The Alps 2007 - Alpine Journal

The Alps 2007 - Alpine Journal

Area Notes Rowan Huntley Munkan from Djupfjorden - Afternoon Sunshine Chroma on board, 50cm x 75cm. (Alpine Club collection) First ascent of N ordre...

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Area Notes

Rowan Huntley Munkan from Djupfjorden - Afternoon Sunshine Chroma on board, 50cm x 75cm. (Alpine Club collection)

First ascent of N ordre Munkan, July 30 1903, W C Slingsby and party Presented to the Alpine Club art collection, 2004

LINDSAY GRIFFIN

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his selection of significant ascents and new routes progresses, more or less, from west to east across the Alps, and all events took place during 2007 unless otherwise stated. The following are thanked for their help with this report: Jon Bracey; Nick Bullock; Andrej Grmovsek; Montagnes magazine; Jon de Montjoye; Tony Penning; Guy Robertson; Hillary Sharp; Luca Signorelli; Thomas Tivadar, and Milia Valic.

From 27 December '06 to 7 April '07, the Slovenian guide, Milia Valic, climbed all 82 summits that make up the UIAA's official list of Alpine 4000m peaks. Valic, who was the first to attempt all these summits in winter, had the ambitious target of completing the list in 82 days, but due to bad weather he'd 'only' managed 74 by the end of the official winter season and needed another 20 days to finish the set. Valic's tactics were different to those of Martin Moran and Simon Jenkins, who made the first continuous traverse of what they considered to be all the 4000m peaks (the UIAA list did not exist at this time) during the summer of 1993, or Patrick Berhault and Philippe Magnin who, in the spring of 2004, attempted a continuous traverse of the full list until stopped by the fatal accident to Berhault. While both pairs linked the peaks under their own steam, working across the range, Valic used a van to wait out bad weather and drive to each venue, choosing peaks as weather and conditions dictated. At one point he went home to Ljubujana for almost a week. During his odyssey the Slovenian climbed with 15 different companions and made some committing winter traverses, such as the Dent du GeantRochefort-Grandes Jorasses ridge, the Diable Art~te and the SchreckhornLauteraarhorn crossing, all serious D or D+ outings in summer. There was also a three-day traverse of the entire Mischabel Group, and another from the Aiguilles Blanche over the Grand Pilier d'Angle to the Eccles huts, then up the Brouillard Ridge of Mont Blanc and down over the D6me de Gouter and Aiguille de Bionassay. Despite the mild winter at valley level, there was a lot of snow above 3000m and the weather in the mountains was far from mild. Strong winds made even the easier 4000m peaks a serious test and although the project was logistically and physically demanding, completing it was, according to Valic, much more of a mental and motivational challenge. Above right

169. The south (Italian) side of Mont Blanc de Courmayeur (476Sm). To the left of the summit fall-line the four Freney Pillars rise to the crest of the Brouillard Ridge (left skyline). Dropping from the summit and marking the right edge of the Freney Face is the upper Peuterey Ridge. (Antonio Giam) 274

