Jonathan Griffith Photography Blog
Its been an awesome two months of climbing with Will Sim and wish him all the best now that he is back in the UK for the rest of 2008. He’s had a great first season including a lightening solo of the Frendo in his first week, a sub 9 hour ascent of the Ginat and a new route on the GM ridge of the Verte- pretty impressive considering he is still 18. No doubt there will be more to hear from him when he is back out this winter.
The weather still seems very erratic for the moment and with a projected snow fall down to 1200m today and tonight it doesnt sound like things are panning out too well for the moment. Added to this that the isotherm is going to rocket up to 4000m on Saturday when the weather clears a bit it isn’t ideal really. However in lighter news Rich Cross (Alpine Guides) and Stu Macaleese climbed the Schmidt route on the North face of the Matterhorn on Saturday reporting “bomber nick and perfect temps in the shade, although the top section was mixed and tricky. Not a single pebble fell on the entire face. Face was hammered over weekend by about 6/7 teams”. Well done them and I am not at all jealous…honest. Check out the Alpine Guides blog for more info . Proving that I was pretty wrong about the north faces and the high temps last week. Good on them for getting out. We are going to try for the Matterhorn this weekend so will report back then
Will Sim on his final lug up the Midi arete for 2008
high temps keep prevailing and whilst it is definitely getting colder at night it is also getting warmer during the day. It still feels like a hot summer’s day even in the morning off the Midi. We have been up at the Abri Simond on and off now for a while and here is what we have heard and seen:
Anything that takes the sun even for part of the day is either bone dry or about to be.
General ice conditions on anything that isnt north facing is pretty poor with either crumbling snow ontop of rock or very wet/ soggy ice. So anything in the alpine grade 5 or above range is very dicey for the moment. Climbs in the 4 and below grade are manageable. Basically anything that involves 90 degrees or thin sections just arent in for the moment as the quality of the ice just wont hold at that ‘level’.
We headed up to do Pinnochio 2 days ago but on the approach thought that Slave to the Rhythm looked better. Just climbing up to both of them proved a nightmare with loose snow and running ice ontop of slabs. Whilst from far away they look good upon closer inspection they are a bit of a death trap for the moment as the ice itself just isnt firm enough to hold a pick properly at that steepness.
Yesterday we tried Tentation (Mixed route on the Lachenal that Bracey and Bullock put up a couple of years ago). Whilst it looks awesome as a line once again we encountered loose snow instead of ice in the cracks so bailed half way up the fourth pitch. A shame as it is a great line with some awesome climbing but in reality all we were doing was clearing the rock of snow and then dry tooling up it.
Otherwise on the plus side Filo D’Arriana has been done by Gavin Pike and partner yesterday who reported not ideal conditions but at least they made it to the top so well done them. The Tacul Triangle seems to be attracting an aweful lot of attention so plenty to be done there. A party headed up the Cosmiques couloir at 10 today and wisely turned back. The Tour Ronde is also seeing alot of traffic on both the north face and the Rebuffat couloir ( trip report here ).
I dont really want to comment on the state of the North faces as personally I think it is still too warm but others differ in their opinions on that. If you do have your eye on them then all I can say is that all the classic lines look great for the moment- I just have no idea how safe they are right now.
Finally there were climbers on the Rebuffat on the Midi today enjoying the sun and granite and one guy climbing on the Eperon du Midi in shorts- it really is that hot up there for the moment. If I wasnt so hell-bent on climbing mixed i’d be out in my rock boots right now….
Will Sim on Tentation
Bailed on our plan for the Fourche area as the temps at the Midi when we arrived were through the roof. It has been so hot up high since then that it has felt like a hot summers day at times- no kidding. Plan B came into action and we dumped our kit in the Abri Simond to see what things would be like in the Tacul/ Lachenal area. Having just climbed M6 Solar last week we nipped up Pellisier yesterday which was in good nick (have seen and done it in worse!). Three parties were on the Gabarrou and one on the Modica. It doesnt look like you can finish the Modica but never chatted to those on it so thats just speculation. Those on the Gabarrou all arrived back very late to the hut reporting rather thin crumbly conditions.
It has also been very windy for the last 24 hours and coupled with fresh snow falling today will mean there will be some interesting approach conditions too. North faces are suffering enormously from all this heat as its not actually getting that cold at night even at 3800.
There was another serac fall on the Tacul- the same serac that killed 8 only last month- 2 days ago. Thankfully no-one was killed but 3 Poles were caught and helicoptered to hospital…nothing too serious I think.
Chose your routes carefully as stuff is falling down for the moment. Its alot like Spring for the moment up high
Unfortunately after a period of fantastic cold weather and stable thick nevee up high we seem to be dropping back into summer temps which is all a bit odd as it was snowing in town only 10 days ago. Unfortunately thats the way the inter-season goes and both Gavin Pike and James Clapham turned back from the shrund of the Colton-Macintyre (Jorasses) this morning reporting 5 degrees temps. Not ideal or safe then for the moment. Andrew Lanham reported very odd conditions on the Nant Blanc face yesterday finding lots of snow en-route and big cornices to get to the Whymper. He also found very warm temps at the Couvercle this morning….
So all in all not great news for the moment but ideal news for fat winter conditions come Nov. The weather is not set to get any colder either as the Foehn is in town for a while now. As for me, we are heading up to the Fourche with our eye on a couple of high lines or the Dom…..