Grandes Jorasses – Colton/MacIntyre

Grand Jorasses seen from Le Courtes, March 2010

After a long summer with to much work it was nice to finally finish the guiding season in september. But back home in Norway I just wanted to go back to the Alps for some alpine climbing. Big snowfalls in august could make the north faces would come in early this year. And it’s so easy to be a alpinist today, specially for climbing in the Alps, just google the routes you want to do and hopefully you get a fresh trip report. As expected – the Grandes Jorasses was in!

After a while I convinced Steinar Grynning to come with me and we arrived in Chamonix in early October to perfect weather. We started acclimatization by climbing a route from the Cunningham Couloir and up to the Cosmiques Ridge. The next day we climbed a route on the Tacule Triangle and to the summit.

Ever since the first time I saw the huge north face of Grandes Jorasses, after skiing the Breche Puiseux, I’ve wanted to climb the Jorasses. And last year I finally did by climbing Slovenien route to Croz spur with Eiliv Ruud. But Colton-Mac is the real deal, a awesome line, so I knew had to do that one also.

We packed and planed to take the train to Montenvers, but showing up at the station around mid day we couldn’t believe what we saw – the train finished for the season YESTERDAY. FU%&! After 5 minutes discussion we decided to take the Midi lift and traverse from the Plan de l`Aguille to the Montenvers. It took us some time, but not to bad and we were at the Leschaux hut around 18.00. With a early start we crossed the bergschround in the dark and started up what felt like endless ice slopes. But conditions were good and we found nevee most of the way. We roped up in the middle of the first narrow section and climbed one looong pitch to the ice crux. The deal was that Steinar should take the ice and I should take the headwall. The ice crux says grade 6 in the guidebook. It was not as steep as expected, but one good piece of gear in 30 meters was quite interesting, also for the belayer. Some more low angled ice took us to the final headwall, witch we knew would be the crux of the climb. Not just because of the climbing, but also because of the route finding. We swapped lead and I started up a thin runnel of ice. Protection was difficult to get, but the climbing was never desperate so it was OK. It took some time, but we summited after 10 hours and 30 minutes on the face.

The normal route from Italy is a big route in itself and we wanted to get all the 2700 vertical meters down to the valley. We got of the glacier just when it got dark and stopped to melt some water. The rest of the descent with headlamps was hard for tiered legs, but we made it all the way down. And a BIG thanks to Joacim for driving throw the tunnel to pick us up!

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