Grant Carnie climbing in the Mont Blanc Massif • August 19-27, 2007

Grant Carnie, originally from Canada, but now a resident of Denver, joined Mark for a bit more than a week of climbing in the peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif. Grant has done a considerable amount of climbing over the years, and it was fun for Mark to hear stories of his exploits in the Canadian Rockies, and other familiar but distant ranges.

Grant's arrival coincided with one of the several major storms to hit the Alps this summer. We managed to squeak in one great day on the Midi-Plan Traverse before the snows began to fall. But after a couple days of "weather" the skies cleared and we were able to complete some great climbs.

Other Recent Trips


The morning of our first day. The sun rises through threatening clouds and we start the Midi-Plan Traverse.


Grant works his way out to the rappel point on the way to the Aiguille du Plan. Because of the other recent storms of the season, the route was in exceptionally good condition. The steep slopes below are often quite icy and a bit tricky, but with the good snow, the track was in perfect condition.


Looking across at the final tower of the Aiguille du Plan.


Well, the next day the weather came in. But, as luck would have it, it arrived from the west and northwest, leaving the Val d'Aosta (just through the Mont Blanc tunnel in Italy) dry and warm.

A quick drive into Italy and we were climbing on Machaby, a 300 meter cliff of golden gneiss. Here Grant climbs Tika Saab, a 10-pitch route on fantastic rock.

Our timing was almost perfect. On the gentle walk off the back side we were just caught out in a torrential downpour, arriving at the car soaking wet.


After a day of pure rain (spent cruising the shops in Chamonix) the weather cleared magnificently. With the high country blanketed in a couple feet of new snow, options were limited. We did, however, enjoy a fun climb of the Cosmiques Arête.


With improving stability, the following day we ventured onto steeper terrain, the Goulotte Chèré, in this case. Here, Grant tops out on the 4th and final steep pitch of the route.


One of the great peaks on Grant's "tick list" was the Grandes Jorasses. With much new snow on the shady north sides of ridges, we opted for the normal route, which climbs from Italy and the Val Ferret. This view show the route to the cloud covered summit. The hut is just out of view to the left.


Arriving a the Bocallatte hut. Much to our surprise, we were the only climbers there. That's good news in general, but did mean we had to punch the track in the new snow ourselves, as nobody had been up the peak since the storm.


Sunset on the peaks to the south. The hazy high clouds prevented a good freeze and created quite a bit of work for us putting in the trail the following morning.


Almost at the summit of the Grandes Jorasses. Mont Blanc, with a lenticular cloud, behind.


On the descent, grant climbs down the snow-covered rocks just below the top.


Arriving back at the rocks of the Whymper Spur. On the way up we diagonalled up and right from this point passing between the rock on the left and the ice cliff on the right. Though relatively quick, it was long and tiring. You can make out our tracks in the snow. On the descent, we took the "normal" route, down the snowed-up rock on the right skyline and across the low-angled glacier.


The last rappel before the lower glacier.


For our last climb, we chose the Forbes Arête on the Aiguille du Chardonnet. The route climbs up the left side and descends the right. Classic Alpine mountaineering.


On the Forbes Arête, just after sunrise.


The last rock section about 30 meters below the summit.


Grant arrives on the summit. The Aiguille Verte floats in the clouds behind.

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