Mont Blanc Massif On the remote Hidden Pillar of Freney, Mont Blanc, Christophe Dumarest and the evergreen Patrick Gabarrou added a second route to the right of the original line climbed in August 1963 by Tom Frost and John Harlin. Having left the Eccles bivouac huts early one morning in September, the two Frenchmen were bivouacking at the top of the pillar that same evening. Dumarest, who led the hard pitches of the new route, Jean-Chri (named after the late Jean-Christophe Lafaille), climbed free up to 7a+ and used aid on everything harder. He felt the route might go completely free at around 7c; no small problem when the difficulties lie at over 4400m. Next day, following Gabarrou's traditional ethics, the pair climbed up to the Brouillard Ridge and followed it to the summit of Mont Blanc through a vicious storm. In July, Francesca Marcelli, Tullio Paravicini, Luciano Ratti and Mario Sertori put up La Casa nella Roccia on the west face of Mont Noir de Peuterey (2938m). This is a partially bolted, seven-pitch (330m) rock route with generally reasonable difficulties (mainly 5 with a crux of 6a obl). The face stands immediately above the Noire hut (aka Rifugio Borelli-Pivano: 23l6m) and lies at the end of the Aiguille Noire's long east ridge. There is now a selection of single-pitch routes and a couple more longer Sertor~ offerings, Mondi Sospesi and Bella di Giomo, each about 250m. On the little-visited south-east face of Pointe 4361m - the south-west shoulder of Mont Maudit (4465m), Jon Bracey and Rich Marchant made a rare repeat (and in winter) of Nata di Pietra (Grassi/Rossi, October 1989: 700m: IV 15), the ephemeral goulotte that cuts through the large East Buttress. Prior to this Nick Bullock and Andy Houseman made a rare winter ascent of Gian Carlo Grassi's Overcouloir (Grassi/Margaira/Siri, 1986: 700m: TD+: IV IS). The steep icefall through the lower rock band wasn't

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properly formed, so the pair created a three-pitch variation to the right, which was described as 'quite Peruvianesque'. Around on the north-east face of Mont Maudit above Cirque Maudit, Bullock, this time with Lake District activist Steve Ashworth, made an early repeat of Fantasia per un Ghiacciatore (Gabarroul Gourdin/Passino, 1989: 400m: V I 5+ and 6a), finding difficult loose pitches in the upper section. The route takes the rectilinear goulotte between the left-hand and central pillars of the Three Gendarmes (c4050m). In August, talented Czech climbers Dusan Janak and Vasek Satava made the second free ascent of Voie Petit on the Grand Capucin. In 1997 Arnaud Petit sparsely bolted 12 pitches on the right side of the east face and eventually climbed every move free with a crux of 8a+ but wasn't able to link it all together without rests. In July 2005 Alex Huber made many attempts before finally achieving the one-day redpoint. He felt the overall grade to be 8b, making the Voie Petit one of the hardest 'high mountain' alpine rock routes in the world. On the popular east face of MOnt Blanc du Tacul above the Vallee Blanche, Nick Bullock and Kenton Cool made possibly the second complete ascent of Slave to the Rhythm (parkinITaylor, 1997: 450m: IV 16+). Although this route, left of the Piliers du Serac, appears to have received a number of 'ascents', parties have bailed from below the last pitch - an overhanging chockstone. The crux proved to be the entry pitch, though overcoming the chockstone provided an exciting moment when Bullock, laybacking off good torques, pulled a rather large block onto his lap. Cool was belayed directly below, but the block fortunately missed him in its subsequent flight. Also during the winter and this time right of the Gervasutti Pillar, Christophe Dumarest and Patrick Wagnon made possibly only the second overall ascent and first winter of D-Day (Darbellay/Gabarrou, June 2004, 800m IV IS). Over the next two days the two went on to climb the Roger Baxter lones route on the east face of Mont Maudit and the Boivin- Vallencant on the Grand Pilier d'Angle. Just before Xmas 2006 Jon Bracey and Nick Bullock put up Tentation on the north-east face of Pointe Lachenal (3613m). The pair spotted this unclimbed line - a prominent groove round the corner right of the an~te taken by the Contarnine - the previous day, while making an ascent of nearby Scotch on the Rocks. The 260m route was completed in darkness at IlI/6 or Scottish VII. A couple of days later the Scottish guide, N eil Brodie, a Chamonix resident, and Jean-Fran~oisMercier made the second ascent. The pair climbed a direct finish on the last pitch, which they found to be the crux of the climb and about one Scottish technical grade harder than the rest. With various partners Jean-Sebastien Knoertzer has been developing the mixed climbing potential on the 354lm Gros Rognon, a well-known rock formation in the Vallee Blanche. In the past a number of short mixed routes, which serve as excellent preparation for more remote and committing climbs elsewhere in the range, have been climbed on the south face, notably the

