News

Lizbet Fairley

We are saddened to report the death on 22 August of Lizbet Fairley. A member since 1975, Lizbet was one of the first women to join the AC by direct application, rather than via membership of the Ladies’ Alpine Club.

Wrights Retreat from K7 Central

Wrights Retreat from K7 Central

Americans Jeff and Priti Wright report that they were forced to turn back 100m shy of the summit of K7 Central (6,858m) after encountering difficult climbing that resulted in a number of lead falls and ate into their weather window. The pair told ExplorersWeb that the climbing above 6,500m weighed in at M5 and 5.11 with little solid protection.

Having decided to abandon their attempt, they retreated down the hazardous Central Couloir of the West Face, completing a 13.5Km round trip from their basecamp at 4,350m.

This was the first time that a team had attempted this unclimbed Pakistani peak.

 

An Instagram post showing the rock spire of K7 central in Pakistan

 

 

 

Report: 24 August 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 24 August 2022

 

After the little bit of snow last weekend which was a sight for sore eyes, the good weather has returned to our mountains.

Conditions in the high mountains have not improved and remain the same. The recent snow is hanging on at high altitude on northern aspects (above 3,800 m). Even if the isotherm remains quite high, the nights are long and cool with a good refreeze.

Activity up there remains very limited, with a fairly low number of people in the upper massif.

Snow and mixed routes (with a few exceptions: Tête Blanche/Petite Fourche, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Col des Dômes there and back, Mont Blanc by the Trois Monts for very experienced climbers) are not on the agenda, nor are the “grandes voies”. 

The only thing left is rock climbing, avoiding complex glacier approaches (Orny/Dorées, Argentière, Couvercle, Leschaux, Envers des Aiguilles/Requin, Aiguille du Midi, Plan de l'Aiguille, Aigilles Rouges, Monzino, Dalmazzi sectors).

 

Given the conditions, it’s best to contact La Chamoniarde directly to discuss the feasibility of your projects rather than writing a detailed newsletter.

Do not hesitate to send them your feedback!

 

Some brief news:

  • Planpraz and Flégère lifts have been extended until 18 September inclusive.
  • The Charpoua refuge is closing tomorrow, Thursday 25 August. Work will be undertaken and there will be no refuge or winter room until next summer.
  • The path up to Charamillon from Le Tour is completely closed, you have to go via the Col des Posettes
  • Many people go wrong in the ascent to the Albert 1er hut by the moraine route by climbing too high in the couloir. As a reminder, this route is neither marked nor maintained and is reserved for very experienced mountaineers or hikers.

  • Rimaye de la République is very tricky: big blocks of snow/ice on the slabs.

  • Big rimaye at the foot of the Punta Helbronner stairway. It can be avoided by walking along the rocky ridge (see photo below).

 

A photo showing the Punta Helbronner with the new descent marked by a green line.

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Reporting on the 2022 K2 Summer Season

Reporting on the 2022 K2 Summer Season

A photograph of K2, the dark summit pyramid rising above a layer of cloud

Mountaineering journalist Angela Benavides has reported on the recent guiding season on K2. This summer saw one of the busiest seasons ever on the world's second highest mountain, with photos of 'Everest-style' queues below the bottleneck making headlines around the globe.

In her article, available on ExplorersWeb, Angela examines the climbing tactics employed by the larger, guided expeditions and the impact that increased numbers have had on the mountain environment and inter-team relations.

 

 

 

Livingstone & Cesen Abandon Gasherbrum III Route at 7,800m

Livingstone & Cesen Abandon Gasherbrum III Route at 7,800m

AC member Tom Livingstone and Slovenian climber Ales Cesen have turned round roughly 150m shy of the summit while attempting to pioneer a new route on Gasherbrum III (7,952m).

Writing on his Instagram account, Tom explained that the pair had been forced to abandon their attempt due to a combination of "cold, weather, fatigue and lack of reasonable options." The pair's chosen line tackled the mountain via its North face/ridge, an approach selected out of necessity due to strong winds.

Tom has written frequently, including in an essay for Alpinist, about his desire to see alpine climbing progress to a position where hard, technical climbing can be done at altitude. While he and Cesen were ultimately unsuccessful on Gasherbrum III, aspects of the experience appear to bode well for this approach. Tom writes: "We didn’t feel too terrible at (just below) 8000 metres, which is encouraging…"

 

 

 

 

Fred Smith

We have been informed that Fred Smith, a member since 1976, died on 14 August.

Details of his funeral to follow.

Report: 08 August 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 08 August 2022

 

The dry spell continues in the mountains. 

Glacier and snow conditions continue to deteriorate. 

Plan B is more than ever rock climbing (without complex glacier approaches). There are no longer any snow routes in good condition, although some are still possible (although technically more difficult). 

There are regular rock falls and landslides in some places in the high mountains. Don't hesitate to share your observations. The drought is such that it can also lead to rock falls in the “moyenne montagne” (lower hills) especially after storms. Beware also of overcrowding on some routes. 

 

Tour / Trient / Orny 

The Trient hut closed for the 2022 summer season on 1 August 2022. It will reopen for the ski touring season in mid-March 2023. During the construction period, the hut is closed to the public. There are no winter or emergency rooms. The Orny hut will remain open. 

Crossing the Dorées ridge via the Col des Plines is still possible. The rock is very good both on the Orny side and on the other side (Envers des Dorées). 

The Tour glacier is increasingly chaotic (ice, fragile snow bridges, crevasses). The rimaye of the aiguille du Tour is wide open (3m). You can still get across on large jammed blocks but it feels like the end (see photos below, thanks to the Orny hut guardian). The col du Tour is passable but there is a lot of ice. 

Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche are still possible but the final part is icy (not very steep). 

 




Argentière Glacier 

Plenty of climbing here. Access to the hut is clear, but you have to look above you at the ladders (we are in the mountains!)

Large rock fall on 03/08 under the Pointe Farrar (Grands Montets ridge). 

 

Charpoua / Couvercle / Leschaux 

The Charpoua hut will close on 25/08. Renovation work will then begin. From this date until May 2023, the hut will be closed and there will be no winter accommodation. In the meantime, the gardienne has "closed" the Drus. 

