Pattinaggio Artistico (WI3), Cogne

Our flight was not until 9pm so there was time for another route - provided no epics. It had snowed for much of yesterday and also during the night so it made extra sense to stay close to Lillaz under the circumstances. I thought I had seen climbers on the upper pitches of the 3 star WI4+ Sospiri Ibernati during our descent from E Tutto Relativo yesterday so I was keen to take a closer look.

There was another six inches of powder to contend with today. The trail up the hillside was still present and there was a hard crust beneath the fresh layer of snow to aid ascent. On closer inspection it became apparent that we had yesterday been looking at an icy couloir further right called Pattinaggio Artistico as the first pitch of Sospiri Ibernati was absent. The former route now seemed the best option for squeezing another climb in without drama. Pattinaggio Artistico Direct incidentally looked in top condition.

The absent first pitch of Sospiri Ibernati (WI4+)
Pattinaggio Artistico Direct (WI5+)
We wasted a lot of time trying to find the correct rising traverse to the start of Pattinaggio Artistico. We were obviously not the first people to make hard work for ourselves given the maze of paths in the snow. We initially made the mistake of climbing too close to the cliff, which brought us to a point that was too high up for descending to the route. We backtracked and then cut down to a lower path, which meant a lot of wading through fresh unstable snow interspersed with hidden rocks. Snow regularly slipped down the hillside whilst cutting a new trail. I carried my ice axe but it seemed of limited use for it had little to bite on in the event of needing to arrest.

The belays were difficult to locate due to the fresh snow but fortunately Anna uncovered some bolts close to the route that facilitated the down-climb into the couloir. I somehow then missed the first set on belay bolts on the right side of the couloir despite sweeping the rock clean in the immediate vicinity. I made ice screw belay higher up beneath the crux steepening.

It was a pleasant finale to the trip to see Anna lead the crux of the route. Arguably it was another hardest lead for her with the short icefall being around 80-85 degrees and probably harder than typical conditions. She made another ice screw belay higher up and looked exhausted upon joining her.

Below the crux step
The crux ice
I then led an easy 60m pitch up mostly snow slopes to a bolt belay on the left. Belaying was almost proving as hard work as climbing, particularly on the easy pitches where we could move fast, as my ropes were a frozen mess. Their time was at an end.

Easy snow slopes
After the recent snowfall the skies now clear and we presented with stunning views down the valley to Mont Blanc. Something we had been denied during our ascent of Lillaz Gulley.

Mont Blanc
Anna was by this point low on fuel and so happy to second the remaining pitches. We had lost time on the approach but the top was now in sight. Maybe one more pitch? The next section of ice looked possibly a little thin so I climbed a series of steps up the steepest ground in the centre of the icefall – partly for fun, partly to ensure good protection. Another ice screw belay.

The penultimate pitch
Despite another full 60m run-out the top was still a further pitch of climbing. A tired Anna joined me at the belay. This time I stuck to the easiest line in the name of efficiency and bore right up a weakness that finished at an icy step amongst the trees. A bolt belay greeted me near the top. It was 1.30pm - later than we would like to have finished but still an acceptable time.

We followed a trail North through the trees, which eventually dropped down to meet the slopes above E Tutto Relativo from where we picked up yesterday’s descent. It was 2.40pm by the time we were back in Lillaz. I reckoned we had 20 mins to play with so there was time for a hot chocolate and panini impressively filled with an inch of cheese.

The descent
Then it was time to head for the airport. Sadly my ropes were in a terrible state and so would not be making the return journey. They were a frozen and tatty and so were left in a hotel bin prior departure.


Popular posts from this blog

A Rough Guide to Climbing at Dover

Gone with the Weed (n6-), Hægefjell

Den Hvite Stripa (n6), Andersnatten