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Pas d'Agonie trilogy by Batoux and Robert. During the winter Knoertzer added Fanoudridou to the south face with Jean-Luc Cuisinier to give a fivepitch Il/3 MS, and 20,000 Vieux sous Memere(3S0m: 85° MS and 4+/Sa) on the north face with Jonathan Charlet, Arnaud Geldreich and Oliver Pujol. He returned about a month later to climb Erwin et Mimie: Amour cl gogo! (Ill I 4 M7), a more direct line just left of 20,000 Vieux. During this period he also went to look at the Petit Rognon and with Benoit Chanal and Julien Duverney-Guichard came away with Maudit Gras, une Verite qui Derange on the steep NNE face (2S0m: M6+). A number of interesting ascents took place on the prestigious east and north faces of the Grandes Jorasses. On the former, Julien Desecures and Paul Robach put up Marine Givree (7S0m: MS+ and Sc) in mid-March. This is basically a variant to the 1981 Boivin-Diafferia (7S0m: TD, Sc and AI) and according to the authors is now the easiest line on the face. The climb avoids all the hard free and aid climbing on the lower section of the 1981 route via ground to the right and is the first winter ascent of any route on the right side of the east face, apart, of course, from the classic Hirondelles Ridge. The latter, which because of its remote situation, length and commitment actually sees few ascents, was climbed on two consecutive days over the summer with a record 11 people on the second day. One of these, the guide Matteo Giglio, has proposed a modern grade of IV 6al Al M for the route (replacing the old D ID+). There are now eight pegs in the crux Fissure Rey. The only new ground climbed on the Walker Spur was an illogical variation finish to the classic Cassin route by Michal Burnard and Milan Maudic. Completed in August, the 260m variant, Right Hell, climbs the middle of three chimneys in the headwall above the upper snowfield of the Colton-MacIntyre. Above, it slants left through the last-named route to reach the chimney-corner system that rises to the summit ridge just right of Pointe Walker. Leaving the Cassin at a point just below the triangular snow patch, the two climbed 10 new pitches to the summit (between ISm and 40m), with difficulties up to UIAA VI+ and A2+. The rock was often poor, as was protection. In the autumn, interest centred on the Serge Gousseault route, which received three more ascents, most likely the ninth, 10th and 11 th, but more significantly, the first all-free ascent, by the British duo of Pete Bensen and Guy Robertson. The Scottish pair made three bivouacs on the face and overcame sustained difficulties of Scottish 5-7 with a free rock pitch of British E3 high on the headwall. The new grade for an all-free ascent is now more like l200m: ED3/4: M6 and 6b or 6c. Both this pair and Neil Brodie and Marc Challamel who climbed it next used the variation start inaugurated by Scottish climber Gordon Smith and American Tobin Sorenson in 1997 when they made the second overall and first summer ascent. This pair climbed what they felt was a more logical, and icier, line to the right of the original way and it was later incorporated into the first ascent of the

