Last weekend I was at the Kandersteg "not so much" ice festival. It was a shame the conditions were really poor as I had arranged to stay on for a few days after with my friend Ben Winston to climb some ice. http://www.benwinston.co.uk/ The conditions were really bad so we decided to head back through to Chamonix. Ben had 3 days to play with and being a new father he has to savour and make the most of any free time he gets.
Our main aim was to climb the Rab Carrington - Alan Rouse on the North side of the Aiguille des Pelerins. It seemed quite a fitting route for us to climb. As Ben and myself met through the company Rab that sponsor me, whose founder was Rab carrington.
On his first day we thought we'd go for a quick ice hit at Grandes Montes. The temperature was really warm which made us a bit unsure what to get on, but a safe bet for the area is EMHM. Classic grade 4 ice climb for the area.
After we got down from the GM we grabbed some lunch, sorted out the gear and headed for the Midi station. We got off at the mid station and skied down to the hut where we fine dined, and managed to sleep for 12 hours, due to my alarm not going off. This was the most amount of sleep Ben had had in a long time. The new daddy was really getting spoilt on his holiday. With a late start we left the hut at 7.30 and were gearing up by 9.00.
To get onto the route you must quickly climb under a serac wall, in good conditions you can avoid this by climbing icy slabs, but we had to do the 10min dash around and onto the snow slope slopes. After 150m of these snow ramps you arrive at the first runnels which has one small section of 80°, then lays back and brings you to a snow bay which is climbed for 100m. After this you have 6 pitches to the top. The first 4 are made up of amazing ice runnels that bring you to a grade Scottish 5 mixed wall. After a lot of low angled ice and nevie climbing it was really good fun to climb some mixed terrain
The last pitch had some thin ice and more grade Scottish 5 climbing. Once at the Col we hopped onto the sunny side to catch our first proper rays of the day before we got involved with the abbs back down the route.
It was dark when we arrived back at the skis which made the skiing out even more fun, as if it wasn't fun enough skiing with big bags on. The worst part was the ski back down to town as I managed to get us lost in a maze of trees and bushes, which was the last thing we wanted to deal with.
On Ben's last day we decided to have a chilled ski day on the slopes, before he headed back to his family. Was great to catch up with Ben and to climb a classic route of the valley with him. Cheers.
Ben Winston's website; http://www.benwinston.co.uk/
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