Forums Trip Reports Summer in CHX – 3 classic north faces
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  • #573365
    358 Posts

    Not a splitboarding TR, but I did recon a route I have earmarked for winter, which incidentally Jeremy Jones did as a warm up for his time in the alps =)

    I spent most of August in Chamonix. Apart from a bit of hiking and cragging, the Pablo Casals chamber music festival, bicycle touring, eating cheese and jam nights (i had my electric bass with me =D), I got to climb 3 classic north faces this summer, in spite of the weather’s best attempts.

    First was the Contamine Grisole route on Mont Blanc du Tacul:

    My climbing partner this summer, Chanan, on the first snow slopes going into the route:

    Getting more interesting:

    Here you can see another party (which got up on time) on what would be our second simulclimbing pitch:

    Summit of the triangle, with the middle of the normal route for Mont Blanc du Tacul on the left:

    Me coming down the normal route:

    Next we climbed Tour Ronde, via the Israeli Direct route (we had some routefinding trouble ;-)):

    The normal way sticks to the right of the choke and goes directly into the upper slopes, the red line is what we actually climbed.

    The bergschrund at dawn:

    And onto the face:

    This is where we went off route and were “rewarded” with some unexpected mixed climbing…

    The view from the top of the ice, with the last bits of our approach through the giant crevasses. Aiguille Verte is in the center:

    Out of the ice, into the snow:

    And on to the rock (this is also not part of the route either, but the traverse through the gully looked sketchy with no snow on it):

    The view from the summit looking south west; Arete de Peuterey which leads to the summit of Mont Blanc, with Aiguille Blanche on the left:

    This beautiful face was skied only once by Patrick Vallençant and Anselme Baud in 1977:


    JJ talks about it here and also in his blog post linked in the first paragraph.

    Finally we went to Italy to climb Gran Paradiso:

    This one looks ridable too, depending on how much snow sticks to it.

    On these longish routes it’s all about being mentally fit:

    More shrunding:

    And more sunrise:

    Me below the serac, 2/3 of the way up the wall. As you can see we put in plenty of pro 😉

    It’s all about summit madonnas here in europe:

    This summit was actually not very fun because there were two hysterical groups of tourists who were guided up the normal route that took forever to get out of the way.

    692 Posts


    Thanks for sharing the Euro stoke and photos! This seriously fuels my Euro fire….

    So, do you need a roommate in Chamonix? 😉

    358 Posts

    Well, I have no plans for the winter yet, I’m going to university (finally) in Israel this october, so I think I’ll only have about 2 weeks or so in CHX this year. That said, I will definitely be up for splitboarding partners =)

    864 Posts

    Beautiful climbs!

    minus that metalic looking vertical pitch 😉 ladders are aid….

    Hope you get to ride them in good conditions. looks sick!

    1114 Posts

    Good stuff NM. Looks like such a sweet playground. Cant believe what those guys did back in the day on that gear.

    4150 Posts

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing! :headbang:

    358 Posts

    I wasn’t climbing up so it doesn’t count 😉

    Here is a bigger picture of the whole mountain, our way up is on the left side of the rock triangle in the center, and the way down is the obvious tracks on the normal route:

    The ladder bridge is across the lowest crevasse on the face. It looks like there’s a way around that crevasse if you walk for a few minutes to looker’s right, but it’s exposed (seracs) and there’s hundreds of people who go there every day (it’s one the first bits of one of the normal routes to the mont blanc) which I’m guessing is why they went all himalaya on it. The crevasse itself was gigantic, about 50 meters deep and 3 meters wide.

    As for descents – the normal route on tacul is a classic ski descent in late winter and spring, and the normal way down gran paradiso is also a classic tour (much easier to negotiate the glacier… somebody posted a lovely TR last year I think). I wouldn’t go down the Contamine Grisole though, it’s mostly rock, and it remains to be seen how the north face of GP holds enough snow. It’s long and sustained, quite steep, but with very little exposure all things considered (the bergschrund was pretty closed even in august, the runout is a pretty mellow glacier, and if you fall and slide there are no rocks on the way).

    I’m definitely looking forward to riding tour ronde though, this winter my todo list is cosmiques couloir, followed by the bottom half of tour ronde, and maybe followed by the exposed upper half of tour ronde if my nuts are big enough.

    H4T: those dudes are in a league of their own… They pretty much invented extreme skiing in that part of the world. Here’s more info about Patrick Vallençant, and Anselme Baud is the author of the pretty much the canonical steep skiing guidebook for this mountain range.

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