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Czechoslovak route, Rolling Stone. One day after the Brodie-Challamel ascent, three French repeated the route, this time using the original start. Both they and Brodie felt the rock difficulties to be more like 6b than 6c. In September Josep Maria Esquirol and Albert Salvado from Spain made the sixth overall ascent of the legendary 1964 Bonatti- Vaucher route on Pointe Whymper, climbing the route at ED3/4, M6, 90° and A2. It was repeated several days later by Bracey and Brodie, who made only one bivouac, climbed almost free throughout, but found thin ice, difficult mixed climbing and plenty of rotten rock. Several hard pitches were poorly protected The 1970 Polish route on the north face of Pointe Helene got a definite second ascent in September, when it was climbed in just 10 hours by Stephane Benoist (his 10th separate route on the north face) and Patrice Glairon-Rappaz. The general impression was that protection was difficult to find, retreat would not be easy and there was virtually no in-situ gear. A new grade of TD+ 85° and M5+ was proposed. This led to a spate of ascents in October, first from Sebastien Ibanez and Christophe Moulin, followed by Frans:ois Delas, Aurelie Levequ~, Benolt Montfort and Patrick Pessi. It was then the turn of Julien Desecures and Paul Robach and finally by Jerome Berton and Luc Jarry-Lacombe. The later parties assessed the difficulties as TD+ V/ 4+ 80° M5/M5+, the crux mixed section a 20m horizontal traverse. Tony Penning was back at work on the Italian side of the massif and his most important new route of the year was La Fiesta de los Monsters (11 pitches: TD+ but serious for the grade: British E3 5c obl or F6c) on the east face of the Aiguilles de Pra Sec (3549m), climbed with regular British partners, Gavin Cytlau, Nick Gillett and Ali Taylor. The route climbs to the left of the other three existing lines on this face (only one of which has ever been repeated) and has a very American, unprotected squeeze chimney as its crux. Access to this very rarely visited wall lies across the lower Pra Sec glacier and today the icefaIl at its snout makes this more or less impossible. Instead, the climbers made a monstrously circuitous traverse across ledge systems from well to the left, taking eight hours to reach the boulder-covered terrace below the start of the route. This traverse turned out to be almost as hard as the climb itself and probably scarier, traversing steep grassy slabs and several gullies. Gillett, Penning and Taylor next headed for the untouched west face of the Petites Aiguilles de Pra Sec (c2960m), where they put up the six-pitch Frand and Vale (350m: HVS). The route follows a prominent corner system to the right of the elegant spur descending from the most northerly and highest of the three towers. It was named after the two children of local guru, Luca Signorelli, who gave the British climbers the tip about this unclimbed line. Penning and Taylor added a sixth route to the north-east face of Pointe 3019m, a subsidiary summit of the Aiguille de l'Eveque above the Freboudze glacier. The 10-pitch Checkmate (500m: British E3 5c obligatory, F6c) takes a prominent series of chimneys left of all previous climbs (all done by

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Penning). The crux was sustained and strenuous, though the rest of the route was easier. The fourth and last route climbed in this region by the British team took place at the end of August, when Cytlau, Gillett, Penning and Taylor put up Sexy Beast (five pitches: British E3 5c, F6c) on what have been dubbed the Eveque Slabs, high on the east side of the Pra Sec basin, south of the approach to the Jachia Bivouac hut. The climb takes a big, left-facing corner splitting compact granite, and on pitch four Penning, leading the rope of four throughout, had to make an alarming hand traverse across a very steep wall to get back into the main corner system. Once there, he was confronted with six metres of almost vertical grass tufts that proved just about strong enough to climb up in order to regain clean rock and protection. A bold lead! On the Petites Jorasses, many hard winter routes were in excellent condition during the season, though once word got out they became quite popular and consequently, as more and more ice was knocked off, more difficult. Notably, Omega (Gabarrou/Latorre, 1994: 700m: WI 6, 6a and A3: all free at Scottish VIIl, 8 by Bullock and McAleese in 2005 during the third ascent) proved to have a solid ice runnel from top to bottom and saw dozens of ascents. The only new route was added by Gabarrou and Knoertzer, who climbed a narrow corner system up the buttress that lies between the Goulotte Duverney-Gabarrou (Duverney IGabarrou, 1981: 450m: TD, 11/4) and the north-west couloir of Pointe 3576m (Lambertl Perroux/Sanchez, 1981: 450m: TD 11/4). Named Goulotte Lilou (450m: eight pitches: IV 14, M6 and A2) after Knoertzer's young daughter, it is, remarkably, Gabarrou's 10th new route on the Petites Jorasses. On the South Face of the Rognon du Plan (360Im) Roberto Gomez (Bolivia), Andres Herrera (Ecuador) and the French guide Frans:ois Pallandre opened Los Caracoles (280m: sustained at 5c and 6a, 5c obl), an accessible, traditionally protected climb at a reasonable grade. On the Aiguille du Plan there were important repeats. Several parties climbed Bad Craziness, first put up over three freezing days in February 1986 by Chris Dale and PhiI Thornhill. The route climbs the couloir on the right flank of the classic Ryan-Lochmatter and the main difficulties occurred on mixed ground in the last 400m, where the granite was of good quality. Graded EDI/2 and Scottish V mixed at the time, a modern grade of VIM4 Al has been quoted, although it is not at all certain whether the route ever had a second ascent. Several parties repeated it free and in fast times during the 2007 winter, including Neil Brodie and Kenton Cool, who graded it V14. On the other side of the mountain, Thomas Faucheur and Didier Jourdain made a rare winter ascent of the largely forgotten Grand West Couloiron the west face of the Plan (3673m). First climbed in December 1975 by, inevitably, Patrick Gabarrou, with Jean-Marie Picard-Deyme, this thin chimney-gully system in the middle of the 700m face is seriously exposed to stonefall and fe.atures considerable quantities of either bare or icy rock. Current guidebooks offer a grade of ED 1 or 2, VIS, 6a and AllAl, though the route has

