The weather has been truly terrible for the last two weeks with everyone festering the valley waiting for some sunshine to appear. Yesterday the weatherman announced 70% sun so we packed up the day before and headed for the Grands Montets to see what the Verte looked like. We spotted that a rarely done Robert Jasper line called Late To Say I’m Sorry on the Grande Rocheuse was in ok-ish nick when we climbed up the Couturier a few weeks ago- desperate to get on something ‘big’ we were open to all suggestions.
The line of Late to Say am Sorry taken last Autumn (NB not that fat right now)
A brief skin over to the shrund the evening before got the psyche up high as the crux pitches looked like they would go.
The next morning we headed off early and clambered up the Couturier for the second time this season. Conditions in the couloir, are if anything, better than a few weeks ago. Expect some trail breaking for the first few hundred meters but that gives way to bomber ice/ nevee. Soloing up the couloir and past the first two pitches to the base of the crux and things were going well. Unfortunately it was at this point that I realised that the battery cover had come off my headtorch dumping its contents down the couloir- no matter for the moment but it meant we had to get off the Verte before dark.
The first crux pitch goes at A2. I dont actually know what A2 equates to but in any case the gear was good and it lead to a thin iced up corner. If the ice is too thin, as it is now, you can continue on aiding up to the right of it. It is worth noting that whilst the guide book is correct in saying there are in situ pegs they are all really dodgy and worth ignoring as they will rip out.
Will starting the ice on the crux pitch
Pulling round the A2 corner
Getting stuck into the thin ice corner and some more aiding
Up past this and onto the second pitch which was an amazing mix of steep ice and dry tooling. Again the gear was great and the climbing interesting and varied.
Will approaching the belay at the top of the ice, the mixed can be seen below
With these two pitches dispatched there are two more easy ice pitches that are top quality in their own right. The setting and the ambiance alone makes for an awesome couple of pitches.
Topped out of the headwall we decided to start to head back down due to my lack of headtorch. Having topped out on the Verte recently and remembering how horrible and time consuming the summit ridge was we figured the best option was to rap back down the route. There are few decent in-situ belays on this route- though they have been beefed up a bit with our descent. On the plus side there are V-threads all the way down the Couturier now from the base of the route….but you’ll have to find them.