Directissima, Trident du Tacul

Sustained crack climbing after the easy intro pitch was the order of the day. A beautiful burly route on fantastic granite.

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Me on the 6b warm up pitch.

IMG_2087Gareth seconding the 6b warm up pitch

IMG_2091Gareth engaging the 6C P2

IMG_2100Burly laybacking approaching the belay

IMG_2101 2Bulgy with a gravelly mantel onto the belay ledge

IMG_2102 2My view as I weigh up the physical layback and foot smears that lie ahead


And the view down from the belay

IMG_2103Gareth arriving at the belay after the crux 7A pitch

IMG_2119A German team behind starting off on the crux


Pulling hard on finger locks here.


Wooden wedges on the final traverse pitch

Indurain, Trident du Tacul

Indurain for me is the best of the Trident route with varied climbing on splitter, flakes, laybacks and grooves. So good!


The Trident

0c390458-e87b-456d-b50b-230ae4cf96f1Me on the initial warm up 6b pitch with required a forceful approach with a toasted body from a hard days cragging the previous day.

IMG_2234Gareth on the diagonal crack


Grovelling around in the offwidthIMG_2236Spanning out to the layback flake

IMG_2246Burly moves onto the belay ledge

IMG_2254Gareth departing on what I though was one of the finest crack pitches in the massif. A fine 6C hand crack heading up right.

IMG_2265Gareth fully engaged in the hand crack

IMG_2271Nearly there, on the steeper bulge at the top

669aff0e-1f42-44f9-924b-2c0db1d71130Me on the groove 3rd pitch

fb7f4317-8167-41f4-83c7-923067e4e0c0Me on the crux 4th layback pitch

IMG_2272Looking down the layback pitch, Gareth’s white helmet just visible

bd1deff5-3380-4a20-b482-dc82b4de6c7fThe top 5+ pitch, a bit gravelly but the final 6th pitch is worth doing and takes you above Bonne Ethique’s ab line.


A wild, cold, windy day. My feet were numb. I forgot my gimp mask so my face froze. There were mega accumulations of wind blown snow. We didn’t see a soul all day. Thanks to Mika Merikanto for the day and the photos.Helbronner-3 Helbronner



Brenva Cirque

Tour Ronde SW

Skiing off Tour Ronde towards the Brenva Glacier. Thanks to Davide de Masi for the photo.

Was I Winning or Loosing Today?

Today I definitely did not feel I was winning. I woke up and wasn’t feeling it, I knew about a dozen people wanted to go to the same area, the question do I go, don’t I was running in my head. One of the routes we were talking about requires ropes and I couldn’t be bothered with any rope faff either with more than one other person so that made my choice of line easy, the South side of Tour Ronde from the summit. All was going well on the approach and we soon left the crowds behind but then the day started to go pair shaped for me. While I was at the bergshrund putting my crampons on, one of my skis that I had placed tail down into the snow suddenly slipped through the pow and took off down the glacier. I’m stilling getting used to rockered tails and should have embedded it deeper. We watched in vane hoping it might flip over but a 130-140 wide ski is pretty stable and it disappeared out of site leaving a trail in the pow. I said cheerio to De Masi and Miss Daily and headed off down the glacier on one skis thinking I’d be going back to helbronner to download minus a ski and binding. About a km down there was a 50 m wide crevasse with a snowbridge 30 m down and on it nothing else but my lost ski. A quick abseil off my other ski and I was back in the game with 2 skis! I just had to catch up with Davide and Liz who were climbing up the normal route on Tour Ronde and after an hour of hard work I joined them on the summit.

The start of the South West couloir was full of sharks and after moving about 50 cm my ski grabbed and high sided me. As I barrel rolled I knew there would only be one chance to arrest the fall before I was going too fast but as I came round onto my feet I found my binding had released at the rear and I glanced off the snow and flipped again. I just had time to think that it would hurt a lot ragging over the sharks teeth when I landed on my feet. Assessing the damage I found the spike of my axe had shredded my ski pants down one thigh. Then I felt a bit of pain in my knee and inspecting through the gash in my pants I found a cut right on the soft tissue between femur and tibia, somehow my axe or the rock had glanced off rather than imbedding into the joint. Lucky. Liz and Dave hadn’t seen my flip and were some way below so it was time to get going and catch up (again). After about 100 m of sharks teeth the couloir opens up and the snow was perfect to let rip. (short video below). The final twist to the day was to find the the pocket on my pants had been shredded and with it the car key lost. Thanks to Michelle for coming to Italy with the spare key. Win!

Tour Ronde SWTour Ronde SW-2-2 Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 19.24.01