A fixed rope is in place to access the Contamine on the Evêque. 

There are few changes in the Talèfre basin. The rimayes are opening but no particular worries for the Moine and the Nonne-Eveque. More activity on the Moine ridge on the Verte (the summit ridge is quite unstable). 

As a reminder, the Mer de Glace balcony path is an alpine hike with parts on glaciers and ladders: you need to have a good mountaineering spirit and not underestimate it. 

The routes above the Leschaux hut are perfect. The glacier access to the Aiguille de Leschaux seems problematic. As a reminder, access to the Petites Jorasses is no longer possible. 

Following the storms, there is rockfall and debris on the N face of the Grand Jorasses, all the parties who left for the Walker in the last week have turned back. 

 

Sector Envers des Aiguilles / Requin 

The rimaye of the VN de la République is still passable thanks to blocks of snow stuck in the rimaye (it's a bit of a “building site" after all). For how long (once they melt, it won't be possible to go through anymore)? 

Pedro Polar's rimaye doesn't go anymore: start on the first pitches of the "soleil a rdv avec la lune" (also a tricky rimaye here). Elsewhere, all is well. 

Access to the Requin is still OK on the left bank. Access and rock routes all good (Dent Requin, Pierre Alain). Climbing up the Vallée Blanche is a thing of the past (waterfalls, chaotic glacier). 

 

Helbronner Sector 

Less activity here. The glacier approaches are complex. Still a few parties on the Marbrées, Aiguilles d'Entrêves, Grand Capucin. 

 

Aiguille du Midi 

Here too the engine is idling. 

The Aiguille du Midi Arête is very technical (ice, steep), you need to be comfortable with cramponing. 

The normal route on Mont Blanc du Tacul is still possible from the hut (be careful with the rimayes + keep to a good timetable). 

It feels like the end for the Trois Monts which is more and more technical (Maudit middle rimaye very difficult, 2 ice axes + good technique needed). It is not at all an alternative to the normal route. 

You can still climb on the S face of the Aiguille du Midi. 

 

Plan de L'Aiguille 

Frendo and Mallory : All good (we're kidding but amazingly some people have tried!!!). 

You can climb on the Peigne, the red pillar of the Blaitière and the Aiguille de l'M. 

Access to and Cordier Pillar itself is very exposed (rock falls). 

 

Mont Blanc by the Goûter 

We aren't telling you anything new, the route is in bad condition and the Tête Rousse and Goûter huts are closed (including the winter rooms). Walkers can go up to the Rognes or the Tête Rousse (the glacier is icy and you will need crampons). 

 

Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay 

The ascent to the Durier hut from Plan Glacier can be considered very early in the morning after cool nights without storms. Access from the Conscrits is possible via the Col des Dômes. Aiguille de Bionnassay there and back is still not too bad. 

Avoid the Dômes de Miage traverse (ice, rock falls, crevasses above the col de la Bérangère). 

The Dômes can be considered as a return trip for experienced rope parties (good reading of the glacial terrain necessary, ice etc). 

The Aiguille de la Bérangère can be done as an out-and-back from the Conscrits hut. 

 

Monzino 

One of the sectors where it's good to live at the moment to do rock climbing (Aiguille Croux, Punta Innominata...). 

 

Aiguilles Rouges 

The best idea of Summer 2022. You can climb everywhere. Beware of overcrowding, for example on the Brévent (rock falls). 

No more (running) water at the Bellachat refuge, which remains open. 

Also beware of overcrowding in the bivouac spots and especially around the lakes. Please respect the rules of bivouac (from sunset to sunrise, take down your tent in the morning, one night in each place) or risk seeing this tolerance disappear. Similarly, you should avoid swimming in the lakes. 

 

Barberine 

Following a landslide on 06/08, the following long routes in Barberine should be avoided until further notice: Sylvie, Barbourine, Mirrors, Vipère and Méduse (see photos below). 

 

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

The First British Ascent of the Eiger North Face | Alpine Journal Extract

The First British Ascent of the Eiger North Face | Alpine Journal Extract

60 years ago this year, Ian Clough and Sir Chris Bonington made the first British ascent of the north face of the Eiger. In the Alpine Journal of the following year, Clough recounted their ascent in gripping, evocative prose and reflected on how the route had become a flame, fanned by the press, whose light drew in a generation of climbers, some woefully under-prepared for such a challenge.

We arrived, panting and sweating, at a low, shallow cave with a sandy floor. It would be dark in an hour and we could both lie here comfortably so we settled ourselves in to bivouack below the Difficult Crack. The sudden decision, the rushing round trying to borrow money for the fare, the early morning train drawing out of Chamonix Station, all seemed a long way away now. The wall had looked black and dry as the train had rounded the last bend to Grindelwald and we had known that the journey had been worthwhile; conditions were very favourable. I remember the girl in the bookshop, where we had copied the description from the back of Heinrich Harrer's book, trying to dissuade us with stories of the most recent fatalities, the look in the blacksmith's eyes as he had sharpened our claws, the bloodstains on the lower rocks where the fall of a solitary Austrian climber had been halted, the moments of doubt and indecision. But we were here now, on the Eiger's North Wall happy and confident, with four days of fine weather ahead if the Zurich forecasters were correct.

Bonington on the Hinterstoisser Traverse, by Ian Clough

Two small figures had been scurrying up the wall behind us. Like ourselves they wore crash helmets and carried bulging rucksacks on their backs. Now the first climbed the old fixed rope to the ledge near us. He introduced himself as an Austrian - Moderegger. Then his companion arrived: "Hello" - we were surprised to hear English - "I'm Tom Carruthers". We talked for a while. Tom's Scottish friends hadn't wanted to come on the wall and he'd met the Austrian at Alpiglen, the little mountain hotel at the foot of the wall. "What has he done?" we asked cautiously. "He's been in the Caucasus" Tom replied. I pictured Moderegger on a Caucasian coach tour. We didn't like it: a chance companion, experience doubtful, barely able to make themselves understood! It seemed foolhardy in the extreme. Still, they weren't our responsibility. We agreed that, should we all move at the same speed, it would be pleasant to have company, it would be a mutual morale booster against the frightening, cruel vastness of this notorious wall. The other pair went to bivouack round the corner. We cooked and ate a huge meal. Our sacks were too heavy, they must have weighed forty pounds, but felt like eighty as we had staggered up the thousand feet of scree and broken walls that evening, but now they were much lighter. We dressed in our down clothing and were soon asleep on our little sandy ledge, reassured that we were well nailed on. It was already a long way down.

