September 12th 2011

Mont Maudit - Cretier Route

I’d never heard of the Cretier route on the Maudit until Ally kept badgering on about it. I still wasn’t convinced it actually existed until I checked the guide book. But nevertheless there it was, an old school ‘classic’ route in every sense of the word- sandbagged, objectively dangerous, and a good dosage of quality climbing thrown into the mix.

Bearing in mind it’s East facing you want to get up the thing as fast as possible before the sun gets too hot. Unfortunately it took us over two hours from the hut to the base of the route negotiating a series of hellish traverses around the shrunds that are pretty open for the moment. Nevertheless we arrived at the base just after sunrise and headed up the initial rock section. This is meant to go at 5c….but it’s pretty hard 5c!

Ally negotiating the last of the shrunds

Awesome sunrise!

Spicy rock on the first rock tower

After the first rock tower you arrive at the base of a much smaller second tower which you skirt on the right bringing you to the base of the main cruxes of ‘Dom’. Here we found ourselves in a ugly situation- the sun was now baking the steep walls in the Dom couloir above us and it was raining down big snow and rock avalanches. Protected for the moment by the second tower we werent too happy about our predicament. Apart from feeling very foolish for being in this situation in the first place there wasnt a huge amount that could be done so we crossed under Dam cowering from boulder to boulder as rocks and slides bounced overhead and around us. It really was that bad.

The second tower (on the left) and Dom ice fall above and left

From here on it’s meant to be pretty easy snow slopes and scrambling to the top. But thin snow cover meant we were pitching some pretty tenuous and run out mixed ground, with an engaging and very loose 65m pitch at the end. All pretty fun stuff and glad to be out of the fall line of anything peeling off the face!

Past Dom and getting stuck into some delicate mixed

More loose mixed towards the top

Lots more easy mixed and rock brings you up to the final snow slope and the long search for a way through the top cornice system- heading over far right seemed the best way for the moment.

Moody evening on the south face

Mont Blanc in the background..nearly there!

Descent of the Tacul at sunset

The Alpine Exposures coffee table photo book