Alpine Rock

On August 22, 2015 by Tim Neill
View from Brevent, Aig Rouge

View from Brevent, Aig Rouge

Over a couple of weeks through August a bit of free time allowed a bit of climbing time.

As the weather has been so hot through July, the sensible things to climb in the mountains were ridge routes or solid rock that didn’t rely on frost holding it together.

Cool in the shade on the Peigne....

Cool in the shade on the Peigne….

I climbed a couple of v good routes on the Brevent with Lou….Fin de Babylon and Poema Lou…both on great rock and generous with their grading.

In search of shade for a longer route with Ian we climbed the old classic Rebuffat on the upper NW face of the ¬†Peigne from the Plan de l’Aiguille…..really great cracks with one particularly fine splitter. It’s becoming quite a lot more popular due to its inclusion in the MB Supercracks guidebook.

Rebuffat splitter....

Rebuffat splitter….

Versant Satanique….a well recommended crack route on the Minaret above the Argentiere hut. With Aspirant guide Miles Perkins we managed it in a quick dash from Grandes Montets as a day trip…catching the lift from Lognan on the way back. This is a super area to base a few days perfect granite climbing either camping or based in the Argentiere hut….lots of sun and immaculate granite.

Mega cracks on Versant Satanique, Minaret....

Mega cracks on Versant Satanique, Minaret….

Intermittent rainy bi I behind the Cengalo and the Badile....

Intermittent rainy bivi behind the Cengalo and the Badile….

And finally an annual excursion somewhere with Nick and Keith….last year we ice climbed around the Mt Blanc range….this year we headed to Bregaglia to climb on the famous Badile.

We left Chamonix first thing and by early evening were bivied just above the Giannetti hut on the S side of the mountain…

By head torch we picked our way to the Cengalo col and descended some of the worst terrain ever to the foot of a very wet British Route on the Badile’s NE face….and so elected to try the People’s Direct just to its left. Our friend John McCune had sung its praises a couple of weeks before..

Crux pitch of People's Direct, Badile NE Face.....raining hard!

Crux pitch of People’s Direct, Badile NE Face…..raining hard!

The climbing got better after a fairly shaky start and gave a good tough fight towards the top as the grades ramped up to 7a+…..not helped by the fairly damp cracks and, by then, persistent rain. Luckily the jams and locks were very positive and took us to a fairly bleak summit and a slightly improvised version of the descent back to camp..

A rainy night was endured, but a sunny dawn dried us out before a return hike to the valley for Pizza etc.

One remaining day of good weather had us drive around to the North side of the mountain for a few hours sleep…then after a false start due to heavy rain we left the car at 2am and by dawn were stuck into the famous Cassin route on the same face as the day before.

Totally different in character to the previous route we enjoyed intricate route finding low down, perfect rock and really classic granite pitches up high. Definitely a route of the highest calibre!




In the chimneys at the top of the Cassin, Badile

In the chimneys at the top of the Cassin, Badile

We made our way back down the N ridge… took a couple of hours, contradicting all the guidebook advice….and after a drink at the Sasc Fura hut staggered back to the van by 6!

The Badile as seen from N of the best lines in the Alps

The Badile as seen from N Ridge…one of the best lines in the Alps

California Dreams....ironic!

California Dreams….ironic!

After this the weather didn’t allow anything too spectacular….we gave up after 6 pitches on the Envers Classic of California Dream due to constant drizzle/sleet and numb hands…one to go back for though.

We climbed on the tricky walls of Balme where the grades are the living end and finished with a super route on the Tours d’Areu…highly recommended limestone towers in the Aravis. After a numb fingered bungle of another line Nick and I climbed a Piola belter called Xcream Limit…go there…great place, awesome views, great wildlife and beautiful refuge just below the climbing.


XScream Limit......Tours d'Areu

XScream Limit……Tours d’Areu



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