Chris was shaking me. He was impatient to get away for it was late - 5AM! A hasty breakfast, then away. Carruthers and the Austrian were just behind us as we scurried up the Difficult Crack but they didn't keep up with us. We moved quickly together, along a fault of ledges and easy pitches below a great yellow overhanging wall, to the Hinterstoisser. There were several ropes across this rubicon of the old days and we were soon over the traverse, past the overhang of the Swallow's Nest bivouac, and climbing up what should have been the First Icefield. But the ice had receded and we were able to climb the rock beside it. We reached a steep step, the Ice Hose. Now we really began to appreciate just how good conditions were, for the Hose was a straightforward rock climb. Above us, bands of rock were showing bare beneath the Second Ice-field. Using these, connecting them by little verglassed ribs sticking up out of the ice, we trended leftwards until we were under the great, glassy, smooth sweep of the main part of the Second Ice-field. "Whatever happens here, don't look up", Chris called, drawing on the experience of his previous attempts on the wall with Don Whillans. Over a thousand feet above us, above a great vertical wall, was the mouth of the White Spider which usually belches forth debris from the upper part of the face. We were now entering the most dangerous area on the face; the zone of heaviest bombardment. I tried to make myself as small a target as possible, receding into my crash helmet as a frightened tortoise does into his shell. But the Ogre was frozen into stillness this morning. Not a stone fell.

There was no snow overlying the ice and crampons tended to scart off the tough surface. We decided to go directly up the ice-field to its upper lip. If we went diagonally across, as one normally docs, we would have to cut countless steps in the hard blue ice. It would take hours and the mountain's artillery might have opened up before we were clear. By going straight up we could use our crampons to better advantage. We moved off; crampons crashing, pick and dagger thrashing, only a quarter of an inch into the ice; teetering in precarious balance until a great bucket was beaten out and a security spike hammered in. We kept pitches short because our straining calves tired quickly and also because it was safer. One couldn't hope to hold a long fall. Using ice-pegs and screws for belays, cutting small nicks to rest on between quick staccato crampon moves, leading alternately, we proceeded rapidly and in comparative safety. But security on ice is only make-believe, and nerves as well as muscles were taut as we stabbed our way upwards. The angle wasn't that steep, about the same as a house roof, but the way the smooth giant of the slope plunged away beneath us to the meadows was awe-inspiring. It was a relief to be nearing the upper rim.

The Second Ice-Field by Ian Clough

As I stood in the bucket step, protecting Chris's advance, I was able to look around me for the first time that day. From the foot of the wall a great dark pyramid, the shadow of the Eiger, reached out across the meadows to the tourist hotel of Kleine Scheidegg. The rubbernecks and pressmen would be enjoying their breakfasts. Later they would come to peer through the telescopes, to enjoy the free entertainment. Were we actors in some drama, gladiators in the arena ? A long, low, plaintive note rang clear over the meadows and echoed across the wall. An alpenhorn. The old man whose daily task it was to play it for the benefit of the tourists was in position on his hillock. At first the sound was comforting, but as the day wore on its repetitiveness became wearisome and irritating.

The upper rim went easily, sometimes providing a gangway to walk along, at other times giving a sharp edge for the hands. We tried to leave the ice-field too early but, quickly realising our error, abseiled back and continued the long traverse. A steep little rock buttress took us up onto the flank of the Flatiron, the ridge which separates the Second and Third Ice-fields. We were high on the face now, going well. It wouldn't be long before we were clear of stonefall danger, before we reached the safety of the Ramp.

Down below us was a ledge cut from the ice, scattered with equipment. It was a grim reminder that the Eiger was not always in such a benevolent mood as it was this morning. For Chris particularly, it conjured up bitter memories ... memories of the tragedy of the previous month when the Ogre had claimed his first British victim: the sickening sight of a body falling; the hours of cutting across an ice-field which, with a hail of stones falling, seemed more like a battleground; the weary, semi-delirious fellow countryman they had nursed back down the wall as the stones fell and the storm broke. It was an experience that he and Don Whillans would never forget.

Morbid thoughts were quickly dismissed; one's whole being had to be concentrated on the present. We reached the crest of the Flatiron and scrambled up to the overhang of the Death Bivouac. Glancing back over the Second Ice-field we saw two black dots, Tom Carruthers and Moderegger, hardly moving, at the foot of the ice-field and inching their way diagonally across it. We were worried by their mistake but they were too far away for us to shout advice and we had yet to get ourselves out of the danger zone.

The Third Ice-field is the steepest and has to be crossed more or less horizontally to the start of the Ramp, a steep gangway which provides the only break in a 500-ft. leaning yellow wall. We slashed big steps and at one point saved time by making a long tension traverse from an ice-peg. The Ramp itself gave steep climbing reminiscent of the Dolomites. The rock was comparatively sound. We were glad, for this was technically the most difficult part of the climb. We enjoyed being on rock again. This didn't seem at all like the ferocious Eigerwand we had read about, it was just another great climb. But, on some of the stances were tattered remnants of polythene, occasionally a rusty can; some of our predecessors had had a hard time.

The Upper Edge of the Second Ice-Field, by Ian Clough

Wispy clouds which had slowly been forming down at the base of the wall, drifted up over the face like a shroud, hiding us from the prying telescopes and baffling the sound of the alpenhorn.

