Arnaldo Rocha ice climbing • January 24 - 27, 2012

Arnaldo Rocha mixed a bit of business and pleasure, traveling to Europe from his home in Brazil. He and Mark spent four days ice climbing in the Chamonix area.

Return to all recent trips


To warm up, and as an introduction, we started at the Cremerie, a local area of mostly moderate short routes quite close to Chamonix. For better or for worse, there is so much snow in the Chamonix Valley that all the low angled ice was simple covered. The best (and just about the only) bare ice was found on the steepest lines.


Here we are traversing in to the base of the steepest ice we could find.


The next day we drove over to Cogne, Italy. There we found better conditions with less snow. We had a fine day climbing the Cascade Lillaz, a local classic.


Here we have already climbed some five pitches and have another one and a half to go to finish.


Our third day was beautiful. Though the forecast was for cold we decided to try an alpine adventure. Riding the cable car up to the top of the Grands Montets we set out on snowshoe on the approach to the Petite Aiguille Verte.


Here is a view of the Petite Verte, with the rather larger Aiguille Verte behind.

Unfortunately our summit hopes were not to be. I (Mark) broke a crampon on the steep and very hard ice of the first real pitch of the climb. With no options for repair, we were forced to descend. Oh well.

Mouse over the photo to see the approach and the first pitch.


The crampon broke near the top of this pitch. Not to waste a bit of ice, Arnaldo came up after me for the one pitch of the day (remarkably challenging, as it turned out).


Though it looks flat and snowy it is actually about 50+ degrees in steepness with a dusting of snow over hard gray dirty water ice.


Retreating, we stopped for a bit of lunch on the edge of the ridge overlooking the Argentière Glacier.


Arnaldo taking the dramatic pose.


For our last day, we planned to return to Cogne to climb another classic line, the Lillaz Gully. This is a fun mixed route tucked back in a narrow slot.

Again, we had a bit of bad luck. There were simply too many climbers already in the gully and some were moving altogether too slowly. With few good passing options, we had to find another climb.


With time running short, we elected to return to some various pillars found in the amphitheater of the 4th pitch of the Cascade Lillaz. There area a number of good, stout and short lines in this area.


Arnaldo with the last 4 pitches of the Cascade Lillaz.