Wednesday 21 April 2010

Too Late To Say I'm Sorry, Aig Vert

The volcanic ash cloud may have been causing chaos for travellers all over the globe but luckily it hasn't blotted out the sun in Chamonix yet, quite the opposite. Eventually the weather seems to have settled down here and we've enjoyed some rare stable weather for the last couple of weeks.

Heading up the last cable car to the Grands Montets in the evening Dave and I joined a number of teams already insitu for the evening, including the Spanish Alpine Climbing Team (a.k.a Spanish wads!). We'd headed up to do the Robert Jasper line of 'Too Late To Say I'm Sorry', a 1000m line with 300m of thin ice and mixed climbing starting out of the Couturier Couloir and finishing on the Grand Rocheuse (4102m). Crossing the shrund with the first rays of light we quickly moved together over neve and hard grey ice and the first technical pitch of the route before putting in a belay below the crux pitch.

Heading towards the line of 'Too Late To Say I'm Sorry' (marked in red)

Getting the second rope out Dave started a snow cleaning mission to unearth ice and a crack to make a difficult traverse rightwards under a roof. The second part of this pitch is the crux, with the main corner lacking enough ice to climb this year previous parties had either aided or freed the crack to the right at M6 to rejoin the corner 10m higher. Wasted from his snow clearing efforts and in the aid of speed Dave reluctantly pulled on a few bits of gear before tensioning across in to the corner. Seconding on a tight rope I just managed to get it clean, only just managing not to hold up one of the Spanish wads who was leading right behind me... impressive to watch.

The next two pitches gave me some of the best mixed climbing I’ve done in a while, good gear, thin ice and an amazing situation leading to the final ice gullies.

The final pitch was probably one of the most aesthetic and quality pitches either of us has climbed in the mountains, a 40m perfect ice runnel finished off the technical climbing.

The amazing final ice runnel

Wanting to get the full mountain experience we carried on up and easy broad gully to join the East ridge of the Grand Rocheuse and it's summit. A short abseil off the top and 15 minutes later we were standing on the top of the Aiguille Verte. Down climbing the Couturier Couloir in perfect conditions we eventually arrived back at our skis and just got back to the valley without head torches.

On the East Ridge of the Grand Rocheuse, summit of the Aig Vert in the top right of photo

Approaching the summit of the Aig Vert

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