Monday, June 30, 2008


Needing a huge rest and a bit of time away from the mountains, Dan, Owen and I headed to Milan for the last couple of days. Ash stayed and climbed the Chere Couloir with a new friend of ours, Glen from Norway. Milan was super cool but not the mega fashion and glamour capital of the world we were expecting, which is great for us because at the moment i dont think we could get further from fashionable and glamorous. Instead we had a good time wandering through the historical cultural type things. We went into the Duomo Cathedral during Mass and i lit a candle and touch the holy water which for some reason burned me horribly (just jokes...). We also saw Michaelangelo's painting of Madonna and Child and a heap of stuff by Leonardo da Vinci.

Back to the interesting stuff....

I am now in a cafe in Chamonix again and have to run off to catch a train up a glacier as Owen and I are about to try a route called the American Direct on a peak called the Dru. It should take us a few days and will be awsome!

A Successful Few Days

Since our time off Owen and I have had a very successful few days. We have climbed a classic rock spire called the Grand Capucin which is around 450m high and has up to grade 7a climbing but is more sustained around 6b/c. It was an incredible route and we got some great footage on the video camera. We then had a rest day and followed it up with a 16 hour super fast ascent of the Gervasutti Pillar (~800m) on Mont Blanc du Tacul. This was an awsome route with a variety of rock and mixed climbing which topped out onto snow ridges and an awsome summit at 4200m.

The Summit ridge:
A photo of our routes. The large rock pillar in the left of the photo is the Grand Capucin. The rocky ridge leading from bottom right directly to the summit is the Gervasutti Pillar.
A photo of me on the Glacier before climbing Aguille Vert.I must mention Dan and Ash who unfortunately didnt get much done in the mountains as Ash got a bit sick after Mont Blanc. They did go up and have a crack at the Tour Ronde peak but got turned around due to bad conditions.

The Small Cold Bivvy Ledge

I am somewhere in the yellow bag

Sunday, June 22, 2008

After our first day the weather turned bad so we spent a day at a local cliff next to the town of Balme. It had awsome multipitch limestone routes in the clouds.

Since so much snow had fallen and the weather was only slowly getting better we the left to Ceuse for a couple of days which has amazing sport climbs on perfect pocketed limestone. The grades are quite stiff and some of the climbs can be very hard to onsight as it is hard to find all the good holds in the pocketed rock.
Me on a 7a+ in Ceuse:

We have since returned to Chamonix and had our first multiday climb. Ash and Dan summited Mont Blanc via the standard route over two days and Owen and I had a bit of an epic trying to climb the north face of the Aquille Vert. The approach we assumed was 2 hours based on no information whatsoever ended up taking 6 hours and the wall we had to climb for the first half of the route was quite long. So we ended up bivvying only a pitch from the top of the rock on a tiny snow covered ledge which was a few meters long and about 50cm wide. We took the entire next day bailing off the route in which we could only do 30m rappels since we managed to drop a rock exactly half way through our rope and sever it. Luckily we found a stuck double rope on the way down which we cut up and used for slings which we placed around horns to rappel off.
Ash and Dan on the Mont Blanc summit:

So now we are all very tired and taking a couple of days off before heading up to the snow again.

Photos from the first day in the hills.

This photo shows the Arete de Cosmiques that we all climbed from left to right.
This is taken from the cable car towards the top of the Aguille de Midi (3800m) where we played for the day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The first day in the hills!

So we all went to Zermatt to climb the Matterhorn and found out that there is still alot of snow left from winter. Apparently the last few weeks have had very bad weather but it seems it is just starting to get good. We bailed from Switzerland and made our way to Chamonix (we will wait for snow to melt before heading back to the Matterhorn.) were things also arent in the best condition so we have to be a bit picky with which routes we can do. Yesterday was our first big day which was a success except for the vast number of Gumbies clogging up the classics. Alpine climbing is mega popular here and we had to tackle large amounts of ice falling on our heads and i even had an ice axe hit my helmet, and fall to oblivion, that was dropped by a punter 10m above me! Owen and I did two routes in the day, the Chere Couloir (a steep ice couloir with bolted anchors!) and the Arete de Cosmiques, while Ash and Dan went for a walk on the glacier and also did the Arete de Cosmiques. We all finished the day with bad headaches as it was our first day straight up to ~3800m from less than 1000m.
Will get some photos on here as soon as we get them off Dans camera. We have bad weather for a couple of days then a long period of good weather when Owen and i are planning our first multiday route.
Ill keep you posted.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So here we finally are. Ash, Dan, Owen and I have made it to Paris which has to be one of the most awsome cities i have ever been to. It is incredibly densely populated with shops everywhere on the ground floors and four to six floors of shoe box apartments above. Things are quite expensive except for baked goods of which we have sampled alot! The most popular item so far has been the Pain Au Chocolat (Chocolate croissant).
After we arrived we picked up the car and underwent a crazy drive in peak hour traffic into Paris on the wrong side of the road. It took us ages just to find a parking spot (most people dont bother with cars within Paris.) which is meant to have a two hour limit costing 4 euro. Since the fine is 11 euro everyone just takes the fine and parks for as long as they like. There is an awsome automated biking system where you use a card to sign out a city bike, ride it to wherever and put the bike back in one of the many bike ports.
We spent yesterday after we arrived shopping for the final bits of gear we needed for the mountains and tasting all the food around the city. We met up with Ash's friend Jess who is from Perth but living in Paris and went out for a great French dinner. I had trout, Ash had raw minced cow (weird but good), and the others all had duck. For dessert we ordered a selection consisting of creme brulee, lemon meringue, chocolate mousse, a brownie type thing and a traditional yoghurt thingy. All was washed down with a red wine.
Afterwards we returned to Jess' which is a small top floor apartment. We climbed out the skylight and sat on the top of the steeply pitched roof looking out over Paris and at the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Today we have had more baked goods for breakfast and are about to head off to Switzerland and the village of Zermutt which is at the foot of the Matterhorn. The weather doesnt look that great so we may end up doing a few days of cragging. Dan and I have gone halves in a video camera so hopefully we can get some good footage and put together a funny video at the end of the trip.

Au Revoir
A Bientot

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Not Long Now!!!!!

So i thought i should do a pre-trip blog to describe what a crew of us from Western Australia are going to be up to for the next couple of months in Europe. The crew consists of Owen Davis, Ash Kirvan, Dan Lee and I. Ash is off saturday and the rest of us leave on tuesday (10th of June). We will meet up in Paris and hang out for a couple of days looking aound and grabbing a few bits of climbing gear we need. From there its on to the Matterhorn where Owen and I will attempt an easier ridge before hopefully having a go at the Schmidt Route on the north face. Hopefully in form we will then have a run at a route called Life is a Whistle (7c, 22 pitches) on the north face of The Eiger. Chamonix is next and we have a wish list longer than all our arms combined so well just have to see what routes are in good form when we get there.
A nice break and a cool experience will be attending a friends wedding on the coast of Italy (Santa Margherita) around the 20th of July. Afterwards we only have a short time before Owen and Dan head back to Oz so we will make a quick sojourn up to the Dolomites where i am psyched to have a bash at a long route called The Fish (12c) on the Marmolada.
After a long weekend up to Edinburgh to meet some friends i will be returning to France and spending the month of August at Ceuse sport climbing (All welcome!!!). I then leave from Rome on the 31st back to Perth, Australia.
So that about sums it up and i am sure things will change a bit. I'll be posting stories and photos hopefully after each leg of the trip. Stay tuned!