May 13th 2008

Aiguille des Pelerins -Carrington-Rouse (Rebuffat-Terray)

A classic in this area for good reason. This line follows some great ice filled corners and ramps that lead you all the way up the North Face of the Pelerins to the Col des Pelerins on successively hard ice and mixed pitches. It’s also a good way to get away from the crowds at the Midi and even though it is considered a ‘classic’ you wont find it too crowded. Unfortunately when we went up it was in very thin conditions and instead of encountering thin ice runnels we found powder snow covering very loose rock and no ice anywhere! As we didnt finish the route this may not be a very useful trip report but there are some descriptions and photos to give you a general idea.

Contrary to popular opinion this route is not that threatened by seracs. I’m not a major fan of seracs, especially hanging serac bands, so take it from me that you can access and climb this route without having to worry too much about them. Any serac fall will actually get funneled away to the side of the route and as long as you stick to the right hand side on the approach you cant be hit by them falling. Once on the route only the first pitch could theoretically be threatened by them falling but it would have to be a really massive collapse for that to happen- ie if on visual inspection there isnt a massive detached block waiting to fall then you should be fine.

Approaching the start of the route indicated in red. The start to Beyond Good and Evil can be seen on the right

The approach from the hut is about and hour and a half long. Once at the obvious snow slope which indicates the start of the route the first task is to cross the bergshrund which can be very wide and open. Once we had very delicately passed the bergshrund the thing collapsed in on itself so choose a good spot to cross. At the top of the first pitch there is a small 5c rockstep just before the belay. After this there is about 150m of snow slopes that you can climb together before hitting the first step.

Normally these two pitches should be filled in with a bit of ice providing a quick and easy way up them, afterall they are not that steep. However I spent more time pulling out huge blocks form the mountain and throwing them past the belayer on my lead than I did actually climbing up the thing. Hooks were very hard to find and we found ourselves scraping around in that muddy glacial moraine silt that had formed up in the cracks. Pro was pretty sparse and we bailed after completing these two pitches. Whilst it was great fun doing them, we realized that the main headwall ahead of us was even barer than the last two pitches we had just done and there was no chance we were going to get up it today. However here are some photos to give you an idea of it all.

The seracs and the route

A close up of the difficulties

On the first Pitch, photo © Gavin Pike

Gavin Pike Seconding the first pitch

Gavin Pike Seconding the first pitch

Gavin Pike enjoying the spindrift on the second pitch

Gavin Pike on the second pitch

Gavin Pike on the second pitch

Me seconding the second pitch, photo © Gavin Pike

The Alpine Exposures coffee table photo book