I think I have started nearly every one of my blogs while in Chamonix with something along the lines of “Its been raining again this week….” – last week was no exception. Fortunately, I found a new favorite rainy day/ bad weather activity: climbing in alpine boots on the Aiguilles Rouges. I haven’t done a whole lot of rock climbing in boots, so this was a good practice. It was a chance to to try different types of climbing (crack versus slab), and to hop on two different routes with two different sets of partners, all during foul weather.
Aiguille de L’Index: The South-East Arrete
My first outing into the Aiguille rouge was an easy one. The Aiguille Rouges are a sub-range/set of peaks, that line the NW side of the Chamonix Valley. Simon and I met at the McDonald’s in Chamonix-centre, where he picked me up. We made the 1130am lift to the top of the tele-cabine (tram), then took the chairlift to the Index cirque. Given that we got a relatively late start, and the weather seemed a little unstable (see photos and video), we aimed for the easiest route up there, the South-East arrete. This turned out to be a nice easy day on alpine rock. Like many approaches in Chamonix to classic climbs, we got off the chairlift, and walked for 15 minutes to the base of the route. Simon and I did the route in two simul-blocks, where I led the first and he the second. I showed him some of my favorite simul-ling tricks with a Gri Gri and a Ropeman, and we alternated between gloves and no-gloves on the wet rock. I pulled on gear and stepped in slings when it got to difficult; when in France…..
Aiguille de L’Index: the Parroux Route
The next day, I met up with two new partners to climb something slightly longer and harder, the Brunat-Parroux route on the same formation. Paul (Sweden) and Kyriakos (Cyprus) and I met a the base of the same lift I had taken the day before. We exchanged introductions, did some cursory gear checks, and hopped on the cable car. When we reached the top, the wind was howling, and a dusting of snow was covering our climb. By time we had completed the approach (5 minutes), we could see the snow was melting off as water and the rock was soaked. No turning back now though, we we’re committed and expecting something like this. Fortunately, these climbs dry very quickly in good winds and fairly warm temperatures, which we had.