We arrived at the Waterfall Pitch where the Ramp steepens to a shallow corner chimney. This is often, as its name implies, the most unpleasant pitch on the climb icy water gushing down one's neck and sleeves makes a poor prelude to a bivouac. Today there was no water pouring down the corner, but a thin veneer of verglas covered all the holds. It gave one of the hardest pitches on the climb; inch upwards, scratch the ice from the next tiny hold; inch, balance, scratch, reach carefully and clip into a rusty old peg. Once or twice a foot would skid off its slippery wrinkle giving a tense moment for the second man but the leader was too absorbed in the next move to worry. After another section of clean, dry rock " we came to the Ice Bulge. It was a short chimney with verglas on one wall and thick, bulging, blue ice on the other. We climbed it back-and-foot. Now we were in a funnel of ice which led up to an amphitheatre of steep buttresses which lost themselves in the mist. It was cold. Another rope move from an ice-peg saved time and laborious step-cutting and landed us on a gentle rock rib beside the ice-funnel. We climbed upwards, wondering where the start of the Traverse of the Gods was. We must be near it now. Then we heard muffled voices. The mists thinned for an instant and we saw on the precipitous skyline on our right, a horizontal step. On it we could distinguish two small figures. We cut steps across the upper edge of the amphitheatre, traversed a crumbling ledge and by a steep crack gained the ledge on the arête.

Sitting there were two grinning Swiss. They introduced themselves as Jenny and Hauser. Although it was now only five o'clock they were going to bivouack as one of them had been hit by a stone, but they didn't need any assistance. They were going slowly; they had spent the previous night, their second bivouac, in the Ramp. We decided to press on since we still felt quite fresh and there were a few hours of daylight remaining. With luck we might even make the summit that night.

The traverse of the Gods, a series of broad but outward sloping scree-covered ledges, was almost clear of snow and we followed it easily towards the centre of the face, towards the White Spider. As we moved along, the veil of mists fell away from the face and the huge walls rearing up around us, plunging away below, glowed pink in the late afternoon sun. We looked out over the billowing clouds which still filled the valleys. We felt elated standing on that splendid belvedere, isolated from the world; it was truly a situation worthy of the Gods.

Moving on to the Spider, by Ian Clough

At the end of the ledge system we were confronted with a broad ice gully leading up into another huge overhung rock amphitheatre. Chris had begun to cut the first steps towards the little ice-rib in the middle of the Spider when, suddenly, there was a tremendous crashing and roaring and an avalanche of rocks came thundering down the gully and screamed out into the void below. The sunshine which we were enjoying was loosening rocks from their icy clasps. Chris came back quickly and we looked at each other, shaken: "It'll probably freeze tonight. Let's bivvy here".

We sat on our ledge and watched the sun slowly sink below the cloud horizon. It was a cold night. We slept for a few hours, then sat talking and brewing hot beverages until it became light. Stiff and clumsy at first, but soon warming up with the strenuous work of cutting steps, we climbed the Spider. Jenny and Hauser, following up our steps, were just behind us as we reached the top of the ice-basin. The entrance to the Exit Cracks was a narrow gully of frozen rubble. The gully continued upwards until it became lost in a forest of overhangs. We consulted our description and decided that we had to climb a steep ice-filled chimney on the left. Chris climbed it slowly. It was vertical and fearfully loose, only the ice keeping the holds in place. It was by far the hardest pitch we had encountered. I followed with a struggle and we pulled the leading Swiss up to the stance to join us. I had run out half the rope again before I realised that we were directly above the Spider. Surely we should be going over to the left? There now seemed to be a way round the overhangs at the top of the gully line. We were annoyed at losing so much time as we abseiled back into the gully. It didn't help much when we had to teach one of the Swiss how to abseil and we weren't particularly sympathetic when he excused himself by saying he had only been climbing a year! But later, at Kleine Scheidegg, we were amused when we were told of the sensation we had created at the telescopes. Apparently there was tremendous excitement when it was announced, by an 'authority' on the climb, that the British party were attempting a new Direct Finish!

The gully line, the Exit Cracks, became easier and easier as we climbed upwards. Soon there was no snow or ice. We marvelled that these were the same Cracks that had presented such great difficulties to men like Hermann Buhl. But, on the Eiger, conditions can mean everything. We were lucky to have it so easy. We took off the ropes and soloed up to the final ice-field. Hard ice again; on with the ropes. We were on the summit in the early afternoon and our happiness was so complete that we ran most of the way down the easy West flank. In less than two hours we were at Kleine Scheidegg. Jenny
and Hauser reached the summit at about the sarne time as we entered the hotel.

In the hotel the joy of our success was taken from us. We were told that two bodies had been sighted near the foot of the wall that morning. Did we know who they were? It came like a vicious blow. We felt shattered, sick with pity. Tom Carruthers and his Austrian partner were dead.

*   *   *   *   *

As we had hoped, Chris Bonington and I had had a smooth, uneventful climb in perfect weather and conditions. For a few days the cruel Ogre had been in a benevolent mood...yet, even so, two people, one a Briton, had fallen to their deaths. Only a month earlier another Briton had been killed and his companion was fortunate to be rescued.

From the facts we picked up later, it seems reasonable to assume that either Carruthers or the Austrian was hit by a stone. Observers at Kleine Scheidegg informed us that we had taken two hours to cross the Second Ice-field. Mists had hidden the second pair before they were half-way across but, on average, it was estimated that they would have taken eight hours! This would probably have put them on the Flatiron, the most dangerous position on the face (since it is directly under the Spider), at the worst time of the day. Tom Carruthers' watch had stopped at 5:15 about the same time that we encountered the stones coming down the Spider.

The previous British accident happened in virtually the same place and the events leading up to it followed a very similar pattern. Brian Nally and Barry Brewster took most of the day to get from their bivouac (the Swallow's Nest) to the end of the Second Ice-field where the accident occurred. Brewster was hit by a falling stone.

The cause of both accidents was the same. It wasn't just bad luck. Both parties were slow, mainly on account of errors in route-finding and judgement. Neither of these parties had sufficient all-round experience of big mountains to justify an attempt on the Eiger. They were victims of the atmosphere of hysteria which has grown up round the wall.

