Dru / P.C.Portalet / Blatière&Combe Maudite


One week and a couple days passed since Picos de Europa and my eyes now drift scan the grass for the expected: Samu (cocooned in the sleeping bag) and two big packs laying against the ground. Buenos dias Bitxo!

Late afternoon, the 28th of July, the van gears down through Chamonix-Mont Blanc lower valley entrance at Sallanches with the usual arrival stunning views and fingers crossed to the atmosphere. Next morning I headed from the Gaillands to the city center with pain au chocolat, baguette and the bookstore in mind. As I cycled slalom Cham’s streets and turned the mobile on, the whatsapp popped a few messages. “Lets go to the Dru in the first weather window? (…) I already arrived (..) sleeping in the park where we were the last time”. The starting lines of our eighteen days séjour.

DruOne of the main ideas for the stay. Stable meteo arriving. We waited one day in Chamonix for Silvestre “Sílver” Barrientos to join us as he travelled alone from Catalonia. Hadn’t met him beforehand but Samu told me we would be a good team. Why not a party of three? It’s slower indeed, less pitches led but entertaining and safer on the alpine climbs. Calm vibes and common psyche to do the American Direct and summit via the North classic pitches. We packed light and shared loads in between us (Samu and I took bivy bags only, something we would come to regret!).

Petit Clocher du Portalet – We doubted, the weather seemed ok for two days and we would need at least three for one other plan… Excellent crack climbing awaiting, a new place to know on the Swiss side of the massif and good company (as we met with Simón Elías and Igor Irazusta).

Blatière & Combe Maudite – Silver got back to Spain. It rained for almost forty eight hours and progressively the grand bleu would install. We packed for four days, celebrated Helenita’s birthday – with a by now traditional tortilla evening, weissbier, some Häagen-Dazs to the occasion – and left early the next morning. One route in the Pilier Gris de Blatière, sleeping at the Lac Bleu; day two moving up to Aiguille du Midi, traversing the Vallée Blanche and pitching the tent in the glacier – relaxing reading and enjoying the place the rest of the afternoon. Next two journeys: Trident du Tacul and Grand Capucin.

first-night_dru

Late afternoon arrival to the place of our first night under the sky.

topo_american-direct

This is what we all three had in mind for some time then.

p17_american-direct

Samu starting pitch 20. No sun to be seen all day long as the clouds settled, moving with us along the West face of the Dru. Ph.S.Barrientos

diedro-90m_directa-americana

More top notch rock and crack climbing. The classic 90m dihedral of pitches 23/24 – lucky that I got to lead these ones. Ph. S.Barrientos

bivaque_directa-americana

Wake up call at the North face. Rockfall and wet climbing ahead.

nw-butress_american-direct

A brief incursion to the sunny NW shoulder of the Dru…Ph.S.Barrientos

north-face-pitch_american-direct

Back on track. Sílver – master of this type of terrains – taking us into the light. Ph.S.Ortega

birthday-gift_petit-dru

Nice birthday climbing in the company of these guys. Ph.S.Ortega

petit-dru_cume

Summit moment and sights on the surprise bivy – happy but second shivering night to be withstand. Ph.S.Barrientos

wildcountry-friend_charpoua

Time to enjoy the mythique refuge de la Charpoua.

turma_petit-clocher-du-portalet

New playground.

esprit-du-clocher_silver

Warm up climb on the Petit Clocher du Portalet: Esprit de Clocher / ED+, 240m.

virgin_summit

:::

glacier-dorny

Orny glacier.

etat-de-choc

État de Choc / ABO, 280m.

etat-de-choc_simon-elias

Símon and Igor negotiating the wide shapes of the route.

etat-de-choc_offwidth

Samu doing the same.

etat-de-choc_handcrackers

Sílver on another great rope length.

etat-de-choc_handcrack

:::

etat-de-choc_manos

:::

cabane-dorny_petit-clocher-du-portalet

Next day raining, time to leave.

pilier-gris_fidel-fiasco

Crisp temperature and not much visibility at Fidel Fiasco / ED, 350m, Pilier Gris de Blatière.

pilier-gris_fidel-fiasco_slab

Good friction though.

pilier-gris_fidel-fiasco_clearing

Clearing for seconds as we finished the route.

glacier-blatiere

:::

combe-maudite_spires

Next day afternoon at Combe Maudite: Trident du Tacul and Grand Capucin.

les-intouchables_a-lower-pitch

P2 of Les Intouchables / ABO, 250m.

les-intouchables_top-crack-pitch

The orgasmic overhanging crack pitch on the top of the route.

brenva

:::

trident-du-tacul_sommet

Trident du Tacul 3693m.

tent_combe-maudite

Final sprint on L’Echo des Alpages / ED+, 460m. The direct central line of Grand Capucin. We stayed short of three easy pitches from the top (a mix of a dead end, late schedule and granitic overdose!)

p1_lecho-des-alpages

Going towards the overhanging dihedrals.

p3_lecho-des-alpages

:::

dihedral_lecho-des-alpages

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midi-plan_sunrise

This time goodbye to the massif.

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