Rock Climbing in the Chamonix Aiguilles

Summer weather has returned to the Alps which enabled Dave Searle and myself to go to Envers des Aiguilles for a couple of days. The approach has got a bit longer over the years with the level of the Mer de Glace constantly dropping and added ladders to descend and climb again on the glacial slabs. Its been a long time since I had been here in summer and I have to say that the Mer de Glace looks a bit sad all covered in rubble and disappearing fast through climate change. About 5 years ago I did some ice training on the fins of ice over on the Charpoura side and you can see in the photo below that all there is over there is piles of rubble. For the city dwellers out there its quite difficult to grasp the concept that the world is a warmer place since there isn’t any visual evidence. Here is the Alps the level and volume of ice is a direct indicator of the average annual temperature and its and every day reminder that things are changing. They are not only changing but it appears that the change is accelerating. Maybe its already too late for us, but why not ride a bike or walk to work just in case you can make a difference. The death of the glaciers fills me with a sense of loss and I feel sad that the future generations won’t be able to experience the mountains as we knew them.

On the approach to the Envers hut we slowly started to melt as the temperatures soared and quickly decided to go for a couple of the shorter routes rather than something like the 850 m ‘Soleil Rendevous Avec le Lune.’ After a quick look at my guide we set of up the classic 12 pitch ‘Bienvenue.’  A couple of pitches in and things were feel very familar but then they share the same start with Les Fleurs du Mal that I had climbed before. A few more pitches in and it dawned on me that I had climbed this route a decade ago but somehow not ticked it off in my guide book. It was unfamiliar enough though and the climbing good to still be as much fun second time round.

Dave had talked me into staying in the refuge because it was pretty cheap with an alpine club card and as it started to rain in the evening it seemed like a good idea. I normally don’t like huts and haven’t stayed in a European hut for years. They are cold, noisy and on several occasions I have had someone mistake my kit for theirs and disappear of into the mountains with it. And so it was with no surprise that when I got up my mountain boots had gone. Someone had mistaken my faded old size 44 Trangos for their relatively new size 45 Trangos. I can only imagine this person still lives with their mother who dresses them every morning. The sun was rising and with the peaks glowing I decided to go take some photos to let my frustration vent but my camera wasn’t cooperating and gave up the ghost. All that was left to do was make the 5 minute approach to Pyramid and get on it. The rock in this sector is much more sustained and the climbing just brilliant. I found it pretty hard too, but then granite crack climbing is always a fight.

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