The Eiger is a great climb. Vast and complex, probably a more rigorous test of judgement and skill than any other European climb, it is, for the alpinist, a logical progression - almost a sort of finishing school. But, situated as it is, overlooking the tourist hotel of Kleine Scheidegg where pressmen can sit in comfort watching progress - it is also an arena, a circus. By publicity, it has been blown up out of all proportion; for some people it has become the only climb in the Alps, a place to make a name for oneself. Each year more and more young men of every nationality, blinded by publicity, make their premature attempts on the wall. Some get up, but the roll of honour is long.

 

 

 

Berg and Roberts Establish New Route on Jirishanca

Berg and Roberts Establish New Route on Jirishanca

Mountaineers Alik Berg and Quentin Roberts have climbed a new route on the east side of Nevado Jirishanca, often referred to as "the Matterhorn of the Andes", in Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash.

The pair have named the line 'Reino Hongo' and offered a grade of 5.8/90°/M7.

Writing on his Instagram page, Roberts described the route as "A line full of question marks. Steep complex snow, tricky mixed terrain, massive cornices, wild ice mushrooms, and a steep headwall at 6000m."

 

The mountain of Jirishanca with the line of Reino Hongo marked on it.

 

 

 

Edu Marín Makes Second Free Ascent of 'Eternal Flame'

Edu Marín Makes Second Free Ascent of 'Eternal Flame'

Edu Marín, climbing with support from his father and brother, has succeeded in making the second free ascent of 'Eternal Flame' on the Nameless Tower in Pakistan. 

The route was first climbed by Kurt Albert, Wolfgang Güllich, Christof Stiegler and Milan Sykora in 1989. It was 20 years before the Huber brothers would climb the route free in 2009.

Commenting in a post on his Instagram page, Marín laid out the possible unique nature of his ascent: "I have spent 28 days on the wall and I have sent it in a single push. Maybe I am the first climber who has lead all the pitches free climbing the route."

Marín is better known as a sport climber, but he has also climbed extensively in the Alps, completing a number of long, hard rock routes on classic alpine faces. He had previously attempted 'Eternal Flame' in the summer of 2021, but was forced to suspend his efforts due to the weather.

More details on the ascent can be found at Planet Mountain.

 

 

 

 

Report: 20 July 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 20 July 2022
 
Conditions are changing fast and not in a good way.
 
Some news to replace and clarify our last update:
 
  • Aiguilles Dorées traverse : all the parties turned back yesterday because of rock falls (see cahier de course on the La Chamoniarde website).
  • Rock falls on the Col Supérieur du Tour: it is once again better to go via the Col du Tour.
  • Tête Blanche is icy but it is not very steep. Same for the Petite Fourche but you can go up by the rocky ridge.
  • Teams on the Grands-Montets ridge on the Verte, the calotte at the top is tracked but dont hang around.
  • Rock falls reported on the American Direct.
  • “Tormented" glacial approach for the Walker spur. Some rock falls on the route. Almost everything is done in rock shoes. Descent not easy.
  • Rock falls on the access to the salle à manger (Dent du Géant, Arêtes de Rochefort): the local guide companies are not doing these routes anymore
  • Access to the S face routes of the Pointes Lachenal: the rimayes are complicated, abseiling is better. Good crampons (steel) are necessary for the ascent/descent of the Lachenal (all ice).
  • Beware of the Aiguille du Midi rimaye which is opening up more and more
  • A recent serac fall on the Tacul which hasn't worsened conditions on the route. Take care at the (many) rimayes on the route. Small fixed rope in place to facilitate the (strenuous) crossing of the rimaye under the col du Mont Maudit. The traverse to the col is not equipped, you need to be good on your feet (crampons).
  • Mont Blanc by the Goûter: the bad conditions only concern the part between Tête Rousse and the Goûter. Hikers who wish to do so can climb to Tête Rousse!
  • Col de la Bérangère to be avoided absolutely, in any direction: "constant rock falls".
  • Dômes de Miage and back, is being done every day, "a few" crevasses but still ok, more and more ice on the ridge.
 
A bit further away from us:
 
  • The guides in Cervinia no longer sell the ascent of the Matterhorn via the Lion ridge.
  • The guides in Zermatt no longer sell the ascent of the Pollux because of the state of the glacier.
  • The guides in Grindelwald no longer sell the normal route of the Jungfrau.
 
Finally, following numerous calls from our hiker friends, rest assured that rock falls or other hanging glaciers do not "threaten" the Tour du Mont Blanc nor the classic trails of the valley!
 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 
 
 

Benjamin Védrines Climbs Broad Peak in 7 Hours

Benjamin Védrines Climbs Broad Peak in 7 Hours

French alpinist and mountain guide Benjamin Védrines has reportedly summitted Broad Peak (8051m), his first 8,000m peak, in a time of just 7 hours. Reports indicate that Védrines did not use supplemental Oxygen, had no Sherpa support and descended by paraglider from the summit ridge.

Védrines, a member of the GMHM in Chamonix, has had a very successful year in the mountains. In autumn 2021, he opened a new route on Chamlang with Charles Dubouloz before, in early 2022, completing the so-called 'Winter Alpine Super Trilogy' with Léo Billon and Sébastien Ratel, (more on that here) ahead of a sub-24 hour crossing of the Mont Blanc Massif with Mathéo Jacquemoud in May.

 

 

 

19th Century Matterhorn Drawings Go On Display

19th Century Matterhorn Drawings Go On Display

On 2 July 2022 a temporary exhibition of drawings from the Musée d'Orsay opened which includes two works by Gustave Doré that will be of significant interest to mountaineers and alpine historians; 'The Conquest of the Matterhorn' and 'The Catastrophe on the Matterhorn' done in August 1865 in pen and ink.

Doré was also responsible for the subsequent lithographs of the Matterhorn ascent, produced in consulatation with Edward Whymper and discussed in this Alpine Journal article of 1995 by Alan Lyall. As you will see from the piece, Lyall had not been able to view these two earlier drawings.

The Exhibition is entitled "Les Arpenteurs de rêves; Dessins du Musée d'Orsay" and is at the Palais Lumière in Evian-les-Bains from 2nd July to 1st November 2022. (Details here). It then transfers to the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Quimper from 15 December 2022 to 13 March 2023. 