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seen very few ascents. The two French tackled the route in a modern style, using aid (Al/A2) on only two short sections and dry-tooling most of the rest up to M6. There was one section of pure rock, climbed at 5 and a small, though difficult, amount of ice (WI 5+). Above the first snowfield the chimney line was climbed in 10 pitches to reach the easier final snow ramps. They both felt the route was excellent and possibly destined to enjoy a new lease of life. In February a French team climbed the obvious ephemeral couloir on the flanks of the Aiguille de Grepon separating the ESE Spur of the Bec d'Oiseau (Griffin/Sutters, 1970: 650m: TD) and the South Pillar of the Aiguille de Rac (Cordier/Remouillet, 1974: 500m: TD). The initial section of the couloir, which lies left of the start of the classic Cordier Pillar, gave a 60m near-vertical pitch on a thinly iced slab. Above, Philippe Batoux, Mathieu Cortial and BenoH Robert, with Jeremy Ponson and Jean-Franc;ois Reffet, continued up the gully for nearly 500m (65 with a few steeper ice and mixed sections). Here the couloir divides: Ponson and Reffet chose the right branch, climbing it to the notcD. behind the Aiguille de Rac to create Eclaires ma Nuit (600m: 111/5+ M4), while Batoux, Cortial and Robert continued on the harder, more direct line to the south-west ridge of the Grepon to create fllumines mes Jours (650m: 11115+ M5+). On the nearby Pointe Elizabeth (c2850m) Alessandro Bonilla and Daniel Crospo added Moonlight Shadow (TD) to the South Face. The five-pitch route (220m) is fairly sustained at 5+/6a with a crux of 6a+, and is another useful addition to the many short routes at an accessible standard available from the Envers hut. Just before the end of 2006 Pete Benson and Guy Robertson climbed the previously virgin north face of Pointe 3650m on the frontier ridge connecting the Pointe du Domino (3648m) and the Aiguille du Triolet (3870m). The route was named Shining Wall (IV/5, Scottish 6) and it is amazing that no one appears to have made serious headway on this c600m face until February 2006, when Valery Babanov and Fabian Meyer retreated after climbing nine pitches. The Scottish pair reached the summit ridge and junction with the 1905 Fontaine-Ravanel- Tournier route but did not continue to the highest point. Several ice/mixed lines were established on the north-east face rock triangle of the Aiguille Verte, but with so many other routes on this wall, they appear to share similar if not common ground with existing climbs. Philippe Batoux and Gerald Durand climbed a 500m line at III/5+ and M7; the M7 crux a 30m diedre with a thin sliver of ice in the back (repeated later in the year by Kenton Cool and Ian Parnell). Later, Vincent Henry Amer, Nicolas Lochu and Bruno Roche added Camalot with difficulties of 11116, M6 and 6b+. Both lines are close to, or in parts common with, the 1981 Gabarrou- Vogler, a TD summer rock route with difficulties of 5/5+ in its IS pitches to the summit of the 600m triangle. 0

