PYRENEES

Posted on: September 1, 2003


After two months of bad weather, the beginning of March brought exceptional conditions for ice and mixed climbing to both the French and Spanish sides of the Pyranees. Apart from the classic climbs that saw traffic as never before, many new routes and enchainments were achieved.

On March 8 Guillaume Delaye, Pierre Labbre, BenoĆ®t Monfort, Josselin Perrugault and Magali and Fradric Salles climbed the very entertaining Voie des Toys (ED-: M5 90°, 600m) on Puerto Rico Peak in the PeƱa Telera Massif on the Spanish side of the Pyranees. In the Cirque de Gavarnie, the enchainment of the three tiers (1300 meters total relief, with 750 meters of climbing) was realized three times during the winter, the first by Spanish climbers Dani Ascaso and Jordi Corominas, who linked Fluide Glacial (IV WI5-), Mitoligico (IV WI4) and Alos (V 5.8 A3 WI5) in January with two bivouacs. It was the second ascent of Alos (Gabarrou-Latorre, 1994).

The second enchainment was made by Spanish climbers Oscar Cacho and Chiro Sanchez in February, who climbed Freezante (IV WI4), Zaphyre (IV WI4+) and Aloas, making two bivouacs as well.

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The third enchainment was realized on March 10 by French climbers Richard Dupont, Remy Laborde and Jarome Thiniares. Climbing very fast on harder routes, they started with Thanatos (V WI6-) in six hours, then climbed Mitologico (two hours) and Aloas (eight hours). From the bottom of the first climb to the top of AloĆÆs it took them eighteen hours. They made the round-trip (rappeling the descent) in twenty-three hours nonstop.

On March 13 Jarome Thiniares and Romain Wagner (France) climbed the north face of Vignemale (ED-, 800m) with 300 meters of new climbing. Starting in the classic Couloir de Gaube, of which they climbed 100 meters, they deviated and followed thin ice up to eighty-five degrees until linking with the Arete Intermediaire and the remainder of the classic route. It took them only eight hours to realize the ascent.

On March 17, Cyrille Dupouy, Christian Ravier, Vincent Sager and I made the first winter ascent (ED, 700m) of the Grande Cheminae on the Pic du Midi d’Ossau. This route, opened during the summer of 1967 by Jean and Pierre Ravier, Paul Bouchet, Bernard Grenier and Marcel Khan, is rated TD+ and had not been repeated due to its remote location and supposedly bad rock. We started the initial part of the face with the Santa Coloma Gully (V WI5 M5), which I opened in 1993. The ascent, made in a very light style, took us twenty-four hours on the face and thirty hours round-trip. We found the enchainment to be very difficult, with exposed, thin-ice sections up to eighty-five degrees, bad rock mixed with loose snow up to M6 and a difficult overhang of loose blocks rated A3.

On March 25 Jarome Thiniares, climbing solo, repeated the Dalinquant de l’Inutile (ED: A3 M5 90 degrees, 800m, Dandonneau-Ravier-Thivel, 1994) on the north face of Vignemale. This route was first climbed in twenty-three hours nonstop and had not been repeated due to insufficient ice. It took Jarome only twelve and a half hours to repeat; he self-belayed only on the A3 pitch, free-soloing the rest. Coup de chapeau!

The day after, on March 26, Pierre Bogino and Romain Wagner repeated the route in twelve hours. Both parties confirmed the beauty and seriousness of the route. They found much better conditions than those we had encountered on the first ascent, with thicker and safer ice. The nature of the A3 pitch has changed due to three new bolts drilled on failed attempts to repeat the route.

Also on March 26, Damien Boitard, Nicolas Leulliez and Davy Nicolau wanted to climb the classic Grand Didre on the east face of the Spijeoles, but they started early, and, in the dark, climbed a new route by mistake: the Jean Pierre Laurent Memorium (ED-: A1 M6 80°, 350m). They found the climbing very interesting and sustained.

— Remi Thivel, Bielle, France

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