The two works may also be viewed in significant detail on the website of the Musée d'Orsay by clicking each of the images below.

Many thanks to Mark Boxer for bringing this exhibition to our attention.

 

Doré's painting of the ascent of the Matterhorn showing figures clustered on the summit.
Doré's drawing of the targedy of the Matterhorn, showing the climbers roped together mid-fall during the descant.
 
 
 

Report: 18 July 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 18 July 2022

 

Heat and drought, it looks like it's going to last...it's not going to help mountain conditions.

Conditions on glacier and snow/mixed routes are deteriorating quickly. There are beginning to be rockfalls even on pure rock climbs so choose your routes carefully.

 

Tour/Trient

Lots of teams on the Dorées traverse (E-W direction). There is also climbing on the S side of the Dorées. Access is via the Col des Plines (the fenêtre de Saleina is in bad shape).

A 45-50 m abseil is needed to cross the Col Blanc.

The glacier du Tour is drying out, not much snow, beware of fragile snow bridges. There are several "crevasse jumps" (watch out for your ankles when landing with crampons).

Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche (some ice) are being done, as is the Purtscheller.

Still some activity on the Aiguille du Tour normal route (rimaye ok). The Col Sup. du Tour is unpleasant and not very appealing but is passable. Be careful not to drop too many rocks on other teams.

Arête de la Table is ok if you do the integral route.

 

Argentière glacier

Land of the climber and the crystal hunter!

One of the sectors to practice rock climbing in peace and quiet...

 

Charpoua

The glacier to reach the Drus is still crossable (teams on the traverse and on the Contamine).

Some teams on Sale Athée. A team on the Contamine on the Evêque: little snow at the bottom so the gap between rock and snow (“la roture”) is OK, the start is on steep glacial slabs. 

 

Talèfre basin

Conditions are still good in the Moine sector.  The “roture” (gap between snow and rock) on the VN (voie normale) is deteriorating, you can go a bit more to the right and join the first belay before going back to the left.

The Moine ridge on the Verte is being done there and back. A lot of teams coming from the Grands Montets ridge. The “calotte” (snowy cap on the summit) is fine.

The Droites/Courtes sector is now only terrain for crystal hunters.

 

Leschaux

The rock routes are tip-top.

No recent activity on the Aiguille de Leschaux.

The snow bridges are getting thinner and thinner (and unlike cheese, it's not going to get any better) but it's still possible to access the Petites Jorasses.

Quite a few teams on the Cassin on the Walker spur. No significant rock falls for the moment. See below for a report from a climb on 15 & 16 July (this is a report from just one party and the perception and appreciation of the conditions may vary from one person to another depending on their level etc).

"The approach at the base of the spur is easy but there is a risk of snow/ice falls at the start, the first crack is dirty and scrappy for about ten metres (afterwards it is cleaner). Otherwise the snow is probably still climbable (I can send you a photo if needed).

Then it's generally dry up to the triangular névé (all in rock shoes).

The steep part of the red chimney is easy to climb with rock shoes despite the ice at the bottom (some teams wore crampons), but crampons are needed at the end of the red chimney to reach the traverse to the right at the foot of the Tour Rouge.

(Then I found it comfortable to keep crampons for the cracked slab accessing the traverse under the Tour Rouge and for the beginning of the very wet couloir at the right end of this traverse).

Then it's all dry as soon as you leave the couloir that borders the right side of the Tour Rouge (when you rejoin the crest on the left). (Done in big boots without crampons).

I put crampons back on one pitch below the summit (bits of ice and then a small traverse under the summit cornice).

To summarise I would say:

 

  • Rock shoes at least until the triangular neve

  • Crampons on somewhere between the triangular neve and the top of the red chimney

  • Remove crampons at the top of the Tour Rouge.
  • Put on crampons 60m below the summit.

 

Equipment: one ice axe per person sufficient.

 

Water:

  • In the afternoon in several places up to the base of the Alain-Rébuffat diedres.
  • Small névé shortly after the pendulum abseil.
  • On the descent, below the summit, ice is not far away. On the lower glacier you need to zigzag between the crevasses, at the end some short sections of ice (including 10m of black ice)."

 

Note that several teams turned back this morning: the level of the glacier being very low, there is more climbing than usual, watch this space.

 

Envers des Aiguilles/ Requin

The République rimaye is still passable (first by the rocks on the left bank then by the lower ledges to get a foothold on the rock (the upper passage is no longer ok).

Glacier des Nantillons no longer in use.

The other sectors are fine. République bananière rimaye OK, possibility to find water at belay 15.

Teams on the Dent du Requin (Renaudie) and the Aiguille Pierre-Alain (Congo Star).

Ascent of the Vallée Blanche still possible.

 

Helbronner

Access to the Salle à Manger is completely dry (see the report on the Dent du Géant in the "cahier de course” on La Chamoniarde). The Rochefort arête is still in good condition (some ice but fixed rope in place).

Teams on the Jorasses traverse in good conditions. For the moment, the descent via the normal route is OK. It seems preferable to descend via the Whymper rib (possibly doing the round trip to the summit of the Walker) rather than the classic route and the traverse under the serac. The Grandes Jorasses and Planpincieux glaciers are still quite accessible.

The Marbrées traverse (integral) and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves (be careful on the glacier) are being done regularly.

Aiguilles du Diable traverse: Dry, dry, dry! But still being done.

The rimayes are still there! Perhaps a deterioration at the Pic Adolphe Rey (you may need to go into it) but no certainty on the reliability of this information. Note a new rockfall on the Trident, which has not been done much in recent years anyway.

 

Aiguille du Midi sector

The Midi arete is deteriorating (ice, crevasses).

The traverse of the Vallée Blanche is pretty crevassed but still being done (repeated crevasse falls in the last few weeks). It is necessary to pass as low as possible under Pointe Adolphe Rey. An alternative route (see photo) has been made to avoid the precarious snow bridge under the Aiguille de Toule.

An annotated photo of the Vallée Blanche showing the new preferred route.

It's over for the Midi-Plan. Traversing the Aiguilles de Chamonix is also very dry, plan to descend by the abseils on the West face of the Blaitière.

