Rob Maloney, three days in the Mont Blanc Massif • July 3 - 5, 2009

Rob made a quick trip from London to climb with Mark for three days in our local backyard. Our first day was a big one, with an ascent of the East Arête of the Pyramide du Tacul, a fine rock route a the foot of Mont Blanc du Tacul.

Other Recent Trips

As with many an adventure in the Mont Blanc Massif, our trip started off with a ride up the Aiguille du Midi cable car, followed by a descent of the east ridge of the Midi to the glacier below. On this morning, conditions and views were excellent. Here, we are looking east. The big peak on the left on the skyline is the Grand Combin. The Matterhorn is the point behind and on the Combin's right shoulder. And the broad group of summits in the far distance are the peaks of Monte Rosa.


The Pyramide du Tacul. The route gains the left skyline from the other side of the ridge.


Two climbers dwarfed by the North Face of the Tour Ronde, looming behind. The photo was taken from a couple pitches up the Pyramide.


Rob on one of the many fine pitches on the lower part of the route.


And on the summit.


Our original plan was to overnight at the Cosmiques hut, then tackle the Contamine-Grisolle route on the North Face Triangle of Mont Blanc du Tacul. But a poor night's sleep in the hut and some boot fitting issues that suggested minimizing front-point cramponning, made us reconsider. We elected to do the normal route op the Northwest Face of the Tacul instead.


But, even the NW Face was not to be. As we were approaching the face in the predawn darkness, we heard icefall on the left side of the face. After a brief discussion we decided that perhaps yet another objective might be a better choice. In the end, we had a fine climb up the "Arête à Laurence", so-named after a welcoming gardienne of the Cosmiques hut.

In this photo I have marked the Contamine-Grisolle route in green on the left and the Chere Couloir route in blue. Marked in red is the location where we suspect the noisy icefall came and went, and in green on the right, the normal NW Face route of the Tacul.


Sunrise from the Arête à Laurence, looking towards the summit of the Aiguille du Midi.


The morning sun lights up building cloud in Italy, south of the Gran Paradiso.


We stood for some time on the Arête à Laurence, watching the rising sun light up the peaks all around. The Dôme du Goûter wears a small lenticular cloud.


Looking southeast to the Grandes Jorasses and the Dent du Géant.


And north, to cloud over Geneva.


Climbers crossing the large flat expanse of the Col du Midi.


The Aiguille du Plan is the major peak in the foreground. Behind is the Aiguille Verte on the left and Les Droites on the right.


The climb back up the east ridge of the Aiguille du Midi. The Chamonix Valley lies below, still in darkness.


For our last day, we visited the rock-climbing-rich peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges on the north side of the Chamonix Valley, facing Mont Blanc. Access couldn't be easier with the lift system of the Flégère ski area.


Alpine eye candy.


Fraise des boâtchs on the Grand Floria is a fun 5-pitch route and the easiest in this sector. With a weather forecast calling for early afternoon thunderstorms, we thought it prudent to do a climb easy of retreat.


Rob enjoys one of the lower pitches.


Looking towards Mont Blanc and the Aiguille de l'Index, the latter of which Rob climbed with Kathy in 2008.


Higher on the climb, a short steep wall offers large, and positive holds.


The final moves of the last pitch.


Rappelling down to more comfortable shoes and an easy walk back to the lift.