Donnerstag, 8. September 2016

Mont Blanc du Tacul - Pilier Gervasutti - Free solo* - 23-08-2016

There are many guides that really just think about working and making as much money as possible. Probably I am doing something wrong, perhaps I am just living too much for the moment. Life is short and we usually don't know when and how it is going to end, so in my opinion spending all the time working is a waste of time. (well, someone else could say that I am wasting time because I am not making money – different points of view. I think happiness is not something you can simply buy). 

After having guided a Mont Blanc around the 20th I was motivated to climb some harder stuff for myself, but as this time I didn't plan anything in advance, it was impossible to find a climbing partner. So after two days of looking at the blue sky I decided that I should go and climb something alone. One route I had on my list of routes I could and wanted to solo was the Pilier Gervasutti. According to some narrations I heard the biggest problem of the Gervasutti was not get lost on the first part, while as in one guidebook they write that the Gervasutti is extremely exposed to rockfall in the upper part. Others told me that first pitch was the crux of the route and that most of the route was mainly safe from the point of view of the rockfall..
I knew that the only possibility to get an impression of the route was to go there and have a look myself. The route is mainly exposed to southeast and so it gets into the sun quite early in the morning. I knew it would be safer to start early on one side but first I don't like climbing with cold hands and I may sound repetitive but I don't really like bivouacs. 

The first cablecar started at about 7.00 but there were quite a few people waiting and so I managed to take the bin at about 7.20. At 7.50 i started to descend along the exposed ridge of the Aiguille du Midi and then I speeded up a little bit. After one hour I was standing underneath the first pitch. As the original entrance of the route is not doable anymore due to the glacier melting most of the people start climbing at the lowest point of the rock pillar following a steep and slippery looking crack. The gaping bergschrund didn't increase my motivation to climb up that pitch and so I opted for another variant that starts a little bit higher on the left. I crossed some big crevasses that were filled with big ice-blocks and got to a quite easy rock-ramp that led to a small ledge where I could take off my crampons and boots and put them into my backpack.
Climbing up I remembered a friend of mine who told me not to go too much to the right but take a crack/dihedral to the right of the corner. I don't know if I went the right way because at a certain point I stood underneath a quite short but difficult looking dihedral with a fix cam, a rock piton and a bolt. After trying to figure out if there wasn't any easier solution I decided to climb up the dihedral. As the climbing seemed quite delicate and to feel a little bit safer I decided to „belay“ myself with the daisy-chain clipping it first to the piton and then to the bolt. After that short section the climbing got easier again and I started to feel a bit more relaxed again. I stopped a few times to look at the description, take some pictures and to take off the climbing shoes for some minutes. 

Instead of doing a first aid pitch on the northern side of the pillar I took a variant on the left that was marked on the topo. The second aid pitch was not that hard, perhaps 6a and it was completely dry, so I free-climbed it. The mixed ramp on the northern side of the ridge was relatively dry and so I just followed on with my climbing shoes, now and the stepping into the snow and trying to avoid icy patches.

Before the last sharp rock ridge you have to climb up an easy mud-rock couloir with many loose blocks (This part could be quite dangerous if there are other climbers above you). Fortunately there wasn't anyone in the couloir so I passed this part quite quickly. From there the summit seemed very close and so it was.. 

the mixed ramp
I arrived at the top at 13.38, after a little bit less then 4 ½ hours of climbing.
Happy and saddisfied I descended the Tacul and got back to the Aiguille du Midi some minutes after three o'clock in the afternoon. 
looking back after the loose rock couloir

Material: 60m Kevlar (for emergency – not used), daisy chain, short kevlar, 2-3 karabiners and rappel device, 1 icescrew, 1 omega pacific cam – red, about 1l water, some muesli bars, helmet, crampons, 1 tecnical iceaxe, climbing shoes, chalkbag, suncream, sunglasses, gloves, jacket, primaloft vest.
Roundtrip: ca 7h 10'

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