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On Pointe Farrar (Grands Montets ridge of the Verte) , Frederique Goujon and Thierry Renault put up the superb and varied Y'a pas photo (500m: III 4 M4+) on the north-east (Argentiere) face. A little later Renault returned with Abigail Crofts and climbed a more direct variant he named Hot and Cold (Il/4+ MS). These lines, immediately right of the classic and popular Claire Chazal, are yet more useful additions to the icelmixed routes easily accessible from the Grands Montets station. There were several interesting ascents of the north-west face of the Aiguille Sans Nom (3982m) but only one new route: Tifeen (950m:V 16 Al M8+) by Christophe Dumarest and Thomas Emonet. The new line lies to the left of the Gabarrou-Silvy Direttissima on the steep 350m lower rock buttress and in the upper section lies just to the right, climbing ground very close to the little-known and probably unrepeated Spanish route, Hielo Submarine (Aguado/de PabloslTapia, 1981: F5+ and 90°). Climbed in July, summer temperatures allowed the use of rock boots on the lower pitches and there were excellent sections of good granite. The Gabarrou-Silvy itself saw a second free ascent, when it was climbed by Slovenians Andrej Grmovsek and Marko Lukic. The first free ascent was made in 2006 by Aymeric Clouet and Christophe Dumarest at 6c and M9. The Slovenian pair found perfect climbing, good rock, good protection and a relatively modest level of difficulty in terms of sport mixed (WI 6 and M8). Left of the Col des Drus Couloir, Vincent Henry Amar and Nicolas Lochu climbed highly technical ground on their 500m new line Freedom (WI 6+, M8, 6b and AI). The route follows the classic Dru Couloir, traverses left to reach the left flank of the Col des Drus Couloir, then climbs icy streaks in a corner system through steep and rather compact granite walls on the north-west flank of the Pie Sans Nom. On the Petit Dru (3733m) Martial Dumas and Jean-Yves Fredericksen became the first to climb the right side of the West Face since the huge rock fall of June 2005. Their line, Les Papas, which largely follows the crest of the pillar formerly taken by the now destroyed 1955 Bonatti route, has around 29 pitches (the first seven on snow and a little mixed ground, the last five on the original Bonatti, and the remaining all new on the grey rock scar) with technical difficulties of 6b and A3 (only half a dozen pitches near the top of the wall were climbed free). The two Frenchmen started their ascent at the end of January and made four portaledge camps on the wall. Across the Chamonix valley on the ever-popular and seemingly stable south-facing walls of the Aiguilles Rouges a number of moderate new routes were created. On CIocher, Pointe 24I2m of the Clocher Chocheton, Yannick Brucka, Julien Cellier and Manu Meot climbed Label Virginie (250m: 5c, 5b obI). On the Aiguille de la Gliere, 10 minutes above the Index telepherique station, Ed and Rona Grindley with Mick Johnson added Modern Times (six pitches: 5b on the fourth pitch, the rest easier) between "M;anipuliti and Nez Rouge, while on the 2511m Central Summit of the Aiguille Pourrie (256lm) Traci MacNamara and Andy Parkin climbed

