Gabarrou-Albinoni (TD / III 4+, 500m)
We rose early, donned our snow shoes and descended towards the North-East face of Mont Blanc Du Tacul. We moved together over the lower half of Gabarrou-Albinoni and then swung leads on the steeper upper pitches. Conditions on the route were good. The ice was a little too thin in places for optimal screw protection but stepped-out and easy to climb. By the time we reached the penultimate pitch the route was becoming very busy as teams descending the route met other teams still on their way up. At one point there were two other teams sharing our hanging belay. I led off as one team pulled their abseil rope down, wrapping around my neck and leaving me with rope burn. With most of the teams still below us I found myself climbing like a hunted animal trying to keep ahead of the pack. I brought Mike up and then pushed on up the final pitch as quickly as I could. It's easy to see why this route is so popular though given the easy access, classic Alpine ice and easy descent. I've wanted to climb this route for many years and it didn't disappoint. A deserved beer awaited in Chamonix.
|Mike ascending the easy lower slopes|
|First of the steep pitches on Gabarrou-Albinoni|
|Mike leading the second steep pitch on Gabarrou-Albinoni|
|Mike descending the final pitch of Gabarrou-Albinoni|
|Mike descending the last of the steep ice|
|Views from the belay|