January 20th 2011

Aiguille Verte - Couturier Couloir and Happy House

Its been a pretty mad couple of weeks. Certain events have meant that I have barely left my flat since the New Year’s Eve shoot on the Aiguille Verte, but in the last few days I managed to get out into the hills which felt amazing. I’d forgotten how good alpinism can be for the soul sometimes.

Will and I had planned on climbing a route called Tentation on the Lachenal 4 days ago but due to technical difficulties the Aiguille du Midi cable car was shut so we hurried off to the Grand Montets to do a route called Happy House. Happy House is the last of the orignal lines but up by Bullock et al last year on the newly developed Rive Droite, so whilst the route was short and not too hard it was nice at least to have completed them all.

Will on Happy House

The next day we planned on heading up a route on the Verte but I had to cancel at 7am that morning so Will headed up and did the Couturier on his own. The following day I was itching to get out and hearing how many people had been tracking up the Verte in the last week I decided to also head up the Couturier with Ben O’Connor- having not done anything remotely cardio for 17 days I was keen just to get up the thing but to solo it in good company at the same time.

The Couturier was in great nick and arriving at the shrund there were already teams heading into Late To Say I’m Sorry and the Vivagel. Apart from the top 250m or so which is hard ice the couloir is perfect snow. A good mix of caffein and music and 1.54 hours later I was sitting at the top enjoying a perfect winter’s day and taking in the Aiguille Verte panorama. I felt exhausted after running up the last hard ice slopes trying to make it in under 2 hours but also really exhilarated and it’s revived my winter psyche to get on some really big things in the near future….fingers crossed.

Summit of the Aiguille Verte after a 1.54 hour romp. Grandes Jorasses in the background

Ben approaching the top of the Couturier, Grande Rocheuse in the distance

Ben approaching the summit of the Verte

Lots of teams have been on that side of the Verte with a good track into all the routes. The Vivgel and Late To Say I’m Sorry are still in amazing condition since I reported back on them just before Christmas. Plenty of teams have been on them so there are good tracks and belays down everything.

The Alpine Exposures coffee table photo book