Le Pylone (WI4), Le Grave

Stewart and me started our a Grave trip with Le Pylone. I followed the easier left side of the icefall, which was steady enough with no pumpy moments. Temperatures were above freezing today but at least the consequent melt prevented the ice from being hooked-out. The venue was very busy due to a number of guides using the icefall for climbing tuition. French ethics were on full display with leaders clipping my ice screw runners and crossing their ropes over/under mine. Whilst belaying Stewart up the first pitch I was forced to put slack in the rope in order to allow a local guide to wriggle free of my ropes that he had unilaterally chosen to climb beneath. Stewart joined me at the bolted belay and then led up the top pitch. We abseiled back down with plenty of time remaining in the day for another route.

Climber tangled beneath my ropes
Stewart seconding the first pitch
After time waisted trying to find a relatively short route that was unoccupied we eventually settled for the Cascade de la Meije. This proved to be great fun as a succession of pools of water needed to be avoided in order to link up the ice. The second pool in particular offered some delicate climbing in order to traverse around its base. The true crux of the climb was saved for the steep ice at the start of the final pitch with the opposing rock wall offering some good mixed moves to complement.

Stewart above the first water pool
Stewart traversing the second water pool

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