Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fil a Plomb and goulotte fun

This planet is going to explode...seeing the summer temperatures we are having around Europe, ski touring is over for this year, and goulottes are getting there too - this april conditions are similar to last June or July.

Why not use them and do another classic - Fil a Plomb, a reputed goulotte finishing on Col du Plan in Cham? It actually prooves to be very worthwhile with interesting climbing and challenging ice. First 500m go through the snow, and than 7 pitches of ice follow. One thin crux, and everything else around 3+ - just get the tools in and go! My only problem being acclimatisation and totally screwed up breathing - oh well, my partner, Christian, is strong and willing, so following becomes more and more comfortable for me. The scenery is awesome and we are almost alone on this N face.

We are slow too, and are ready to start the Midi-Plan traverse at 8, with sun going down and disappearing tracks in the snow. After some rappels and a good scare about being off-route we manage to get to the arete and finish at Cosmiques this long long day.
Afterwards it's my first time in Aosta valley, than some rain in Orco where we do the sightseeing of the famous Disperanza Fissura, and than a route in Boursin valley to finish the stay with a train back from Briancon. Thanks chtur for this short-notice outing!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Presles or Paques Celebration

3 days - and what better spot to visit than Presles, this Vercors gem? I fell in love with the place since my first time there last year. Some people might think the routes repetitive, but i am almost certain this is my type of paradise on earth. So much rock, all hard, all demanding, and than the moment you turn your nose 180 degrees from the rock, happiness gets a hold of you with the ocean of grean and stone and cows below.

My loving Presles certainly didn't stop it from kicking my butt - starting with the first route, Pillier de Charanches. We noticed it in Petit's book and decided to give it a try with all our good cams and nuts. The descent down the Choranche ramp was pretty bad. First pitches were good though, with cracks and cracks and cracks. Second half was harder and more overhanging - less fun IMHO. Underestimating routes has always been my problem - sure we were at the last traverse pitch as it became pitch dark. Surprise surprise, to get back to the trail we still had around 150m of scrambling to do up crappy terrain with rocks, trees, bush and all...Back at the car at 11 calmed down our enthusiasm to try another route recommended by Petit, but a bit harder - Cons qui s'adorent.

We opted for a more classic Coucou nous revoilou the day afterwards. Very nice climbing with awesome pitches at the top and pretty hard 6cs in the middle. A short storm scare, and we were in time for Ezio's lasagne.

Last day we wanted to do shorter, easier climbing to be ready to leave quickly enough in the afternoon. Something i wanted to do since last year - Supercouloir, seemed to be a good idea. The approach with the new Tapis Vert rappels was pretty comfy - but unfortunately we went down too much and had to start with a strenuous 6b to get to the beginning of Supercouloir. This one proved a very nice route - last surprise being the difficulty to get back to the trail - a 7b chosen randomly finally let us out after hard efforts of aiding. First drops of rain caught us at the car. Good climbing - good w-end, but O my god, i'm out of shape...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Berner Oberland and its King

Finally a long ski touring expedition saw us through during these last days of March. Weather got settled and we went off - ready to pay the Jungfraubahn price to penetrate the mistery of this threesome giants' story - Monch endlessly trying to ceduce the Jungfrau and Eiger curiously looking in a different direction with a scorny face.

The first day saw our optimistic plan of going up the Jungfau go down very quickly. We went up the Laumihorn col instead and down to the Konkordia crossing and hutte, as full of snow-excited tourists as possible. Second day saw us up the Gross Fiescherhorn, a pleasant strall, with a final possibility of two summits from the col (see pic below) - Gross or Hinter Fiescherhorn.

I opted for the first one and got the solo ascent of the last 50m of the arrete. That much for my revange on my failed solo attempt on Monch last year. The descent presented us with a beautiful view of our next day's objective, the king of the land - Finsteraahorn.

Finsteraahorn hutte prooved even more comfortable and clean - you would think it were a hotel if not the absence of any water around. The next day was harder for me although I did get to the top - last but not least. The last 200m of the arrete were exceptional - easy but breathtaking thanks to the constant reminders from the North face. Perfect summit, a nice descent and a long long sleep at the hut followed.

The last day we finished with a descent on Munster and a train ride through the Kandersteg tunnel to get back to our car in Spiez. Good trip - and so much more to do!

P.S. - a goat that greated us in Munster, a ghost town à la American Wild West, swiss style.