The last couple weeks have been very busy for me here in Chamonix, catching first bin at the Midi or Grands Montets most days. During a week of on and off snowfall I went mostly lift-served skiing – most of it mediocre, but with some nice snow in the Capucin Couloir (off the north side of the Tacul Shoulder). The weather then began to clear, and the past week was warm and sunny every day, with lots of opportunity to go out on bigger days.
A few days after Les Courtes, Nils and I went back to the north face of Les Doites, this time with some skis, extra food and cooking equipment in our packs, with hopes to continue the next day to the Grandes Jorasses. Colin starting the first pitch of the Ginat above the central icefield. Photo by Nils.
Nils skiing down into the Talefre Basin from the south side of Les Doites. Snow conditions on the south side were horrendous, which caused us to reconsider our Grandes Jorasses plans for the next day. The descent off the Italian side of Grandes Jorasses involves a lot of down-climbing steep snow and hanging glaciers, which might be dangerous, and certainly a pain in the ass, in such bad snow conditions.
Rather than descend to the Leschaux hut to try the Grandes Jorasses the next day, we decided to stay in the Talefre Basin at the Couvercle hut. The view of Grandes Jorasses in the evening from the Couvercle hut. Photo by Nils.
Without knowing much about it, the next morning we decided to attempt the Aiguille du Triolet from the Talefre Basin. Colin on the Talefre side of the Aiguille du Triolet, with the main summit behind. We decided to try to climb the ridge from the two false summits, which was a mistake, and we dead-ended on steep, loose ridge climbing (we now know we should have traversed under the false summits on the north side). Photo by Nils.
Nils filing his ice tools at the Eigergletscher train station, where we slept the night before the climb. Above him on the left is the north face of the Mönch and the north face of the Jungfrau on the right.
Nils above the “difficult crack,” with Kleine Sheidegg visible below the face. We had a truly Alps climbing experience on the Eigerwand, because a music festival happened to be taking place in Kleine Sheidegg last weekend, and for the upper half of the face we could clearly hear the pop music pumping up the face.
Myself on the “exit cracks” in pretty dry conditions. There is probably no other route in the world with more significant climbing history than the 1938 route on the Eiger. I thought it was really special to visit all the places I remember reading about in Harrer’s “The White Spider” when I was a kid. Climbing the route makes me want to re-read the classic book and refresh my memory. Photo by Nils.
Myself on the summit of the Eiger at 2:00pm. We were slowed down a bit because we had to pass six parties (yes, there were nine rope-teams on the 1938 route on Sunday!), but nonetheless the conditions were great and 7:45 from the base to the summit felt like decent time. Climbing the 1938 route leaves me even more impressed by Ueli Steck’s incredibly fast time of 2:47. I think this speed record is amazing, and much more impressive than the current speed record on The Nose. Think about it – a whole bunch of climbers have now climbed The Nose in less than 3 hours, but the second-fastest time on the Eiger is 4 and a half hours (set by Italian Christoph Hainz in 2003). Photo by Nils.
Bjørn-Eivin Årtun arrived in Cham Sunday night as we returned from the Eiger, so yesterday the two of us climbed the Contamine route on the south face of the Aiguille du Midi to use up the last of the splendid weather window. Bjørn-Eivind on the second pitch of the Contamine route.