Ludwigshohe (4341m)

July 11, 2011

With the goal to climb Mont-Blanc, we went to Italy for practice and acclimatization.

Day 1 we climbed using a 4×4 (felt like a true Expedition…) from Gressoney to Passo Salati and then there is a brand new lift to Punta Indren.
That’s where we really started walking (one hour) using the high track, up to the Refuge Citta Di Mantova owned by the Alpine Guides of Gressoney. Crampons were needed right away which was one of the interest of going there.

This place is amazing, really confortable. Night was not that good as sleeping directly at this altitude is a challenge, but globally we have been surprised not to feel any altitude sickness symptoms, except short breath.

Here is a 360 view taken by Nathalie (featuring myself :D) after arriving at Mantova Hut:

The map below show you our progress the next day:

We waked up at 4:15AM (breakfast starts at 4:30) and left right away. We climbed the glacier up to the summit of Ludwigshohe (4341m):

From there the views are amazing:

We then reached the “Christ des sommets” at the summit of Balmenhorn (4 167 m) which is an easy reach when going down from where we’ve been.

Then we went back to the refuge and continued down to the car. Unfortunately the weather was not good enough to climb Mont-Blanc while we were in France…but we’ll be back 😀

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Mount Washington

March 5, 2011

March 4 was my birthday. March 4 was also my first real challenge climbing a mountain, alpine style, during the winter.

Here is the description of the central gully route, copied from summitpost.org, an excellent site:
A very nice route for someone’s first “alpine” ascent. The slope is a sustained 40 to 50 degrees with a 50 degrees ice bulges near the end of the first pitch. Depending on the winter, this bulge might not be visible at all so don’t expect to be able to put anything in it. Also, around half way in the first pitch, you will encounter an avalanche run out zone from Pinnacle gully. Some large ice chunks can detach from Pinnacle and end up in Central, so be on the look out. Depending on the thaw, you can expect to encounter some loose rocks on the last pitch as well as running water under the thinner slab. Some climbers having climbed other gullies in the day sometime descend using the central gully, so be on the look out for humain triggered debris. Having successfully climbed Central, you can descend using the Lion’s Head trail via the Alpine Garden trail.

Mount Washington is well known for its tough conditions, especially for its strong wind. March 4 the wind was 80mph (130 km/h).

First let me thanks my partners for the pictures, all pictures are from them!

After various car problems, we’ve been delayed, and therefore started climbing during the night! I started too fast considering the heavy load on my back, but finally found my pace and got up to the cabin in a reasonable time.

A cabin? Hummm too late, no more space for us, so we ended up in a lean-to. I didn’t know what it was, but…discovered it. It’s basically a lots of people in a very small (and cold) space. Wind was blowing, the snow was getting in. As a special bonus the guy lying next to me was almost drunk, and tried to convince me (unsuccessfully) to share his bottle. I almost did not sleep 🙁

Our lean-to had 4 walls (luxury). I talked with some guys who had a 3 walls only lean-to and they had to dig the snow before getting in. One of them preferred to get back down the mountain and up the next day. Not really fun, but an interesting experience, I was there to learn!

At the bottom of the route, the team is getting ready to climb (put crampons, …)

On the left is our guide, on the right one of my partners in crime 😀

Starting the climb. The slope was not too steep, so no rope, just crampons

Getting steep and icy. The guide did open the route, and we followed, secured by the rope and some regular anchors. It was my first ice climbing experience, and I really liked it.

At the summit of the route. We did not get to the summit of the mountain (which is easy from there), because the wind was way too strong to go higher, and the timing was not good. That day I’m only aware of one team who reached the summit. They left very early and avoided the strong wind. Lucky them!

The team finally reached safely Harvard cabin for the last night. This cabin is amazing. Heated, very cool care taker. I even had a cake and a chocolate fondue for my birthday. What a difference with the lean-to !

All in one it was an amazing experience. Progressing with the rope, ice climbing, abseiling when going down, one night in a lean-to, one night in a comfortable cabin, there was a lots of diversity and a lots of learning.

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5.6

February 28, 2011

So I’m improving my climbing skills. I learned how to climb “en moulinette”, got my certification, and now climb around twice a week. I had a hard time making all the 5.5 of the gym, but finally did it. I succeeded my first 5.6, and currently work on my first 5.6 with a overhang.

Cool 😀

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Mountaineering training

January 10, 2011

So my quest to prepare Aconcagua started early this year. My ultimate goal would be to do the Aconcagua via the polish route. This means that I need to gain a lot more experience with roping, crampons, …

So I took a course with attitudemontagne.com. Well done, but it demonstrated to me that I was really not ready ! I have strong lack of knowledge in climbing, so I had to learn knots quickly, …

I strongly recommend this company for people interested in Mountaineering or ice climbing. They have an artificial ice tower which allow people to learn how to climb in total security. Really cool

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Aconcagua

December 8, 2010

Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas at 6,962 m (22,841 ft), and the highest mountain outside Asia. It is located in the Andes mountain range, in the Argentine province of Mendoza.

Aconcagua is the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres.

It is one of the Seven Summits.

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Coming back down is mandatory

December 5, 2010

“Getting to the summit is optional, coming back down is mandatory” (Le sommet est optionnel, revenir est obligatoire). Ed Viesturs, premier américain à avoir atteint les 14 sommets de plus de 8000 mètres sur la planète et ce, sans l’apport d’oxygène additionnel.

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