Acclimatization – Via Sallurd and Grand Jorasse Traverse

Alpine climbing season was full on, friends did a few good routes in Mont Blanc range, it was good motivational factor to move my ass.

We’ve had some plans with Arne that required proper acclimatization, and in particular as I remember how shite I felt approaching Longs Peak a few weeks prior. We agreed to go to Torino on Wed (01.08), spend Thu climbing something easy in Valle Blanche and then doing either Devil’s Ridge or Grand Jorasse Traverse.

On Thu we did Via Salluard on Pointe Adolphe Rey (6a), an easy approach, easy but pleasant climb – quite good. While rappelling we met two friends from Krakow. It was quite fun to chat with Cezary, who I have not seen for a year or so, on a belay in the middle of nowhere :-). Once at the base, before we went back to the hut Arne accidentally dropped his ice axe to the bergshrung – sigh, doing something high up without an ice axe would be simply stupid. Fortunately it was early enough that we managed to run to the hut for Arne to take a cable car down run to the car where I brought his technical ice tools, grab one and catch the last cable car up. Not cheap option but workable – the weekend was saved. (Strava to and back Adolphe Rey)

Forecast was promising hence we decided to do a two day outing. On the day one we left the Torino hut and did the Rochefort Ridge up to the Bivacco Eltore Canzio (3810m). A relatively easy day made interesting by (a) Arne leaving a set of cams in Torino (b) A Korean climber in front of us falling with a rock and being hit by another one.

(a) Arne while packing forgot to put back set of cams into his backpack. Hence we were left with 8 draws and around 10 nuts… bummer, but we figure that we can actually deal with it. We managed to buy green and yellow cam out of one party that was going back from the Rochefort to Torino and borrowed another three (gray, red and blue) from a friendly Italian guide that was going down from Canzio with a client and didn’t need them any more. Saved. They were really useful, we would manage without but it would be much slower.

(b) Going down from Callotte de Rochefort to Canzio requires 3-4 rappels. We caught up with slower Korean party but didn’t manage to overtake them – it was a bit of a race, since Canzio has only 8 places, we wanted to have beds there. Koreans took an old – wrong – rappel anchors… and we followed them. After the last rap they started descending via a quite unstable rocky couloir. While we were still executing the last rap, one of them dislocated a stone and fall with it causing a large rock fall in the couloir and got hit by another large stone. There were two another parties behind us and a few people starting from Canzio towards Pointe Young, we were all terrified. The guy started to move though, that was a good sign. We (in particular a French guide next to us) called rescue and we spend more or less 1h30min hanging on the belay (we traversed to the proper rap stations in the meantime) looking at the situation and the rescue. (day 1 strava)

We spend the rest of the day eating and resting.

On a second day we started early, at first daylight we were already climbing. Climbing is easy, but you do it in mountaineering boots, so it’s interesting at times. We were doing blocks for around 4 pitches each up to Pointe Young, actually to Pointe Margarite were we packed away one rope and started simul climbing on the other one. Guidebook says that “from here the ridge is technically quite straightforward but exposed and loose in places”. Well it is. It is also a knife sharp in places and really exposed, or I’m just not used to such terrain. There was no single hard move, or a move that I would be afraid of, but the entire experience was frightening, really cool, but frightening.

Gradually towards Pointe Croz the terrain was easier and I was more calm.

When we got to Whymper another party caught up with us – they started from Torino – OK, we are slow, that is alright we were there to acclimatize not to beat a speed record. On Walker we met another party – they started the same day from Courmayer :O. WoW.(day 2 Starva)

There was still 5h of descent, though as happy as we were finishing the climb, we still needed a lot of concentration to get that do Rif Bocallete, we got to the hat still in the daylight. It was really good to see the descent, maybe one day I will do Walker.

(Walker descent Strava – watch out the beginning is a bit off route)

(descent to the Valley Strava)


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