Curtains for the Pointes Lachenal (all ice, unstable rocks in the abseiling area) and for the Triangle du Tacul.

The Cosmiques ridge is very dry. As a reminder, the abseiling area has been subject to rock falls/bursts for some years.

Trois Monts : The rimayes on the Tacul are becoming more fragile. The bridge of the upper one is regularly collapsing and you need to head more and more to the right. On Mont Maudit, the route is becoming steeper and there is ice on the traverse under the Col du Mont Maudit (2 ice axes recommended). Numerous crevasses to cross on the route. Reserved for good climbers with good crampon skills (as you have to go back down by this route).

 

Plan de l'Aiguille sector

Some chilly rock to climb.

It's over for the Nantillons. The Cordier pillar is being done (descend by abseil).

Go around the bottom of the Nantillons glacier (rock falls) to access the Aiguille de l'M/Cordier pillar etc.

 

Grands-Mulets

A few teams going to or from Mont Blanc. N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter possible (little ice). Contact the guardian for conditions and tips.

 

Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter

Itinerary in bad conditions (rock falls in the Goûter couloir) and currently not recommended.

 

Bionnassay /Dômes de Miage

The traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay is in good condition. However, access via Plan Glacier is not recommended (landslide under Durier). Preferable access from the Conscrits. The descent via the Goûter is also problematic. Possibly plan to sleep at the Goûter and then cross to the Aiguille du Midi via the Trois Monts (bring 2 ice axes).

For the Conscrits area, we quote the post from the refuge on Sunday 17/07:

"Difficult to keep you informed of the conditions, its changing all the time! But overall, it's not getting any better....

The Col de la Bérangère is icy, the traverse is not possible for the moment. It can be attempted, for experienced climbers, from west to east to go to the Durier, but beware of rock falls from the ridge.

Going to the Dôme Central and back is still possible, but you have to adapt to the conditions; the glacier is very crevassed (some sweaty incidents in the last few days, be very careful), some ice appears here and there... in short, it's alpinism!

For an unforgettable experience: those who suffer from the heat can come and refresh themselves in the beautiful swimming pools that you can find on the way up to the Bérangère!"

 

The other side of Mont Blanc

Refuge Gonella closed due to lack of water. The route is still possible. When the glacier gets too tricky, it will still be possible to go by up the Aiguilles Grises ridge which was partially re-equipped a few years ago (it's long).

Still some activity around here but we can't say the conditions are good.

Arête intégrale du Brouillard is possible but it's quite dry (be careful above the Col Emile Rey). The access from the Eccles and the Brouillard glacier is no longer possible.

The Brouillard and Freney glaciers are very crevassed, as is the Eccles sector. It is preferable to access the bivouacs via the Punta Innominata rather than the Brouillard glacier. There are still a few teams on the Innominata, on the Red pillar of the Brouillard and on the Freney pillar (no precise information on access).

Still some activity (be careful with more unstable weather the next days) on the Peuterey integral (see "cahier de course" on website).

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Report: 11 July 2022

 

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 7th July 2022

 

The drought is getting worse in the high mountains and the heat wave won't help. The conditions will continue to change rapidly, so please take this into account and don't hesitate to call La Chamoniarde or the huts for the latest information.

Snow and mixed routes are suffering more and more and few are still doable in reasonable conditions.

For those who want to go up there to cool off, you will obviously need to aim for rocky things (beware of rock falls).

 

Tour/Trient

As we have said, the Chardonnet is finished (keep the Chardonnay for the evening).

Arête de la table on the Aiguille du Tour: the integral is better in order not to expose oneself to rock falls in the lower section of the classic ridge.

As a reminder, the Col du Tour is the best way to get between the Le Tour side and the Trient. The Col Blanc needs a 50m abseil.

The rimaye on the normal route (VN) on the Aiguille du Tour is still OK, the glacier du Tour is also OK.

Rock climbing: Aiguille de Purtscheller, traverse and routes on the Dorées perfect.

 

Argentière Glacier

It's still possible to descend by the Glacier du Milieu for experienced climbers coming off the Arête du Jardin but it won't last long. It will then be possible to abseil down the (steep) route "La part des Anges": 2x50m ropes are needed; the belays are staggered (and therefore not always easy to find), to be considered only with the topo at hand.

Col du Tour Noir and rimaye du Col des Grands Montets are still possible as glacier routes.

Rock routes and Arête du Rabouin OK.

 

Charpoua

The American Direct on the Drus has been climbed regularly since the beginning of the good weather period. Beware of rock falls with the dryness.

A team was rescued at belay 14 of the Contamine route (two pegs ripped out).

The Charpoua glacier can still be climbed by going high, without abseiling.

As a reminder, a new abseil line was equipped last autumn from the Grand Dru (topo). Bearing in mind current conditions on the glacier, the right hand line is better and allows you to get back on the glacier high up.

Rock routes are dry (teams planning the Sale Athée).

 

Talèfre Basin

The Peace of God reigns on the Ecclesiastical ridge (Moine, Nonne-Evèque) where everything is looking good.

For the Verte, it is now only up and down by the Arête du Moine (see cahier de course).

It's dry on the Droites. On the Courtes, alternating snow and rock under the col de la Tour des Courtes then a pitch of ice below the summit. A rock fall on the Argentière side of the Aiguille qui Remue has changed the route of the Courtes traverse (pretty dry anyway). The descent from the Col des Cristaux has gone into “crystal hunter” mode.

If it's not already the case, it will soon be the end for the Pointe Isabelle.

Crampons are useful for a passage that has become sketchy on the Couvercle-Leschaux traverse.

 

Leschaux

Petites Jorasses: glacier ok (a big snow bridge but it seems solid), dry routes (quite a few teams on the Contamine).

Aiguille de Leschaux: more complicated glacier, the track wanders between the crevasses, it might change.

The Cassin on the Walker spur seems to be on (beware of rock falls and overcrowding). The glacier approach goes well enough but beware of ice falls that cross the track. There is good snow at the bottom. Then it's all dry. Above the red chimney (cheminée rouge), there is mixed terrain (rock-ice) which requires many time-consuming manoeuvres with big boots/rock shoes/crampons. It's good to have a technical ice axe.

