Dienstag, 16. September 2014

Solo Grandes Jorasses Northface - Polish Route + Traverse of the Grandes Jorasses + Rochefort Ridge : 1-day-action


The last weeks the conditions in the Mont Blanc area were excepionally good especially on the Grandes Jorasses northface. Unfortunately almost every day the routes were overcrowded with a countless amount of climbers, most of them climbing the Colton Mc Intyre... not ideal, but as the conditions are very rarely that good I thought I have to seize the moment.
After having returned from the last Chamonix trip I tried to find out if there was somebody I know that wanted to go to climb the Jorasses and so I finally decided to to ride along to Chamonix with two friends who wanted to climb the Slowenian Route on Pointe Croz on sunday or monday. As the refuge was booked out on saturday we decided to go there on sunday and climb on monday.
Originally I planned to solo climb the Slowenian route (and then climb on following the ridge to Aiguille de Rochefort and further to the Torino hut) but I changed my mind after talking to Christoph, a strong austrian iceclimber and alpinist who climbed the route the day before. He told me that there were some very delicate sections and that he would not recommend me to solo it. So I decided to rather climb the Polish combination (according to the guidebook 800m, WI5, M5+) , a route that starts on the left of the Slowenian route and ends on the left of Pointe Hélène. I knew that about two weeks ago the conditions were very good on the route and that on september 8th Korra Pesce did the first solo ascent of the route (http://www.planetmountain.com/News/shownews1.lasso?l=1&keyid=42100) (now it is about WI 4+, some sections with delicate ice and some mixed sections).
We started on sunday, took the Montenvers train at 2pm and hiked up to the Leschaux hut. Surprisingly there were only four other parties on the refuge. Like the last time breakfast was served from 00.00 to 01.30, but this time I decided to sleep a bit longer.
I started from the hut at 04.05. in contrast to the last time there weren't dozains of lights showing the right way and so I stupidly took a detour through some crevasses before I retrieved the tracks. At 6.45, with the first light, after having checked that I was in the right place I started climbing.
Mostly there were some tracks showing me the right way except for a few places where I didn't take the ideal line and two times I had to downclimb some sections to get on the right way again. The ice was mostly very good but especially on the steepest sections it required some attention because it seemed somehow fragile and perhaps a bit detoriated by the diurnal warming of the last days and the precedent repetitions. Also the direct exit at the very end seemed very precarious so I decided to exit on the left side. I topped out at about 09.50 and rested for about 20 minutes before starting the traverse in direction of the Canzio bivouac.
You often have to climb directly on the ridge (very exposed) or traverse underneath the ridgeline sometimes on mixed terrain. From the Pointe Marguerite you abseil a few times (4x25m), then climb up again to the Pointe Young and then abseil again to get to the Col des Jorasses. I reached the Col at 2 pm. I took a short break and started again. I knew there still was a quite difficult rock sections to get to the top of the Calotte de Rochefort. You can abseil it when you come from the other direction (the most classical way) but in this case you have to climb two quite exposed and not easy pitches. I belayed myself on the first pitch and basically aided the second one. It wasn't easy at as the less steep parts were still covered with snow. I probably lost 1 ½ hours on these two pitches... Then the dificulties diminish and get more classical, often very exposed snow ridges and easy mixed terrain - you always have to stay concentrated...especially after over 10 hours of climbing.
To the Dent du Geant it still is a long way to go even though it never seems that far away. Finally I got to the Torino hut at 20.45, about 16h40' after having started from the Leschaux hut.
It was very good experience, very intense and demanding. It just was something I thought I could do, a challenge, something I wanted to experience – sometimes there is no why :-). 

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