Grepon – Le Soleil Rendez-vous Avec La Lune

I am currently doing a block of work in the UK and it gives me little time to get out in the mountains so I’m playing the weekend warrior game. I was really motivated to have a proper adventure and craved the solitude of the big mountains so Philippe Gatta and myself made plans to climb Banana Republic on the Aiguille de La Republic or “Soleil” on the Grepon.

After walking into the Envers hut we sat on the terrace discussing plans in a remarkably chilly autumnal wind. In the end we decided to go for Soleil as we would be able to move faster in the cold and stay warm. The only thing was Philippe was mad for the traverse of the Grepon so we would carry crampons, axe and big boots up 25 pitches in order to descend the Nantillions Glacier.

After a noisy nearly sleepless night at the refuge we got up at 430 and started climbing at 6 though the second 6a+ slab pitch had us waiting for a little more light to see the crystals in the rock. The morning dawned with low cloud that had locked in some warmth and we moved quickly despatching 5 pitches in a hour.  Then we climbed into the mist and tricky route finding slowed us. As we climbed higher I put on my light down jacket then my heavier one as the temperatures steadily dropped. After pitch ten I got my first dose of screaming barfies as the touch of cold and sometime wet rock made itself felt. We still hoped the weather would break but it seemed to be getting darker and on pitch 18 we started to find ice in the cracks.  Then on pitch 19 lots of snow barred the way with only 6 pitches to go. Frustratingly it was time to bail and leave the summit of Grepon for a glorious sunny day. We didn’t make the summit but we climbed some fantastic pitches and I got the adventure and solitude I was looking for in the austere surroundings created by the poor weather.

On the walk down to Chamonix we passed the Montenvers Hotel and stopped by for some food. If you havent been in there I highly recommend it with its beautiful panelled wood interior and similar prices to the refuges.

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Return to Rock

After a quick warm up on Mont Oreb’s ‘l’Ete Indiane to get back into things, we spent 3 back to back days last week escaping the 35 degree valley heat on the perfect golden granite on South Face of Midi 3842 m climbing Kolmann (6a+), Contamine (7a) and Jules de Chez Smith (6b). With cooler temperatures this week we were able to hit the fingery Zone at Gietroz and sample some of its impeccable gneiss.20140611_091503 20140613_114605 20140613_095650 20140613_085059 20140613_074230 20140612_103907#1 20140612_102747 20140611_120613 20140611_110814 20140611_110745#1 20140611_110432 20140611_103543 20140611_093837Ramche Hyper-12Ramche Hyper-7