Thursday, April 9, 2009

Les Doites, Le Ginat Solo

The predicted storm front keeps getting pushed back in the weather forecast, so today was another nice day with good climbing conditions. I headed back up the North Face of Les Doites, for a solo of the Ginat route. When I spent a winter in Chamonix three years ago I thought a lot about soloing Le Ginat but never had the combination of confidence and good conditions - so it was nice to finally act on the idea. I caught the first bin up Les Grands Montets, crossed the bergshrund at 10:17am, and reached the top of the route at the Breche des Doites at 1:43pm, which felt like good time to me. However, I should have brought skis instead of a rope, as the descent couloir could be down-climbed very reasonably (I made three 30m raps just because I had the rope with me), and the descent to Montenvers without skis was very frustrating in the slushy snow. Fortunately, after a lot of "jogging" through the slush, and wading waist-deep through a glacial pond, I made the last train from Montenvers.

The North Face of Les Doites:

Looking up from mid-way up the central icefield:

At the top of the central icefield, about to start the real pitches:

Looking up the mixed pitch, which is currently quite easy:

Some ice higher up:

The last steep pitch, which I thought was the crux of the route, partly because it was steeper (vertical for maybe 3 meters), but mostly because the ice was more brittle:

Looking down from above the steep section:

Looking toward Mont Blanc from the Breche des Doites: