The ‘Voie Rebuffat’ is a classic multi-pitch trad route on the south face of Aiguille du Midi. It’s a 6 pitch, 120m long granite paradise that’s easily accessible from the cable car. This would be the hardest climb for me to date.
After spending most of the summer sport climbing in the valley it was time to hit the big time. I’d been wanting to climb a ‘bigger’ route for a while but my lack of trad climbing experience was holding me back. As well as my general fear of placing protection and trusting it with my life.
There are two main categories of rock climbing, trad and sport. Trad climbing involves placing your own protection on the wall as opposed to sport climbing where the bolts are already placed. I’ve been sport climbing on and off since last summer but I never really developed a passion for it like I have for skiing. Climbing was always a fun thing to do with some friends at the crag. I didn’t have a burning desire to climb the world. But that’s gradually changed this summer as I’ve developed my skills and found a hunger to climb harder and higher. The feeling of overcoming my doubts and achieving something I didn’t think I could do is addictive. Now I’m thinking, how far can I take this climbing lark?
Pablo and I had been wanting to climb together all summer and finally we managed to free up some time to climb the ‘Voie Rebuffat’ route on Eperon des Cosmiques.
I know to many of my climber friends this route is a walk in the park but for me this was a big challenge for a few reasons. I’d climbed 6a+ single pitch sport climbs in the valley but I knew this would be a different challenge. Firstly, this climb is 6 pitches so I knew I’d probably get tired. Secondly we’d be climbing with a backpack as we’d need boots, crampons and ice axe to access the base of the route. And thirdly the environment is exposed. Being high up on a huge granite wall takes some getting used to. Then with all these factors you have to perform. But I have always liked pressure.
It’s here where I’d like to quote something I saw my friend Philippa write the other day about risk.
“I think it’s funny how people sometimes say life in Chamonix is so risky or even too risky… And sure, skiing, climbing, biking and doing sports in the mountains is not free of risk. But when people comment on the risks, all they see is the obvious risks like ” but you might fall and hurt yourself!” And yes, getting physically hurt is a risk. But how about the risks other people, who doesn’t live in the mountains are taking? Working so much that they are losing their quality of life because they never seem to have time to enjoy life and actually live. Stressing and worrying until they get burned out or have other health conditions. To me, that is what really seems like a risky life.”
Pablo led the way on the first pitch (5b). The second pitch is an easy traverse (4b) followed by a third pitch of 5b to reach the crux pitch. So far so good. It was amazing to be climbing on fantastic granite at 3600m altitude with no one else on the route.
The crux move is an overhang about a metre out overhead but a solid right foot hold makes it fairly straight forward.
Looking down we were now quite high and alpinists traversing the glacier below turned into little dots.
After the ‘crux’ comes a short 5b pitch and then a longer 40m 5c pitch which I found the most difficult but pulled through. We took a break and enjoyed the views.
Onwards after the 5c pitch onto an easy 5b before reaching top of the climb which meets the Cosmiques Arête. All in all it took as around 4hrs to make the round trip.
Back in the valley by 2pm and straight to South Bar to devour a delicious burger in the cool shade.
With the busy summer season coming to an end I can’t help but shift my thinking towards winter. I’m happy with how my climbing has progressed this summer and hope to squeeze in a few more routes before winter takes over and the skis come back out to play.
Thanks for the day Pablo!