With only a few days left in France, a big storm rolled into Chamonix, leaving all the mountains with a new layer of snow on the mountains and me very frustrated - It took all of my willpower to summon up enough patience (definitely not one of my strengths...) to endure a couple terribly wet days in Chamonix and not to just leave... However, luckily I did stay and was rewarded by an amazing last couple days climbing on the alpine granite!
Les Untouchables - Mayan Smith-Gobat
A quick glimpse of Mt Blanc from across the valley on Mt Brevent
The first fine day was still a little snowy to head up onto the Mt Blanc massif, Martina and I chose to go up to Mt Brevent, where we did two very nice routes in a row. The first was a beautiful mixed (bots and trad) four pitch route, then the second was on the same formation, just a little to the right. Three rope-streatching pitches of technical, sustained and quite demanding climbing (7a+, 7b+ and another 7b+). It was a good day of climbing and we were back down in Chamonix by 3.30pm!
Hiking across the glacier with Trident du Tacul in front of us. The summit of Mt Blanc is in the top left of the photo
Then the next day Martina and I got an early start, drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel into Italy and took the cable-car up to Helbronner. At about 7am we were at about 3600m, already roped up and hiking across the glacier, headed for a rock spire below the summit of Mt Blanc - Trident du Tacul.
Trident du Tacul - Les Untouchables takes a series of cracks just left of the main buttress
Then the next day Martina and I got an early start, drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel into Italy and took the cable-car up to Helbronner. At about 7am we were at about 3600m, already roped up and hiking across the glacier, headed for a rock spire below the summit of Mt Blanc - Trident du Tacul. Our objective was an eight pitch route called "Les Untouchables"... A beautiful route on steep clean granite, with many pitches in the mid 7's and very diverse climbing - From steep splitter cracks to super technical slabs with invisible holds...
The parallel cracks of the crux - Martina and I climbed the left one
The crux pitch was at the top of the route, and had two variations - two cracks running parallel to each other up a steep blank face, either 7b+ or 7c+. Naturally, we choose to try the harder variant, which turned out to be predominantly purple and green camalots... The worst size for both Martina and I. I was glad of the ring-locking practice I had over winter on the sandstone in Indian Creek, and it obviously helped - I came very close to flashing the pitch, but unfortunately a foot blew and sent me flying.... However, I was still very happy to send on my second attempt! Leaving us plenty of time to rappel the route and be back at the cable car to catch the last lift down!
Happy to be in the mountains and on granite again!
This was a fantastic day! Thank you Martina for being my guide and showing me a diverse selection of what Chamonix has to offer... I am super psyched to come back for more next Summer!
Martina having a quick snack before heading down to catch the cable car
The cable car down into Italy
Now, after a few lovely relaxed days with my family in Germany, I find myself back in Colorado. Where I have launched straight into a brutal training regime to prepare for Yosemite - Thanks Rob!!! Everything hurts already, after only a few days here and I can see that pain is going to become my best friend again. But I know my body will adjust quickly and I am excited to give it my all and see what I can achieve.
Thanks to all my friends and sponsors who are giving me the means to follow my dreams!