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powdherb

[TR] Les Grands Charmoz - Pilier Cordier 7/17/2010

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Trip: Les Grands Charmoz - Pilier Cordier

 

Date: 7/17/2010

 

Trip Report:

This weekend my friend Tom proposed to me to climb the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses. Knowing how much Compté and Reblochon I've eaten lately I knew it was a foul idea. Tom insisted, so I told him that if really wanted to epic with me, we could do it elsewhere. Because Tom only climbs routes with 'Grands' or 'Grandes' in the name, we decided to climb the epic classic Pilier Cordier on the Grands Charmoz, one of the largest and most beautiful of Chamonix's Aiguilles.

 

We planned on about 30-45 min a pitch for 20-24 pitches. This seemed logical.

 

We set up midday thursday for the Plan above chamonix and set our bivy. After some afternoon cragging, we returned to find our bivy inundated by the afternoon snow melt. Sweet. We set the alarm for 4am the next morning and headed up the Nantillion Glacier in our tennis shoes and ski poles after eating some chili-con-carne/Ratatouille (highly recommended).

 

Tom decided to spice things up so he left the topo in a crevasse somewhere. We had only this mental image:

 

7-aiguille_Grands_Charmoz.gif

 

View of the Grepon and Plan from camp.

P1040882.jpg

 

Charmoz as seen from camp, the peak on the left.

P1040886.jpg

 

Beautiful Chamonix Granite. View towards the Peigne and Midi.

P1040887.jpg

 

West towards lake Leman.

 

P1040890.jpg

 

Midi + Mont Blanc

P1040901.jpg

 

 

P1040888.jpg

 

Anyway back to climbing:

 

Tom leading some easy but nice slab traverse.

P1040905.jpg

 

Tom seconding after an easy crack system that reminded me of Diedre at Squamish.

P1040909.jpg

 

Tom on a wicked corner.

P1040917.jpg

 

The one pitch we could simul climb consisted of easy but somewhat loose rock before transitioning onto the upper headwall.

 

P1040918.jpg

 

The granite on the upper head wall was immaculate. Incredible featured faces leading to finger crack traverses, overhanging corners and hand cracks.

 

P1040919.jpg

 

Golden alpine granite, split by a moderate off-width (5.9+ish)

P1040920.jpg

 

Tom at the top-out right before the weather started to go tres mauvais.

P1040924.jpg

 

Tom executing an epic summit dump.

P1040929.jpg

Looking down the North face to the Mer de Glace, some 3500 feet below.

 

P1040930.jpg

 

The view towards the Grepon.

P1040931.jpg

 

Wow time flies when you're having fun...it was 6pm or so when we topped out. No problem, just a few (18) rappels to get down.

 

Just as we began our first rappel a massive storm arrived bringing torrential rain, thick fog, sleet, snow, and hail to our already hasty descent. As my fingers froze, I foolishy fumbled my belay device into the abyss. Relying on a Munter abseil the route, I nicely mangled Tom's new ropes and twisted them up into tangle after tangle. Freezing and less-than-stoked we made our long, long, long descent to our bivy in 8 hours in the complete dark. Who said alpine climbing had to be fun?

 

After we finally reached the glacier, we had a nice glissade session in our tennis shoes on white glacier ice and witnessed/heard some large rock falls onto the Natillion Glacier. Reassuring.

 

Exhausted, shivering, and starving, we were excited to return to our soaked sleeping bags and try and make our way back to Chamonix which involved 2-3 hours of downhill trail, and about 4k vertical feet. We decided to bivy at the camp because it would be light in less than 3 hours. In my sleeping bag I placed a space blanket which did slightly less than nothing to keep me warm.

 

Other than that, things are going great. Today we ate combined 100,000 calories in pastries and I had Tom power wash me in his backyard because I needed more punishment. I think I'm going to spend the next few days eating bananas and sitting by the pool. Applying sunscreen. Lots of it.

 

Gear Notes:

Carbs. Lots.

 

Approach Notes:

Tennis shoes. Ski poles.

Edited by powdherb

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really awesome report/photo-essay. that granite looks stellar.

have fun getting your carbs on!

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Sweet. Sounds like you would've been hating life just as much hunkered down on the summit in a storm as muntering through the elements.

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