next day and if it was a fast team ahead of us, they would stay out of the way. But if it was a slower team, we knew we would be able to pass them fairly quickly, we weren’t too fussed either way. So we got our climbing kit organised and I sorted out my OutdoorResearch Aurora bivi bag and my Deuter Trek Lite 250 sleeping bag ready for another night of anticipation filled sleep in the mountains.
Ally and I chowing down
How comfy does this look?
After a quick bite to eat and once we had watched the awesome sun set over the Aiguilles Rouge, it was into our little bivi cave and off to bed for a few hours sleep before the 3am rise in readiness for our early start up the Sócle the next morning, and then onto “American Direct”.
When my alarm went off at 3am, the moon was shining bright over the Chamonix Aiguilles and it was nice to wake up to such a breath taking view of the mountains (this never fails to disappoint). We brewed up a coffee and wolfed down some porridge, and then it was on with the climbing gear and off across the snow field to the base of the wall.
Here comes the cold!
We swiftly made our way up the Sócle and within a short time we where belayed at the base of the imposing crack system that slices its way up the West face of the Dru. The two other climbers had obviously heard us coming and they had made their way up the first pitch and were just starting the second when we arrived at the base. I set off up the route and after cruising up the first pitch I was able to take the variation second pitch to get to the belay below the third pitch just as the leader of the other group also arrived. Thankfully they spoke English (British climbers) and they were both really nice guys. They agreed that we were going to be faster than them and let Ally shoot off up the third pitch (this was very good of them!).
The Dru in the setting sun
After climbing in a muddled formation of leader, leader, seconder, seconder for a couple of pitches (this was pretty annoying), Ally and I finely broke free and quickly put a few pitches between the others and ourselves.
Once we were on our own, the climbing seemed to get a lot more enjoyable and the immaculate granite cracks seemed to go on forever, with not one bad move throughout the entire route (well mostly). We ran a fair few of the pitches together, so that we kept moving fast up the face and it was not long before we were approaching the famous jammed block bivi ledge.
The view out of my window
The route itself is home to mostly good sound rock quality apart from the pitch below the Jammed block which is full of very very big very loose blocks that were deposited there when the South-West Bona