Pilier Rouge du Brouillard – Bonatti Oggioni - Free Solo
After having guided some Mt Blancs I felt like I had to do something for myself again. The red bible – Batoux's 100 finest routes is always a good inspiration if you want to amplify your „to do“ list.
Many people had told me about the great rock routes on the red pilar of the Brouillard and looking at the guidebook some weeks ago I saw that the Bonatti-Oggioni could be a interesing solo goal.
To access the pillar from the Val Veny you first have to go to the Monzino hut (2590m) and from there continue from to the Eccles bivouac (3850m). The climbing itself is about 400m long, mostly about V/V+ with one 6a pitch at the beginning. From the top of the pillar another 600m of climbing on poor rock along the Brouillard Ridge lead to the summit of the Mt Blanc.
As I came back from guiding the Mt Blanc on friday 12th I knew that it would be hard to find someone to do something interesting the next days, since most of my friends were guiding those days.
Anyway I felt a bit tired from the last days so I went sportclimbing the day after descending to Chamonix – but I knew the conditions in the mountains where very good and I didn't want to miss a good oportunity to realize one of my little projects.
|The Pilier Rouge seen from the Eccles|
Friday morning I finally decided that I wanted to climb the Bonatti Route so I packed my stuff, bought some food (and a new pair of boots :-), and took the bus to Courmayeur and from there to Val Veny. As the decision was quite spontanous, the timing was not perfect and so I started to walk up to the Monzino hut at about 18.10. I still felt quite tired from the last days and my relatively heavy backpack didn't reduce that feeling of heavyness in my legs. Anyway I reached the hut at about half past eight, early enough to enjoy a great dinner.
As I hadn't had time to go to print the topo I had all the route infos on my mobile phone... fortunately I had remembered to bring the charging cable....but unfortunately I forgot to turn the phone off before i went to bed.
When I got up at half past two I realized that the battery of my phone was completely empty, as it had been searching for a signal all night long and after 10 o'clock the generator had been turned off.
I already thought I would have to to drop my plan but unexpectedly I found an external battery charger in the kitchen – like manna from heaven.
I started at a quarter past four. The battery was amoust completely charged and my legs felt way fitter than the day before.
The approach to the Eccles bivouac is quite long but fortunately not so hard to find. Compared to last year the conditions of the glacier were way better and so I reached the bivouac after about 2,5 hours. The lower part of the Pilier Rouge was still in the shadow and so I took a short break at the bivouac.
Then I slowly started to descend towards the base of the route and climbed the first short and easy pitch to a ledge where I took off my boots and crampons and put on the climbing shoes. As I didn't want to free solo climb the 6a pitch with a nearly 10kg backpack I tied one end of my 60m kevlar to the backpack and the other to my harness. After having climbed this first pitch I lifted up the backpack, put the kevlar away and continued climbing.
The quality of the rock is excellent and the route follows a logical line of cracks, chimneys and dihedrals. After 2h15, at 10.45 I reached the top of the pillar.
|the quartz crack|
|the 6a pitch|
The Brouillard ridge is not very difficult but still requires some concentration as the rock quality is not the best. Due to the heat of the last days there was almost any snow left on the ridge.
It was almost two o'clock when I reached the summit of the Mt Blanc.
After another 3 hours of walking in the scorching heat I reached the Aiguille du Midi at about five o'clock.
Happy and grateful for another great and adventurous experience out in the mountains!