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the south-east ridge to the top of the second gendarme to create the l80m Baby Blue (6a +). Further east in the neighbouring Perrons group, guidebook author Jon de Montjoye and Hillary Sharp added A Bigger Bang (350m: 10 pitches: 7a, 6c obl) to the sunny south-east face of the Pain de Sucre (2646m), left of the 1989 Ravanel route, Squatteurs de Lune. Apart from these summer rock routes, there was also a winter addition to the SSW face of the 2965m Aiguille du Belvedere when Jean Sebastien Knoertzer and Sonia Popoff Knoertzer put up the ephemeral Emma Mousse (TD: thin ice to 90°) Valais Local guide Herve Barmasse made the first solo ascent of the South Face Direttissima (BD1) on the Matterhorn. This climb was put up in 1983 by Marco Barmasse, Herve's father, with Valter Cazzanelli and Vittorio de Thoni. Barmasse junior climbed the route on 16 April in just eight hours from a chalet at around 2900m. He did not use a backrope and was slowed on the low-angled section below the summit block by snow almost up to his waist. In September young Swiss guides Simon Anthamatten and Michael Lerjen set a speed record by climbing up and down the Hornli Ridge in a total time of just two hours and 33 minutes (Hornli hut to Hornli hut). Their ascent time was one hour and 40 minutes, while they descended the route in just 53 minutes. Phew! Bernese Oberland Robert Jasper, Bernd Rathmayr and Roger Schiili climbed a new route on the north face of the 3875m Fiescher Gabelhorn, They started up the 700m face to the left of the 1969Jung- Traschel route and more directly in the summit fall line, completing their line, Racletteconnection, in 12 pitches after climbing unroped up the initial 200m ice slope. Difficulties were mostly M5 with cruxes of M6. On the Eiger Hanspeter Hug and Roger Schali dispatched the 1938 route in a mere eight hours on 15 October, most likely the fastest time this route has ever been climbed by a roped pair. Back in February Ueli Steck had soloed the climb in just three hours and 54 minutes, taking almost one hour off the previous fastest time (set by Christoph Hainz). Steck would not be satisfied with this and returned in 2008 to record an even faster time. During the autumn Schali and Christoph Hainz climbed a new route Magic Mushroom on the right side of the north face. The route forces an exit on to the west ridge at approximately half height, just above a small but conspicuous, detached, mushroom-shaped pillar of rock. This curious formation is used by BASE Jumpers, so it will come as no surprise to find that the wall below the mushroom is extremely steep. The route lies left of Yeti on very compact rock and has obligatory moves of 7b and probable cruxes of 7c. However, it was not climbed without rests, making a redpoint ascent high on the agenda for Schali and Hainz in 2008. The 600m and 20 pitches of new climbing took six days to complete.

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Bregaglia-Masino From 26-31 December 2006 Fabio Valseschini made the first solo and second overall winter ascent of Via del Fratello on the ENE pillar of the Piz Badile (3308m). This seems likely to be the first time that the north-east face of this prestigious mountain has been soloed during the winter season (the claim of Dante Porta's solo of the Cassin in the early 1980s is now widely disputed). Valseschini made his sixth bivouac in the emergency shelter on the summit, after climbing the full spectrum of difficult rock, ice and mixed pitches (the c750m route has been climbed free at TD+ 6b). He was then lifted off by helicopter, sent by anxious friends. Just before the end of the winter season Andrea Barbieri and Luca Maspes made the first winter, and possibly only the third overall ascent of the 1976 Gugiatti route on the south-east face of the Pizzo Cengalo. The pair climbed the route in a round trip of 15 hours from the Gianetti hut, benefitting from conditions that were reportedly quite summer-like. The original route was graded V+/Vl and Al but the two Italians completed the 450m line at VlIwith a little mixed climbing, creating a three-pitch variant near the top. During the summer Germany residents, Gabor Berecz and Thomas Tivadar, added another line to the south-east face of Torre Darwin (2442m) at the entrance to the Cameraccio valley. Choosing a crack system left of the existing lines, they created Via del Invalidi (380m: eight pitches plus some scrambling: V 5.10 A4-) in siege style, returning to a good bivouac below the face each night. The crux pitch was comparable with El Capitan's Atlantic Ocean Wall but a little less serious than Zenyatta Mondatta. Just up the valley stands the Torrione Moai (aka Torre del Moai, c2700m), a curious granite tower named by its first ascensionists, Guerini and Frosi, in 1973, because of its similarity to Easter Island statues. On the 250m south-east face, Barbieri, Foglino, Ongaro, Panizza, Pavan, Sommaruga and Spennacchi became the first to breach the compelling headwall avoided by all previous routes. Religion Rebel (7c, 6c obl and AO) has 10 sustained pitches on compact slabs and superb, exposed cracks. The eighth pitch, high on the headwall , proved to be the technical crux but the climbers were unable to dispense with a single aid point on pitch three (6c+ and AO). In the autumn Benigno Baletti and Valerio Corti added another route to the steep and icy 450m triangular mixed buttress left of the central serac on the north face of Monte Disgrazia (3678m). This was Baletti's third new route on the buttress and reportedly his 18th on the mountain, The new line Combi lies between two of his own routes, The Ghost and Via degli Amici. It features a magnificent four-pitch goulotte at 75°, often no more than 40cm wide. The route, which was rated IV/4 and 5+/6a, terminates on the crest of the classic Corda Molla ridge at approximately 3450m. Dolomites Arguably the most significant Dolomite ascent of the year was Hansjorg Auer's free solo of the legendary Fish on the south face of the Marmolada.

