Good training on the Midi north side today. I headed up from first bin to climb the Col du Plan Gully. Following a week of unsettled weather there was no sign of any track on the route. This meant I certainly got the workout I was looking for. All good fun, in a type 2 sort of way.
Conditions were okay. The lower couloir was well filled in though hard work with the fresh snow. On reaching the end of the couloir I had two options, either climb the direct ice pitch or a mixed variation on the right. The ice pitch didn’t look too enticing, especially at the top where it looks like there’s a steep off-width to finish. Being on my own I was not overly psyched to give it a go and so decided to take the mixed variation. For some reason I had it in my head that the variation was real easy but it turned out to be a bit trickier than expected. There were a couple of moments where I found myself looking around wondering what on earth to do next. Fortunately after a bit of snow clearance I’d find a hook or crack that would enable me to move on upwards. The pitch gets given 4b on C2C, which is pretty useless info since no-one’s going to climb it in rock shoes. In the conditions I encountered (pretty dry, but a bit of ice) M4’s about right, though at times it felt harder with all the new snow obscuring placements (for the Brits out there, Mr Boscoe reckons IV 5).
After this mixed pitch the climbing eased off and it was just more snow wading to the top. Hard work but good training that will hopefully serve me well for bigger routes in the weeks ahead.
The ski down was also fun, in a type 3 sort of way. A combination of strong winds, shit light and awful snow meant it was a strong contender for my worst Midi run of the year. On the plus side, it seemed most of Chamonix had sensibly decided to hang around the valley. This meant I didn’t see a single other person on the entire ski down. It’s not often you can say that on a Saturday in April!