This was the second route that I completed in the Aiguille Rouges range in Chamonix. The first route, a day before was on the Aiguille L’Index, which you literally see as soon as you come off the Index cable car. However both routes command amazing panorama views across the Mont Blanc Range opposite.
We bivied out the night before not far from the top of the cable car, so in the early evening we had a few scathing looks from some, and looks of bewilderment from others. As well as this, some random Japanese tourists came over and took some selfies with us? Don’t know why? But hey! As usual in the Alps an early nights sleep is essential in getting up on time, although I was rudely awoken by a sheep ringing his bell like a town crier at sun set, however this curse was quickly turned into a blessing when I got up to see the sun setting, throwing a blaze of orange across sky over the Mont Blanc Range! The pictures don’t do it justice, I promise.
In the morning after a quick breakfast, mike and me set out on the trail to Col des Crochues to climb Pointe Gaspard. We knew the walk in was not massive from the guidebook, but it was a small mission in route finding that involved crossing some patches of snow and ice in my very worn down trainers, this may have been better in clogs?? We found the route and started up the first few pitches, which were relatively easy, with scattered bolts and full anchors. Although we were glad that we brought a small rack with us, as we knew there was harder ground to cover above. Mike then led a very simple pitch that was ultimately a small scramble/walk in the middle of the route. The next lead was mine. Up to this point the sun had been shining on us, however a whole belt of cloud decided to engulf the face and race upwards from the hills below in a race to flow up the rock and over the summit. This continued on and off the rest of the accent and certainly gave another element to the climb.
This next lead was a bit more serious than the lower parts of the climb, but still within my grade, the rock was solid and gave confidence. This route was still slabby, however towards the end of the pitch the ground steepened until it reached a belay position under a steeper section of wall. Luckily it was now Mikes turn to lead, and this pitch looked as though it would lead around a mild arête and onto a face with some clear exposure below! Mike started well and began to make the start of the crux move before backing out, after a few back and fourth’s he eventually fell and actually took a bit a swing to the rocks beside us, he hit his leg and although it nothing was too serious he felt he did not want to try again so we swapped over lead at the belay.
So, my turn to lead, and after watching mike I was not looking forward to it. Still, I find that sometimes when you know it’s a hard climb/pitch you seem to psyche yourself up and really get in the right mind frame. I felt good and calm on approach and started to pull around the crux of the climb, steadily gaining height, finding the holds and the moves, also happily clipping the generous amount of bolts compared to the rest of the route. It felt good to be climbing well and overcoming what was to be the hardest part of the route. Following this, the route eased and we scrambled our way to the summit, for an amazing view across the other side of the range and the spindrift effect of the wind on the other side!
After the obligatory summit photos we headed down the face on a scramble route to rejoin the main path that we originally approached by. This was somewhat loose in places and was a little reminiscent of the scree often found in the mountains. It had been a few hours in all, but after a quick chat and snack with Colin at our bivi, we set off down to the valley on the cable car for a well deserved beer and pizza.
All in all, this was a fantastic route with solid sharp rock, and turned out to be the end of the climbing this year in the Alps, so was a fantastic route and summit to end the trip on a high, 2741m high to be precise!