Thursday, 28 April 2016

Long night on Midi-Plan ridge and a sunny afternoon in Foehnmauer

It is probably quite a general law of life that when you don’t take something seriously enough, it gets you. Frieder and I (re)learned it one more time after climbing Le Fil a Plomb on Rognon du plan.

Saule on a day we chose to be wiser

We took an early bin to the mid station of Midi and started approaching the route. Since we were on skis and I always fuss with them for some time, it took me a few hours to get my boots and bindings sorted. We also spent quite a bit more time just chatting, because surely we were going to get up Le Fil a Plomb quickly. By the time we got to the climb it was already afternoon and we realized the conditions weren’t great. A lot of loose snow slowed us down and the constant spindrift kept us growling.

We roped up for the first mixed part – and for a good reason. Soon enough Frieder peeled of and fell with his skis. He claims to still have landed as a cat. Let’s leave it at that.

I got to do the beautiful ice pitch, which required some gymnastics to start since there wasn’t much ice in the first few meters. Climbing was fun but since it was the first time I was climbing anything technical with skis on my back, I was slow.

 A few more fun pitches followed and soon we were in the exit gully. The problem was it was dark by now and neither of us had done the descent before. A storm picked up too. The first time I tried to get on the ridge, I got nearly blown off.

We were very unwilling to go down the route of ascent because of all the downclimbing that needed to be done on steep and insecure snow, so we pushed on the ridge. We’d hide on the leeside of the ridge and wait for the wind to subside a little bit. As soon as it calmed down even a little bit, we would go up on the ridge and quickly move on all-fours, before hiding again.

It was pretty grim and took us forever. At one point, we contemplated leaving our skis behind, since they were acting like sails in this wind. Finally, we reached a few rappels, after which we could downclimb into the basin. By that time, it was bright again and we skied down the Vallee Blanche, picking between the crevases. Since the visibility was poor, once we even got a little lost and ended up in a cul-de-sac. I even temporarily lost my ski in a crevase… But luck favors the stupid and I managed to get It out. Another hour later we were eating burgers in Chamonix and falling asleep mid-bite.

Skiing down with big dreams in the backdrop

When I got the opportunity to go outside two weeks later, the weather forecast promised pretty bad weather again. But having gotten wiser, this time Saule and I went to a sunny pocked of Foehnmauer next to Sargans, amidst all the rain that was washing down Switzerland.

We did get some wind and a few drops of rain on us but mainly we had a very pleasant climbing up a 7pitch limestone gem Megusta.

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