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JOURNAL 2008

The 23-year-old Austrian student climbed all 33 pitches of this 900m route without a rope at 7b+ in just two hours and 55 minutes. Auer had climbed the route roped in 2004 but at that stage was unable to do it free. The ascent prompted Messner to remark, 'This is the biggest and boldest alpine achievement in recent years.' On the popular south face of the well-known Piz Ciavazes (2831m) Florian and Martin Riegler have climbed a new line up the pillar just left of the old Demetz-Gluck- Tuntino South Chimney (5.7) on the rarely visited upper tier above the Gamsband. El Negrito climbs close to the waterfall in the chimney, giving it an unusual ambience. It is 11 pitches long, the first being the crux at 7c, 7b obI. On the 3220m Civetta, Alessandro Bau and Alessandro Beber made the long-awaited second ascent of Nuvole Barocche, an amazing line up the wall to the right of the famous Philipp-Flamm on the north-west face. Put up in 1999 by the prolific Dolomite activist Venturino de Bona with Piero Bez, it climbs one of the biggest and most renowned walls in the range, reaching the summit ridge of the Civetta jusf up and right of Punta Tissi (2992m). The 35 pitches that make up this 1250m route have maximum difficulties of 7c+ with a little A2. Bau and Beber used aid on only four pitches and think a completely free ascent might be possible at 8b. In the Pale the great East Face (Andrich/Tissi, 1930: 800m: V+) of Monte Agner received its first ever winter ascent in mid-January by Fabio Valseschini and Ivo Ferrari. Riccardo Scarian has become the third person to climb Solo per Vecchi Guerreri, a four-pitch route on the remotely situated north face of a 2000m summit dubbed El Colaz in the little-frequented Feltrine (aka Feltre) group. Maurizio 'Manolo' Zanolla put up the incredibly exposed route in 2006. The final pitch weighed in at an impressive 8c, 7c/7c+ obl, the grade confirmed by the second ascensionist, Mario Prinoth. Scarian commented that it is undoubtedly one of the finest routes he has ever climbed. On the Cima Ovest Alex Huber, partnered on his eventual redpoint success in July by Franz Hinterbrander and Max Reiche1, climbed Pan Aroma through the Bauer-Rudolph route on the north face. After climbing the first five pitches of his own 2000 route Bellavista, Huber broke out right. The sixth pitch is a fu1l60m long, protected by seven bolts and rated 8b+, while the 20m eighth pitch provides the 8c crux. Although the pitches are bolted, there are definitely long run-outs in outrageous positions and the climb is one of the hardest big-wall free routes in the world. During the previous January David Bruder and Jonathan Trango made the first alpine-style winter ascent of the 550m Swiss route, which now goes free at 7b+ 6c obI. The pair opted for a light and fast ascent de~pite the cold, carrying no bivouac gear and wearing rock shoes. On the big roof that forms the free crux, the cold proved prohibitive and they were forced to climb it at 6c with a little A2, all on questionable rock. They reached the top at midnight and arrived back at their car after 21 hours on the go.