There is One good thing the cold is good for and that is growing ice!
Ice climbing is fun, really really terrifyingly fun. The trouble is I do little of it so I’m always a little rusty when i do get the chance to get back on it. There are a few super easy to access ice climbing areas locally. The Cremerie is the closest, about a 30 minute uphill stroll from Argentiere. Normally its a snowy approach but when we went it felt like autumn. Orange glowing pine needles on the floor in place of snow and an fresh autumnal smell in the air. Teaming up with Tom we spent an enjoyable morning climbing pretty good quality thick ice. We managed about 5 pitches. Probably we should have left the last for another day…..the temperature had gotten gradually warmer over the morning, Tom set off, climbed about 50m and made a belay. By the time I started climbing the ice had turned to mush, you could practically push in and pull out the screws….time to bail! We had had a good morning though!
Every year I notice some ice falls which form on the right hand bank of the Argentiere glacier, below Aiguille du Chardonnet but never get the time to go and look at them. I believe they are called Cascade du Passon. Skiing back from Aiguille du Argentiere the other day they were looking really good and fat.
The weather decided that it would turn, we were excited for some snow but all we got was cold and storm force winds. Nevertheless a keen team of Tom, Fay, Georgie and Jack were game for an adventure. The lift was closed due to the wind. Tom and Fay set off on foot while Georgie, Jack and myself skinned in. An hour later and we were standing below the 100m wall of ice. It was looking great. A few different lines stood out, nothing too hard, maybe WI5 in the middle and 3’s and 4’s each side. Jack, Georgie and myself picked a line to the right. I set off leading the first pitch. It swallowed all the long screws I threw at it. Super fat, amazing.
I was slow, still trying to remember how to ice climb. The others were cold. I made a belay and brought them both up, the wind was viscous, cold and cutting. Time to bail again! We were all content. It had the feeling of a proper mountain adventure. The ski back was fast and we soon were home drinking hot chocolate.