Traverse of Pointe Lachenal and some epic snow slope action

After sitting around Chamonix for 4 days with the worst sunburn I have experienced in my life (even with living in the middle east for 12 years or so) we finally managed to get up into the mountains today. My right arm is still rather elephant like, but oh well what to do.

We decided on the Traverse of Pointe Lachenal, graded AD, which is the 3 wee summits you can see from the midi. The descent down the snow slope leaving the station was much more straight forward today as I am now used to the exposure! We left the station around 9am, and reached the first ‘summit’ just after 10am.

Here are some nice photos of us en route:

scary snow slope

Keith in action on the snow slope (chamonix in the distance)

what a happy couple!

Summit number 1

We moved together right up until the last chimney which Keith then led. Most of the climbing before the chimney is fairly straight forward and there is one wee exposed walk along a rocky ridge, and one abseil into a couloir.

plane flying overhead :)

rocky ridge crossing

the drop

Keith waiting to abseil

abseil in action

It was pretty busy by the time we got to the chimney pitch, so we opted to climb what looked like a slightly harder variation to the left to bypass two teams. It seems the chimney can be quite loose. Keith received a brain sized block of snow ice to the helmet, and I would have been wiped out by a guides two clients kicking off loose rock if we had opted for the normal route!

Keith on the chimney pitch

Janey about to top out
enjoying the view at the 3rd and last summit of the route

Then came the interesting descent and it was time to rope up mountaineering style again….

As there are seracs that need to be avoided, you have to cut down a very steep slope. Today this slope consisted of rock solid ice with a dusting of snow/neve! This ice was so hard that there were minimal decent axe or crampon placements to be had.

I set off in front, and down came Keith, only to slip from 3 metres above me, shouting ‘Fuck! Sorry!’ on his way past, knowing that if I couldnt self arrest I was going with him! Luckily I managed to though, and Keith also managed to just as the rope came snug! A total slide of 13+ metres! Epic!

before!

after! (note the ice patches left and right of rope)

But not to worry, other than a few cuts and grazes to Keiths hands it is all good, and rather amusing in hindsight.

seracs

We got back to the midi station just after 3pm, the walk back being a long and tiring drag, just as the bad weather was coming in.

A cloud covered Aiguille du Midi

Awesome day out!

Janey and Keith

MTA