 

Envers des Aiguilles

The rimaye of the Grépon-Mer de Glace / République is complicated (see cahier de course): getting established on the rock is very thin and steep ("it's scary"): it should evolve quickly (maybe possible to go lower).

The Tour Rouge hut has been damaged. The door is no longer "fixed". Try to secure it (having said that, no snow forecast).

The descent by the Nantillons glacier is no longer in good condition and is rather challenging: ice and substantial rock fall. Moreover, the snow bridge in the large crevasse under the serac has collapsed: you have to abseil down the crevasse (20m, dead man), cross over the bridge which has collapsed halfway down and then come out on the other side (exposed to rock falls and the serac). There is still the solution of abseiling "Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune" but it is long and not obvious without having climbed it.

The other rimayes are ok for the moment.

 

Requin

The ascent of the Vallée Blanche is still OK but it's complicated: crossing the stream above the refuge (in spate with the temperatures and the poor freeze) & crevasses between the combe and the plateau above the Géant seracs.

 

Helbronner

Dent du Géant/ Arêtes de Rochefort/Jorasses traverse (info from a team who did it on July 9&10, thanks for the info!

  • Climb up to the salle à manger: dry.

  • Traverse of the Rochefort arete to Canzio: Good conditions. Snow. On some short passages (maximum 10 meters), the ice is not very far under the snow. When it is rocky, everything is dry.

  • From Canzio to Pointe Walker: Everything is dry until Pointe Croz, no need for crampons. The couloir up to the Pointe Marguerite is dry, but it doesn’t matter. The bivouacs at Pointe Marguerite are still covered in snow (we cleared one of them, it's done). From Pointe Croz to Pointe Walker good conditions, with snow. The bivouacs at Pointe Whymper are under snow.

  • Descent: Some ice in the rocks below the summit. Traverse under the seracs ok, good track and snow. Rochers Whympers dry, abseils ok. Traverse to the Rochers du Reposoir, snow, no ice. Rochers du Reposoir, dry, no need for crampons. Glacier after the Rochers du Reposoir, crevasses filled in. A steep 10m passage (black ice) at the very end (but if you take your time it's no problem).

Aiguilles Marbrées traverse (best to do the full route) and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves (no ice) OK. SE ridge of the Tour Ronde more than dry!

Kuffner: The end. It's very dry, bad conditions (risk of boulder falls).

Arête du Diable: Dry but still doable, beware of rockfalls (other climbers) in the access couloir.

 

Aiguille du Midi

Crossing the Vallée Blanche: It's getting worse, several precarious bridges (especially in the Gros Rognon sector and under the Aiguille de Toule (see photo below). It is necessary to pass well below the Pyramid du Tacul.

Three climbers cross a precarious snow bridge on the Vallée Blanche

Midi-Plan: Curtains, it's too dry.

Pointes Lachenal traverse: It's very dry, ice on the access slope and on the traverse. It's no longer an AD route. You need to be comfortable with cramponing. Note there is a big slab that is hanging off the serac of the E face of Tacul and that overhangs the descent track.

End for the Chéré (the ice is coming off...!). Grisolle may be possible but not attractive.

Cosmiques Arête: Very dry, beware of the abseiling area under the gendarme.

No bad news from the rimayes for the rock routes but it can evolve quickly (except for Harold et Maud which was already complicated a few days ago).

Trois Monts: Conditions are holding for the moment even if the two rimayes on the Tacul are showing signs of activity (cracks). The ice is not far away on the exit slope to the Col du Mont Maudit. It's quite steep and you need to be very comfortable with cramponing (especially on the way down). Preferably in teams of 2.

 

Plan de l'aiguille

Rocky rock!

For the Charmoz-Grepon, we would like to tell you that it's finished because of the state of the Nantillons glacier but we will let you decide for yourself.

A few teams on the Cordier pillar (descent by abseil).

A bit of activity on the traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles but it's quite dry. You have to descend by the numerous abseils on the W face of the Blaitière (50m max) then those of Fidel Fiasco.

 

Grands Mulets

Still open. Access to the refuge is long and complicated but it is possible. Call the guardian to get advice. You can still cross the Plateaux.

 

Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay

The traverse of the Dômes de Miage has clearly deteriorated (ice above the col de la Bérangère, exposed). It is now only for experienced climbers and should be done in the direction of Bérangère-Dômes in order to do the ice part on the way up.

Dômes de Miage there and back is still possible for less experienced climbers.

It's over for the Tondu ("the drier it is, the more it collapses"!!!)

The Aiguille de Bionnassay traverse is still in good condition (no ice at the moment).

 

Gonella

The refuge is closing this Sunday 17/07.

 

Monzino

Brouillard arête: Rock fall above the Col Emile Rey.

Access to the Eccles is chaotic (snow bridges, seracs). It's better to go via the Punta Innominata.

Good conditions on the Innominata this morning (11/07).

Access to the Red pillar of Brouillard is sporty (50m abseil on the right bank). It's ok for the moment but for how long?

Teams on the Freney pillar without more information. Teams also on the Ratti-Vitale but the crossing of the glacier is reminiscent of Mordor.

Teams on the Peuterey Integral. It's dry until the Blanche. There is still a very small névé under the Pointe Brendel and another difficult one under the Cravetti. Ice not far away on the Peuterey ridge, to be continued.

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Pou Brothers & Micher Quito Add New Line to Pumahuacanca

Pou Brothers & Micher Quito Add New Line to Pumahuacanca

Following a number of other recent ascents in Peru's Cordillera Blanca, the team of Iker Pou, Eneko Pou & Micher Quito have made the first ascent of a new route on the South-West face of Pumahuacanca (5,563m).

The 1,000m line was climbed alpine style in a single 12 and a half hour push from the team's high camp. This provided the inspiration for the route's name: 'One-Push'. The trio have described it as "the hardest high mountain route of our career", suggesting a grade of M7/85º/V.

More details are available at Planet Mountain.