“Pull me up!” I yelled as I clung on with my fingers jammed in a narrow crack of slimy wet rock and my huge mountaineering boots failing to balance on a tiny ledge bearly visible. I was sliding and failing to remain attached to the rock face. ‘There’s a reason there’s only English climbers up here today’ I thought as it crossed my mind we hadn’t seen anyone else climbing all day.
Sliding on La Somone
It was more than disappointing when after only one day of Alpine climbing we ended up trapped in the valley by poor weather. Like good Brits who are used to torrential rain and getting soaked to the skin, we didn’t want a bit of rain to prevent us having a great holiday. So after a good soaking on the first wet day walking through the woodlands, we decided it wasn’t that wet really and headed out to Le Brevent to climb La Somone.
‘It will be like climbing in Wales’ we remarked as we got on the empty cable car. It was cold when we got off at the top of Le Brevent but not freezing so why not climb?!
I’m not sure how we decided La Somone was a great route to climb, or how we found it in the mist. I’m also not sure why we hadn’t decided to stay in the Valley to climb something slightly less slimy. The thought did cross my mind that it might be a bit ridiculous when it started to snow as I stood at the bottom of the route belaying my partner.
When it came for me to climb the third pitch – 4c – the ‘excellent flakes’ as described by the guidebook, were not really appealing for standing on in big mountaineering boots and especially not in the rain.
It wasn’t my finest hour wailing and sliding on the rock and ultimately requiring me to be hauled up. Perhaps I should have gone gear shopping in Chamonix?
Multipitch sport climbing on Vois Caline
After the slime fest the prospect of sport climbing in the valley sunshine the next day was very appealing. Especially since the route finished at a Buvette where we could get lunch.
Vois Caline is one of three long multi-pitch routes at Les Mottets crag and at 350m of 3c climbing it was a nice scrambly route compared to the day before and one I had no worries about doing in mountaineering boots.
Ok the grade was easy, but I was still impressed with myself for leading three of the 5 pitches (my first ever sport climbing leads!) including one horribly damp slab traverse. There’s plenty of bolts on this route and since its a low grade its easy to move together. I really enjoyed this route which was a massive contrast to the day before!
4 Replies to “Sport climbing in Chamonix – come rain or sunshine”
This looks amazing, always wanted to do this. Is it expensive to get into?
You do need kit – harness, helmet and shoes if you’re going to do normal rock climbing and not mountaineering! Oh and a rope and quick draws which can be expensive but then you can buy these between friends.
You do need a group of friends or a club to learn from though and if you’ve never climbed before it’s worth going to a beginners session at an indoor wall first. That’s how I started it año gives you the chance to work out if you’d like it before you spend money on kit.
Thanks for the info, really helpful! There’s a couple of us that all go rock climbing every month but we’ve never really looked at doing proper mountaineering. We’ll have to do some more research by the sounds of it! Thanks again!
If you’re competent rock climbers and do multipitch routes it’s not a massive leap to do mountaineering. The skills are much the same.
Most easy to access mountaineering routes are actually not technically that difficult compare to rock climbing on crags. The difficulties come from the length of the routes, Voie Caline for example was 350m and that’s not considered long for mountaineering.
This means that you need confidence to deal with issues if someone in the group gets stuck, how to self rescue, and route finding is much more important as you can often be alone mountaineering.
If you’re doing mountaineering routes which require glacier crossings to get there then that’s a whole other skills to learn – using crampons, crevasse rescue etc