We had a classic mixed route all to ourselves today for a change. With a poor weather front imminent late in the day we were keen to get another route climbed prior. A local guide in the Refuge du Plan de l'Aiguille had recommended Frendo-Ravanel to us. Positioned close to the Grands Montets téléphérique station on Aiguille Carrée, it seemed an ideal choice of route for easy access and easy escape were the weather to change for the worse. And if the lift shut again then atleast we could walk down to the valley. We had spent last night on the floor of the Grands Montets téléphérique station, our sleep disturbed twice by prolonged machinery grating loudly in the room next to us.
The bergschrund of Frendo-Ravanel was a monster. I led up a steep step of ice into a small cove in the bergschrund where I trapped myself under a shallow roof. Placing a couple of screws for reassurance I stood with my knees bent and spine arched backwards in order to overcome the overhung terrain and force my axes high. The snow conditions were poor but my placements good enough for me to stand up straight. Weight immediately transferred from my feet to wrists as I quickly searched amongst the soft snow for stable axe placements in order to move higher and overcome the bergschrund. I trusted my axes with the best placements I could find, moved my feet up and scrambled onto the easier slopes above. A quick romp up 50 degree slopes and I was at a belay and it was Mike's turn.
|Sunrise over Aiguille du Chardonnet|
|Approaching Frendo-Ravanel in the Argentière Basin|
|Mike climbing towards the bergschrund|
|Mike beneath the bergschrund|
|Easy ground before the crux|
|Above the hard climbing - time to rap|
Mike abseiling down the crux pitch (slender ice on the right)