Monday, 9 August 2010

2 weeks of Alpine Sport...

My knee began to give me trouble and the weather turned shite. This added to me being uninspired by the hills as all they do is cause my knee pain, meant that valley cragging became my main exploit for the last two weeks of our month in the Alps.
The weather being poor, meant we moved from the poor quality shack we had made, to a better known one elsewhere.
Me in the Bath and Chris at the Shack
This is where Chris was staying too and Franco and Chris had already teamed up to 'send' the American Direct on the Dru, in icy conditions!
I, unable to venture to the hills got in touch with my mate from Uni, Huw and we climbed some pretty poor sport at La Joux. This psyched me up to head back to the hills, for a rematch with Dimanche Noir (VIII).
Myself, Sam Dewhurt, Franco and Chris made one last foray into the hills armed with huge supplies, a tent and lots of gear. The weather was meant to be awful and we decided to sit it out and seige anything going in order to save our last 10 days!
We managed to get on Dimanche Noir, after an evening of heavy rain. It looked seepy but there was no option - we were both stoked for the apparently amazing second pitch, pure friction climbing on perfect Chamonix Granite.
Franco lead the second pitch, a 'F7a' slab pitch with 'unavoidable, bold climbing'. Chris and Sam elected to try an unknown route to the left as it was chilly and hanging around to climb Dimanche as a 4. The following  2 hours was ridiculous.
Franco, slowly but steadily made his way up the damp, cold slab in what can only be described as an odds game for success. Chris meanwhile was taking whippers and french freeing this blank, hard looking thing to the left.
I eventually seconded franco up the slab, the moves were utterly brilliant but the climbing was so smeary or non holds that when i eventually arrived at the belay after a couple of falls on 'hard points' franco and I laughed at how desperate it was for F7a! Amazing effort onsighting the pitch it must be said.
We rapped from here as the weather closed in, rescuing Chris on the way! Then, spent the next 2 days sat in a tent as the Aiguilles got snowed on, eventually admitting defeat when it dried up and ran back to the valley, via 4 different descents! Chris running down in the rain the night before to meet a friend (taking no gear as we hadn't decided to come down then), leaving me, Franco and Sam with a shit load of kit. Sam happily got the Tele down, taking two HUGE rucksacks with him. Franco ran down with a rucksack full of gear and 4 helmets on the outside and i, without a rucksack, had a few drybags on a piece of sling around my shoulder. Funny looks from walkers on the way down!
Down in the valley, I however found myself feeling light and strong on the local sport crags and i got a huge confidence boost with a flash of a F6c+ at 'Church Crag', when Will Sim and Oscar showed us this quality crag, that isn't in the guides. With this confidence, I quickly RP'ed my first F7a at Monolith and then towards the end of the holiday, a double O/S of F7a at Gaillands. The photo below is of 'Le Plague' F7c. This was good bouldery fun, which non of us managed. However, the same route with use of the arete is F7a, this was my first flash (before we tried the F7c!)

Me gurning on 'Le Plague'

The highpoint of the sport for me, was a near-flash of 'In Absentia' F7b at Gietroz. We weren't sure of the grade but the climbing looked superb. As it was, it was better than superb and my fall from the last bolt was not annoying, as Franco and Sam reckoned it was F7a+/F7b (Sam originally thought it looked F8c!!!!) and we later discovered it was F7b***. Go do it - It's amazing.

Franco on the brilliant 'In Absentia' F7b

Anyway, currently much more psyched for Sport climbing now, i actually enjoyed it in France/Switzerland.

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